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Destination Details

Turkmenistan

The Bakharden underground lake is a natural sight in “Kov-Ata” Cave on the northern slope of the Kopetdag. The water in the lake is very famous for its curative characteristics.
The regional center, the village of Geok-Depe (Green Hill), is located approximately halfway between the lake and Ashgabat. Its streets are shadowed with tall leafy trees and its yards are filled with fruit gardens. The bus turns off the highway towards the mountains. Soon we see the entrance of the famous cave in front of us. The Turkmen name for it is "Kov-Ata", meaning 'The Father of Caves'. Many legends are connected with it, especially about the healing powers of the lake's water. Researchers have found that this underground lake is the brother of the warm sulphur-lime springs at Archman, where a resort is located. Both springs are the result of warm weather, which emerges from fissures in the rock in the Kopet Dag thermal zone.
The cave begins with a large opening a broad five-meter arch. Somewhat higher there are two more openings, but they can only be noticed in cold water when steam rises from them. From the entrance there is a steep cement staircase along which visitors descend to a large underground area about ten meters beneath the surface. Here one enters a large area is like a magnificent auditorium. The overall length of the cave is 230 meters, its height goes up to 20 meters, and its width is at some points 57 meters.
The bottom of the cave is covered with lumps of lime. Daylight only enters the "ante chamber" of the cave. As you approach the lake you feel the air becoming damper and warmer. From time to time you can hear sounds of bats which inhabit the cave in great abundance and are harmless, yet perform the function of killing many harmful insects.
The lake is located at a depth of 52 meters from the entrance on a vertical line; it has an area of 2,700 square meters and is up to 13 meters deep. It is 72 meters long and about 30 meters wide. The surface of the lake lies 60 meters beneath the surface of the earth. Its warm, running water is clear and emerald-colored. Even in artificial lighting tiny stones at the bottom can be seen.
The water has constant temperature between 35-37C. Analysis has shown that it contains a complex combination of chemical elements. Thirty different elements have been found, to date. Their unusual combination and the high temperature suggest that the water have biological activity. A dip in the water refreshes the bather instantly. It would be hard to resist taking a dip, whether in Summer or winter. People come in large number to take bath and for this purpose changing booths and steps leading down into the lake have been built on the shore.
Once the dip is over, everyone goes towards the exit, benches have been set up on various levels for people to sit down and rest, for the ascent can be tiring.
The entrance is decorated with ornamental cement blocks. Trees have also been planted here. Very few visitors to Ashgabat leave the city without visiting this wonderful comer of Turkmenistan nature.

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