Ali Sadr Cave : The world’s largest water cave
The Ali Sadr Cave originally called Ali Saadr or Ali Saard (meaning cold) is the world’s largest water cave which attracts thousands of visitors every year.
It is located in Ali Sadr Kabudarahang County about 100 kilometers north of Hamadan, western Iran (more accurately at 48°18’E 35°18’N). Because of the cave’s proximity to large cities such as Hamadan, Ali Sadr Cave can be reached via three routes:
- Hamedan-Bijar via Lalejin Road: It was constructed recently
- Hamedan-Tehran Road, via Nojeh Air Base
- Hamedan-Salehabad Road
Ali Sadr Cave was formed in Sariqieh Heights. There are two other caves in its vicinity: Subashi and Sarab.
Their distances from Ali Sadr Cave are 11 and 7 kilometers respectively. The caves are probably interlinked to Ali Sadr Cave in view of the extensive layers of crystallized calcareous in the region.
it is a highly recommended destination for tourists from all corners of the world. Tours of the cave are available by pedalos.
Ali Sadr Cave is one of the rare samples of water caves in the world. The cave walls can extend up to 40 meters high, and it contains several large, deep lakes. The cave has a river flowing through it and most travel through the cave system is done with a boat.
History of The world’s largest water cave
The cave was originally discovered during the reign of Darius I (521-485 BC) which can be verified by an old inscription at the entrance of the tunnel.
However, the knowledge of the existence of the tunnel was lost, and only rediscovered in 1978 when a local shepherd followed the tunnel searching for water or a lost goat.
Geologists believe that the rocks of this mountain pertain to the second geological period i.e. Jurassic (190-130 million years ago). Based on evidence within the cave, it was inhabited by primitive people.
Residents of Ali Sadr and other nearby villages knew this and used its water, but it was not used for tourism. Hamedan mountaineering team with 14 members visited the cave and explored it in 1963.They used simple device such as flashlights and rubber tube to navigate. The news of expedition was published in local newspapers in 1967.
After the publication of the news, investigators, climbers and naturalists rushed to the site. Hamedan climbers extended the diameter of the entrance by 50 cm in 1973.
The cave was open to visitors in 1975. In the summer of 2001, a German/British expedition surveyed the cave to be 11 kilometers long. The main chamber of the cave is 100 meters by 50 meters and 40 meters high.
The combination of rainwater and CO2 formed mild carbonic acid which seeped into the calcareous fields and through chemical reactions, unstable sodium bicarbonate was formed. This soluble chemical composition created abyss the thick calcareous layers.
The natural entrance to Alisadr cave (sinkhole) has been made accessible by stairs. It is gated and roofed. The stairs lead down to a concrete walkway in a dry gallery of approximately 3-4 m of height and 6-8 m width.
The surface water enters the sinkhole during the wet months of the year, follows the walkway and disappears to the left where the first lake can be found. The dry entrance section of the cave connects through joint-controlled maze of smaller passages to the artificial (main) entrance to Alisadr cave.
These passages are water-filled in their southern extensions. The artificial (Main) entrance begins as a 20 m long tunnel that slopes gently downhill to a wide gallery of 15 by 6 m formed under phreatic conditions. A calcite/aragonite ledge at the left wall marks a former water level and has some fine stalactites and crystals. To the right of the artificial entrance there is a Tearoom/Cafe for visitors which is operational in the summer.
Know Before You Go to the beautiful destination
Expect to spend an hour getting there from Hamadan. There are shuttles and taxis that go to and from the cave regularly. Best to get there early in the morning, especially on Fridays or holidays when it’s likely to be more crowded.
Bring a jacket, the cave is chilly and wear comfortable shoes. Though you’ll be traversing the cave mostly by boat, there is quite a bit of walking, including stairs. Total tour takes about 2-3 hours depending on whether you choose the “old” path or “new” path.