A unique creation of nature – the fabulous Kov-ata Cave

A unique creation of nature – the fabulous Kov-ata Cave

There is the famous cave in Baharly not far from Ashgabat, located in the Kopetdag foothills, with the no less famous underground lake Kov-ata (“Father of Caves”). The fame of this place is more associated with the healing properties of water rather than the beauty of the underground nature. Residents and guests of Ashgabat going to visit this cave have the opportunity to get into a completely different world in less than an hour.

As archaeological data show, the local population knew about this cave a long time ago and visited it as early as 2000 years ago. There are many different legends about the “Father of Caves”, which is considered the place of omnipotent spirits, and the origin of the cave itself was attributed to supernatural powers. A significant part of the legends is associated with the wonderful, healing effect of the hydrosulfuric water of the underground lake.

One legend says that, in the time of Parthian kings, there was a miraculous healing of the rebellious slaves in this place, who had previously been subjected to mortal torture. Since then, the sufferers came to the hot spring and rappelled into the depths of the cave.

Another legend explains the origin of the cave’s name as follows: …a shepherd who noticed someone else’s animal in his herd, wanted to know whose it was. Following it in the evening, he learnt that the owner of the cow was an old man living in a cave. The old man gave the shepherd a small bag for his labor, and instructed to open it only upon arrival home.

As soon as the shepherd left the cave, impatient with curiosity, he immediately untied the bag and, disappointed with what he saw, threw out the fig leaves and returned home. Having heard what happened, his wife turned the bag inside out and found gold in it. Realizing that he threw his wealth to the ground, the shepherd returned back to the cave, where he found neither an old man nor a cow, but only saw a thin fig tree not far from the cave entrance.

The cave entrance is a large opening like an arch. There are two more openings a little higher, but they are noticeable only in cold weather, when steam is emitted from them like smoke, giving the impression of an underground fire. Immediately at the entrance is a deep descent down the stairs into the vast cave, which is like a grand hall at the very beginning.

Daylight illuminates only the front of the cave, and then the lake can be approached down the long, steep staircase with illumination. The cave bottom is covered with blocks of limestone, fallen down from the roof, and in some places with a thick layer of bat droppings, accumulated over many centuries.

The warm water of the lake with the smell of hydrogen sulfide is constantly flowing into the foothill ravine, and is therefore not polluted. It is of emerald blue color and so transparent that the smallest pebbles are visible at the bottom even with artificial light.

The underground lake is a unique creation of nature, which is famous not only for the healing properties of water, but also for its amazing beauty.

Many know since childhood the film “Fairytale of Magic Beads” about a monster that kept its soul under water. In this cave, the little hero, together with the monster, drank milk from a jug not touching the milk skin, and ate a flat cake not breaking its edges. So this is that cave, which challenges the time, giving those who come here the feeling of being carried to some strange and amazing world.

Kov-ata is the winter beach for Ashgabat residents, tourists from all over the country and foreign guests of Turkmenistan. Containing about 38 chemical elements, the healing water of the lake relieves fatigue and has a wholesome effect on humans. The Kov-ata Cave with enchanting sounds of water and mysterious dusk is a well-arranged place for a great vacation.

Myahri YAGMUROVA

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