At first look, it just seems like a regular hill, but Sari Ghiyeh Hill keeps a million-years treasure in its heart. The largest water cave in the world, an unparalleled subterranean wonder hides oneself in this hill. Take your first step to the cave, and you will be mesmerized by the magnificence and glory of nature in Ali Sadr Water Cave.
Named after the nearby village, Ali Sadr Cave locates at 70 km, north-west of Hamedan, an ancient city in the west of Iran. This ancient cave is 2180 meters above sea level. This weird water cave is as old as dinosaurs! Geologists believe that Ali Sadr Cave belongs to the Jurassic era, more than 130 million years ago.
Founded tools and hunting painting scenes proved that it was once a shelter of primitive men. An old inscription at the entrance of the tunnel verifies that people knew the place during the Achaemenid era, 500 BC. For centuries locals used it as a cistern without knowing the greatness of this exceptional site. It was in 1963 that a group of local mountaineers rediscovered the cave. Extending the entrance and smoothing down the surface, tourists got the chance to visit this rare gem after 12 years, in 1975.
Among different natural phenomena, caves are the most mysterious ones, calling everyone for exciting expeditions and more in-depth uncovering. Ali Sadr is the world largest water cave, although all the chambers and labyrinths have not been explored. The German-British expedition team in 2001, discovered only 11 kilometres of the cave and the exact end of this cave is still not clear. Through the flowing water in the cave, it becomes possible to tour in chains of flooded chambers by regular boats.
The water of Ali-Sadr cave flows from a nearby spring and rainfalls. It has no aroma and taste. Still, it is not drinkable for a high amount of calcium carbonate. Leaking water put layers of crystallizing calcareous on the walls for centuries and make superb scenes, a unique design for this 190 million-year-old cave.
The depth of water varies between 0.5 to 14 meters in different parts. The liquid is so transparent and clear that the cave bed is easily recognizable even where the depth of the lake is 5 meters.
The moment you step in, you will be amazed by its grandeur. 40-meter walls and strange shapes shock you. Unlike your expectation, the air inside the cave is too light and fresh, and it is a pleasantly refreshing and moist space. The temperature inside the cave distinctly differs from the outside. It is warm in winters and cool in summers. The temperature is still 16 centigrade all year-long.
Walking a few meters down to the cave, sparkling water is in front of you. There you can wait to board on boats to begin a unique adventure to the heart of this prehistoric cave. It is just like a dream, being in a science fiction movie. The cave halls are like a maze; some alleys reach an impasse, and some are interconnected. The ease of boating in the canals is a unique feature of Ali Sadr Cave in comparison to other water caves in the world.
Try to take a close look at the surroundings and let this miracle of nature reveal its secrets and mysteries. Be brave and do not afraid of the mysterious water beneath your feet. There is no live creature, even planktons in this cave.
Take a keen eye on various converted forms of stalagmites and stalactites. The figures are lighted with colourful lights to let your imagination go far beyond the walls of the cave; dragons, elephants, pearls, etc. In some parts, the ceiling is as high as a concert hall, and in some regions, it is too short that you should bend your neck.
Where the waterway ends, the cave expedition continues on foot. While crossing the trail, the wonders still go on and on to bewitch you more and more. You can see the "Freedom Hall", the largest chamber of Ali Sadr cave with the axis of 100 meters wide or the phenomenal "Wedding Chamber" covered with thousands of small white crystals of stalactites.
Ali Sadr Cave is an alive, growing natural phenomenon beneath the earth, as it is changing by the activation of minerals in leaking water every minute. Ali Sadr is a natural phenomenon, a worth visiting site for its antiquity, grandeur and beauty. You can have the extraordinary experience of boating not on the earth surface but inside a subterranean lake. Alisadr cave is submitted in UNESCO's tentative list to be inscribed as Iran's World Heritage Centre.
By Samaneh Zohrabi