Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Lake of Ghosts

The Lake of Ghosts (دریاچه ارواح) is a small lake situated near Salaheddinkia village in the richly-forested Iranian province of Mazandaran, and located 32 kilometers from the city of Noshahr. The local name for this lake is Mamraz, meaning hornbeam in Persian (The hornbeam is a tree species native to Iran which can reach heights of between 15 and 25 meters with a trunk bearing smooth, gray-green bark.) It is better known by the name of Lake of Ghosts, given to it in reference to its eerie swampland landscape featuring countless half-drowned trees, often shrouded in mist, giving them the appearance of phantoms.

The formation of the lake took place over a geological timespan extending from the middle Cretaceous to the Quaternary period. The length of the lake is 300 meters and its width is 70 meters and in total it covers an area of 40 hectares with the surface and its surroundings covered with alder and hornbeam trees. The dead or moribund specimens protruding from the lake have suffered considerable decay from having been partially submerged in its waters for many years.

The unblemished nature around the lake is foggy on most days and wild animals can be heard around it. Animals such as foxes, jackals, snakes and frogs have made the area and its vicinity their home and the combination of their calls, particularly at night, justify the lake’s name. At night, the reflected moonlight and eerie dance of the tree shadows off of the lake’s surface adds to its already intriguing mystique. There is less of a mist during spring and summer months although it’s rare for it to completely leave the lake for an extended time.

For all its strange beauty, the Lake of Ghosts has not yet been promoted seriously as a tourist attraction and, as of yet, as a protected area lacks any facilities which could make it such. It can only be accessed on rough roads requiring the use of four-wheel drive vehicles and even then only safely at certain times of year. While the lake’s dimensions and many natural obstacles (i.e. trees) make it unsuitable for swimming or boating, however, its surrounding woods (Marmaz Forest) are excellent terrain for camping.

In 2020, the movie “Lake of Ghosts” was released which was inspired by poems of Rumi. In the film environmental scholars and researchers travel to Mamraz Forest to discover the secrets of this territory. 

The Lake of Ghosts has been registered in the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran by the registered number of 402 in order to preserve its animal and plant species.


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