“Kow-ata” –Underground Lake of Baharly

One of the brightest and unforgettable journeys for tourists in Turkmenistan is the visit to the Baharly cave with underground lake “Kow-ata”.

There are numerous legends about this interesting tourist facility. One of them explains its name this way.

… In old times, there was a shepherd, who had a large herd. Once, he noticed that a new one appeared among cows he pastured. Shepherd didn’t know whose cow it is. Late in the day, this cow went away in the unknown direction, leaving the herd. The shepherd decided to follow it and know about its owners to agree about payment for his labor. He was very surprised, when the cow directed to the cave not to yurta. Carefully going after it, the shepherd saw an old man. Having greeted him, the shepherd expressed his request and the old man willingly agreed to pay for his labor. He put something into small bag and gave it to the shepherd, but strictly bided to open it at only at home.

The shepherd really couldn’t wait and opened the bag, hardly moving away from the cave. To his great surprise and disappointment, there were the fig leaves only. Being angry, be threw them out. Coming home, he told his wife about meeting with the old man and showed that ill-fated small bag. As a real lady of the house, his wife decided to use it for keeping tea and having turned it inside out, saw a small golden slice in the form of a fig leaf caught on the cloth. The shepherd understood that he threw out his wealth. He came back to the cave but neither old man nor cow was there. Only a thin fig sapling had grown not far from the entrance. Even today, it gladdens the eyes of visitors. Like the lake, the cave also got a name Kow-ata that means “father of cave”.

Underground Lake “Kow-ata” – unique work of the nature, which can be called as one of the world miracles by right. It’s hard to say, when the cave with the lake was really originated, maybe, hundreds years ago. From time immemorial, people come here to receive treatment for various diseases. All through the ages, the Turkmen knew about unusual properties of this lake. In old times, people came to underground lake with families, gave sadaka-rites and treated to pilgrims, searching for cure.

This cave is situated 100 kilometers far from Ashgabat. There is a lake, which breathe warm stream, in the depth of 60 meters from entrance into the cave. Long steps with 350 stairs lead to it.

Medicinal water of the lake contains sulphur, iodine, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulphate, aluminium, bromine, iron, stibium – in total 38 elements. Swimming in the water has favorable influence on organism, improves blood circulation, and helps to cure such diseases as rheumatism, cold, renal and skin diseases, soothe the nervous system. Temperature of water in the lake is from 33 up to 38 degrees all the year round. Length of the lake is 80 meters, width – 30 meters, depth – up to 16 meters. It is one of the largest underground lakes in the world. Sunrays never touched warm velvet of its waters.

Bidding defiance to the time, the underground lake creates in tourists the feeling of displacement to another world owing to bewitching sounds of water and mysterious twilight in the cave.

The first scientific information about existence of the cave and the underground lake appeared in 1856. In 1896, in local press, it was published an interesting note, which first familiarized many residents of Ashgabat with this cave. In particular, it informs that owing to the concern of employees of the Baharly railway station wooden stairs for comfort of walking down into the cave were built. Thereafter, the cave and the lake became favorite place for visit of residents of Turkmenistan and guests.

As a wonderful monument of the nature, the Baharly underground lake is under state protection.

Serdar Akiniyazov