One of the most vivid and unforgettable impressions for tourists in Turkmenistan is a visit to the Bakharly (Bakharden) cave with the underground lake Kov-ata, 100 kilometers from Ashgabat.
The underground lake Kov-Ata is a unique work of nature, which can rightly be called one of the wonders of the world. Its name translates as “The Father of the Cave”. It is associated with the so-called Kopetdag line of thermal springs located at the northern foothills of the Kopet-Dag along the tectonic fault line. Significant mineralization and high temperature – 33 – 37 degrees Celsius, indicate that the waters of the Bacharden underground lake rise from a great depth, from about 600 to 650 meters. The age of the cave is several thousand years old.
The curative water of the lake contains sulfur, iodine, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfate, aluminum, bromine, iron, antimony – a total of 38 elements. Bathing in the water has a beneficial effect on the body, improves blood circulation, helps to cure diseases such as rheumatism, colds, kidney and skin diseases, soothes the nervous system. The water temperature in the lake ranges from 33 to 38 degrees throughout the year. It is one of the largest underground lakes in the world. Never a ray of sunlight touched his waters.
Local residents from time immemorial knew about the unusual properties of this lake. According to legend, in the era of the Parthian kings, there was a miraculous healing of the rebellious slaves, who had previously been tortured to death. Since then, the sufferers have traveled to a hot spring, descending into the depths of the cave by ropes (more than 60 meters!).
The first scientific reports on the existence of a cave and an underground lake appeared in 1856. And in 1896 an interesting article was published in the local press, which first acquainted the people of Ashkhabad with this cave. In it, in particular, it was reported that thanks to the care of employees of the railway station Bacharden (now Baharly), for the convenience of descent into the cave there are wooden staircases. Since that time, the cave and the lake have become a favorite place of visiting the people of Turkmenistan and its guests.
Kov-Ata is a real winter beach of Ashgabat residents. The water here is always clean and clear, no algae – there is a lot of hydrogen sulfide in the water. In the western part of the lake there is a peninsula, an area of about 100 square meters, dividing it into two halves. The water level in the lake varies depending on the season. In winter it decreases, in summer it rises by 10-15 cm. The water in the lake has a weak flow and, due to artificial lighting, a weak greenish shade. It gives pleasant tactile sensations, it seems “velvet”, but it is unpleasant to smell and taste, as it is strongly saturated with hydrogen sulfide.
Scientific studies have confirmed the seismic stability of the cave vaults. The cave is located in an earthquake-prone area within which 220 tangible earthquakes and 46 strong earthquakes occurred in the last 100 years, but its vaults remained unshakable.
Dimensions of the cave:
Length – 250 meters;
Depth from the surface of the earth – 55-60 meters;
Width – 50 meters;
Height – 25-50 meters;
Total area – 6300 square meters;
Volume – 7500 cubic meters.
Dimensions of the lake:
Length – 75 meters;
Depth – 8-14 meters;
Width – 14-23 meters;
The area is 1050 square meters;
Volume – 6,500 cubic meters;
Water temperature all year round – from +33 to +37.5 C.
In the healing water of Kov-ata, sulfur, iodine, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfate, as well as chlorine, aluminum, bromine, iron, antimony – contain only 38 elements. Bathing in the water has a beneficial effect on the body, improves blood circulation, helps to cure diseases such as rheumatism, colds, kidney and skin diseases, soothes the nervous system. At the same time, due to the intensity of exposure, it is recommended to stay in the cave no more than 45 minutes, and in water – no more than 20 minutes.
In addition to bats in the cave, in the front light part of it, wild pigeons, sparrows nest. Of the vegetation in the cave are found only some species of lichens.
Bakharlyn underground lake Kov-ata, this remarkable monument of nature and a tourist object, is under the protection of the state.