Caves of Iran
1- Introduction
2- Geology of Iran
3- Speleology and Karstology
4- Diversity of Caves
5- The Pioneers of Speleology in Iran
6- How to Protect and Preserve the Caves
7- How this committee was established
8- Conclusion

1- Introduction
Iran, the variation of the word Aryan, is a leading civilized nation, which has exercised great influence on the political development of the ancient world while bringing about some cultural synthesis between East and West.

Elam (3rd mill B.C., the history of Iran before this era is not well known)
Assyrian (7th Century B.C.)
Mede (712 B.C.)
Achaemenian (550 – 330 B.C.)
Seleukid (312 – 250 B.C.)
Parthian (257 B.C. – 226 A.D.)
Sassanid (250 – 641 A.D.)
Islamic Era:
Began (633 – 651)
Taherid (821 – 872)
Saffarid (861 – 1003)
Samanid (892 – 1005)
Dylamite (926 – 1041)
Buyid (931 – 1055)
Saljukid (1048 – 1229)
Mongols (13th Century)
Tamurian (1391 – 1532)
Safavid (1501 – 1735)
Afghan Invasion (1722)
Afsharieh (1736 – 1795)
Zandieh (1741 – 1779)
Qajarieh (1794 – 1925)
Pahlavi (1925 – 1979)
Islamic Republic (1979 – Present)

2- Geology of Iran
-Iran is a mountainous country, with a very varied geology, but we can list some of its statistical facts as following:
Area: 1,648,000 Square Kilometers
Population: Approximately 63,000,000
Population of the Capital: Approximately 10,000,000
Constitution: Islamic Republic
Time: + 3.30 Greenwich
Language: Persian, Farsi
Longitude: Between 44*50 degrees and 63*18 degrees east of Greenwich
Latitude: Between 25*30 degrees and 39*50 degrees north of Equator
Altitude: From –26 to 5671 meters at the summit of Mt. Damavand
Mountain Ranges: The Alborz in the north and the Zagros in the west
Deserts: Dasht-e-Kavir in the North-Eastern region and Kavir-e-Lut in the Eastern region
3- Speleology and Karstology

3-A- Natural Caves
For the first time the expression of speleology, or the “Subterraneous Geography or the word Caverns Science was used in (1859 – 1938) by Edward Alfred Martel for the study of caves.
The scientific study of the calcareous regions in where the chemical processes of distribution occur is called Karstology, a word signifying the elements Karst. Bareness, is one of the specifications of the limestone ground. The best representation of this phenomenon was observed in the Karst Region, in the west of Yugoslavia. So the word speleology and Karstology are very similar in meaning to each other. In the Karstic lands small or big caves are present as well.
Speleology is one of the branches of geology, which for the moment is very useful and important in finding the sources of underground water as well as many other uses. Therefore, the geologists, mineralogists, hydro-geologists, archeologists and biologists, ….. find this scholastic field very useful in the scientific researches.
Generally, the caves in Iran are formed in the limestone formation in the Cretaceous Period.
Now, lets study how a cave (about 95% of them) is formed? Rain, snow or other fallouts, solve the CO2, which is present in the atmosphere, so a dilute acid such as H2CO3 is formed. The CO2 is very weak in air (3/10000), but inside the limestone of the caves has its maximum concentration.
When this dilute acid passes through the cracks of limestone, it dissolves the lime and carries it in form of Calcium Bicarbonate to the other parts and consequently this crack will propagate and after a while, some holes, small or big will be formed, which will eventually be called “Cave” or names like (Eshkeft, Caverne, Kahf, Kohol, Ghar and etc.) in other languages.
The falling of this solution from the top of the caves causes the transformation of bicarbonate to carbonate deposit in the same place. Deposition of carbonate at the top of the cave will form a conic shaped lime (as calcite) that is named “stalactite”. Another conic shape will be formed on the floor of cave, exactly in the opposite side, which is called “stalagmite”.
As it was mentioned before, some of the caves are created by the tectonic movements, falls waves, or scarcely by underground or sub-oceanic waves.
Another kind of the cave, may be vuleanic case like Job Cave in Babak near the city of Yazd or Div-Well near Natanz. Also you can visit the “Windy Caves” or “Icy Caves”. The later ones like “Yakh-Morad Cave” near the Gach-e-Sar, “Yakh-Djon” or Majoulan near the city of Fouman, Dena Cave near Si-Sakht and Icy-Cave near the south of Tarom.

3-B- Artificial Caves
There are so many of them in Iran, which are dug by hand (Dast-Kand) for different purposes and could be used freely as shelter (Landjeh-Road near Ashtian), hiding places, or living (Ashkeh-Shar near Nir), and calm places, may be for worship of God and prayer (Dashkasan near Meshkin-Shahr) and finally a location for pilgrimage and religious procedures.
Geography of the Mountains:
The Zagros and the Alborz are the two great ranges, which were established from the basic structure of this large country. The presence of limestone is extensive, but in the areas so far investigated, it is rarely well developed into Karst. Over the entire 1,500 Km length of Zagros, carbonates predominate. Many minor regions of Karst are known, around Mahabad, Hamedan (Ghar Sar-Ab, 1km), Kuh-e-Garun (Ghar-Garun, 112 m) from Mardesh and Bishapur.

Only one area can be classified as having major importance. This is the 150 Km- long line of massifs situated to the north of Kerman-Shah, between Bisetun and Shapur.
High-level plateaus are strewn with depressions and a large dolines, notably on the massifs of Parau, Shahu and Ravansar, sinks, shafts and caves including Ghar-Parau and Ghar-e-Cyrus (-265 m).
There are large streams resurging around the base of the mountains, but only near Ravansar has it been possible to make any penetration (Grotte Superieure de Shapor Kale, 650 long).

4- Diversity of the Caves
For the moment, we have explored about 1200 caves in Iran, which could be divided as following:
- About 150 caves are ready and have been transformed into show-caves for the tourists.
- Some 10 to 13 are used as scientific labs.
- About 15 to 20 are therapeutic sites.
- About 15 are used as holy places.
- Finally, about 5 to 9 of them are used for agricultural products (like tomato and cucumber and etc.)
Now, we are going to describe a few famous and interesting caves that you can visit around Iran and then some of them located in Tehran Province.

A – The caves Located in Iran (except Tehran Province)

1-A Ghar-e-Parau
-The spectacular massif of Kuh-e-Parau, just north of Kerman-Shah, contains Ghar-e-Parau, Iran’s deepest cave, or the Everest of the world caves. It is situated just 300 meters below the 3,357 meters summit of the mountain in the Karst of the south plateau. The cave is a strenuous proposition, being a continuously narrow, with single passage and twenty-six pitches up to 42 min. depth. It was explored by British expeditions in 1971 and 1972 with Mr. John Middleton as the supervisor to travel 1,360 meters to reach a sump at a depth of 751 meters. The exact resurgence of water is not known, but all the risings are around the base of the massif, about 100 meters further down. But none of them could be entered. This group has written a book in the name of “Ghar-e-Parau” by David Jonson in 1973.

In 1992 a group of the speleogists from Mashehad (in Khorasan Province) for the first time visited the Parau with all the difficulties, and went down 420 meters and eventually prepared a film documentary, for this 1.5 hour journey.

2-A Blind Fish Ghar
In 1929 two biologists from Denmark in Zagros discovered this cave, but they didn’t publish any report.

In 1951 a young man named Antoni-Smith with 3 of his other colleagues came to Iran to follow this cave. They searched everywhere, specially the subterranean canals of Kerman. They didn’t find any blindfish and returned to England.
After 26 years, the leader of the group heard that the blind fish might be found in Zagros. So, in 1977 they came to Iran and finally found 11 fishes of this type and wrote a book about the “White Blind Fish in Iran”. This Ghar is near the Tangue Haft, after the “Bisheh” railway station in Zagros Mountain.

3-A Ghar Houto
In the northern part of Iran, near Now-Shahr, there are two caves 250 meters apart from each other. This cave is not too big but is famous. When Mr. Houto an American caver came to Iran, he discovered a man in a blue uniform probably a dead Achaemenian soldier, after extensive digging. He succeeded to smuggle and carry it to America. He wrote a book about the mentioned topic and the for moment, the Cultural Heritage Organization has closed down the cave any kind of trespassing is forbidden.

This Ghar has the dimensions of 5×5×9 meters, similar to an inclined well. Near the bigger cave, there is a smaller cave.
4-A Sahoulan-Cave in Mahabad
This cave is located 35 Km from Mahabad to Boukan road. Its position is 45* 57’ degree East longitude and 36*39’ north latitude. The altitude of the Ghar is about 2200 meters, near a paved road. The entrance of the cave has a height of 9 meters with a 12 m width. Meanwhile, there is a lake with a surface about 50×32 square meters and the average depth of 12 m.

This lake connected to another lake by a corridor with the width of 2 m, height of 8 m and the length of 40 m. The average depth of water is 12 m.
The second lake has a surface of 58×42 square meters and a dome of 50 m. This cave is very attractive.
This Ghar is made of limestone and dolomite in Cretaceous Period (about 95 million years ago). The water is too transparent and you can see the bed of the lakes.
The green grass grown around the cave, the splendid sight of cave, and the clear water below have made this cave a tourist attraction pole.

5-A Ghar-e-Ali Sadr
The village of Ali-Sadr or Ali-Sard is near this cave and it stands about 70 km from Hamedan. It is one of the most famous, marvelous and wonderful Aquatic caves of the world. In the ancient times, it was a place to collect drinking water for the passing by flocks of sheep. We don’t know who was the first person who explored the cave. But in 1967 four courageous and brave cavers by names of Jausef Nedjati, Mohammad Taher Homayouni, Einollah Bakhtiari and Abbass Raaufi as the leader of the group went inside the cave with the simplest equipment possible like ropes, ladder and few inflated tubes sailed the cave’s river like secret passageways.
You can see the colored stalactite on the ceiling of the cave when you are sitting in a boat sailing across various parts of the cave. Visiting this lake and its thousand Ghandils (stalactites) is a wonderful experience for everyone. You must go there to see this piece of paradise.
Currently, there are adequate hotels, restaurants, motels and other facilities to accommodate the visitors.

6-A Ghar Kattaleh-Khor in Zanjan
This cave stands about 140 km from Zanjon or 6 km from Garmab Village. Its geographical characteristics are:
Longitude: + 48*9’48” Latitude: + 35*50’10”
Its elevation is measured by an altimeter as about 1750 m. The entrance is toward the south and it is made of limestone and in the same Qom formation.
This Ghar is wet and has a length of 2.5 km .We can see the very splendid and huge stalactites and stalagmites in it.
The distance between the cave and Ghar-e-Ali Sadr is about 48 km, but in they are located in two different provinces. Having an asphalted road, the tourist simply can visit these two, in one day. 25 km from the cave, you can visit the shrines of two prophets in Khoda Bandeh (Gheidar), and about 60 km from the cave stands the huge and gigantic ancient building of Soultanieh Dome, which is very interesting to see and personifies the architecture of the 14th century.

7-A Shahpour Cave:
Shahpour cave is located on the northwestern cliff of the Chowgan Valley, within the Dashtak Anticline of southern Iran, about 120 km from Shiraz to Baushehr road. It is a single anastomotic tiered cave that has formed within Karstic Asmari Formation.
Karstified Carbonate rocks crop out on about 11% of Iran’s land area. This amount increases to about 23% in the south central region of Iran. In this semi-arid region the extensive Karstified area provides a valuable water resource.
Shahpour Cave is one of the archaeological and tourist attractions of southern Iran. The main entrance is located on the northwestern cliff of the Chowgan Valley, 200 m below the ridge, and 1320 m and 500 m above mean sea level and valley bottom respectively.
Shahpour’s entrance is also semi-elliptical, reaching the width of 45 m at its greatest point, and 20 m at its greatest height. It is accessible by a 230 step man-made staircase outside the cave. A 6 m high statue of Shahpour, the second king of the Sassanid Dynasty (241 AD to 271 AD) is located 25 m from the Shahpour’s entrance and the remains of Sassanid carvings are present on both walls of the cave and also on the two side of Chowgan Valley.
Various types of deposits cover the floors of all the passages, so only the upper part of the cross-sections could be mapped.
Semi-elliptical or semi-circular cross-sections in most of the main passages indicate that the cave is developed under phreatic conditions. Details of speleothem and spelegen distributions in the cave are shown in the figure.
It contains a variety of Carbonate and Sulphate Spelethems, among which are stalactites, stalagmites, Soda Strows , Coloums, Draperies, Flowstone, Rimstone Dams, Moon Milk, Corals, Pearls and Gypsum Crusts.
In your return back to the main road from Boushehr to Shiraz, you can visit Bishapour City with a plenty of mountains, the Anahita-Castle, the corridors to a well that supplies the water required to fill a near by pool, the old big mosque from Dylamite Era, the Valerian Palace, which is a wonderful and splendid sight at the river side and so many other unknown and unexplored hills.
When you go toward Kazeroun, you can visit Parishan Lake, a marvelous pond full of various migrated birds with about more than 6 thousand Flamingos. You can rent a motorboat and see these birds from a close distance.

8-A Ghar Gouri-Gale:

According to the statements made by Mehdi Maleki Shodja’a, the supervisor of the Speleologist Group of Kerman-Shah in the “Payam-e-Kerman-Shah” periodical, there are 62 caves around Kerman-Shah, which some of them in ancient times were occupied by the first human settlers for a long period of time.
He pointed out that Gouri-Gale is the biggest cave in Asia with the length of 3140 m, which stands in the prosperous and magnificent valley of Haft-Maran, 10 km from the city of Paveh.
The first explorers of this cave are unknown, but in 1976 a group of English and in 1977 a group of French speleologists wanted to enter and study this Ghar, but they were not successful.
In 1989, the famous sportman Mr. Mehdi-Shodja’a with his group went inside.
At the entrance, they ground was dry, but little by little it became wet, and after 400 m they reached a river with 9 m width and 1.5 m depth. In order to pass across it, they had to have proof clothes. The average temperature inside was 11° degrees centigrade and the water temperature was 10 degrees centigrade.
It is interesting to point out that the bats in this cave are completely yellow like canaries; they are rare and scarce in the world.
For the moment, 3 grand hotels are built near the entrance of the cave and sports and recreational facilities are prepared. By the way, you can not see the special stalactite and stalagmite like these anywhere else in the world! Good Heavens!

9-A) Ghar Chal-Nakhgir:

As you can see in the following map, this cave is located at the vicinity of Delijan city (about 12 km outside the city). The entrance of the cave is toward the south and its geographical specifications are as follows:
50˚, 45′, 58″ E – Longitude and 34˚, 02′, 15″ N – Latitude and about 1700 m above the sea level.

Ghar Chal-Nakhgir stands at the heart of carbonate stones. These stones have high degree of purity belonging to “Qom Formation”. The stones fit in to the period of Eligocene-Mioscene of the Third Era of geology, which is called Sinozoic. So the age of these stones is about 6 million years.

By passing of the time, stalactites and stalagmites are formed in the halls and vestibules. Presence of metallic oxides like iron, copper, magnesium and etc., supplementing the carbonate and bi-carbonates water, has created magnificent colors.

After entering the cave, the surface of the ground becomes slippery and wet with a 23 degrees slope and a breeze of cold air passing through. It is full of colored stalactites and stalagmites in the form of cauliflower, coralloid, columnar, and even waterfall forms.

Currently, two contracting companies are working inside the cave to prepare the pavements and as well as a narrow passage for the cavers and to install interior lighting.

Really, it is a marvelous spectacle, which dazzles the eyes.

B- The Caves in Tehran Province:
1-B Roodafshan Cave
a- Position of the cave
In the east of Tehran, where you are on the Tehran-Firouz-Khouh road, after passing Damavand, you arrive to a bifurcation that is named “ Seid-Abad”. From here, one road goes to Firouzkouh and another one after 6 km reaches Kalak Village.
After passing this rural road, and traveling 11 km from Kalak, there stands a sign showing the direction toward Roodafshan Village. This is a graveled road between the river-bed and mountain.
Finally after going 26 km from the Seid-Abad cross-section, you arrive at Roodafshan Village.

b- Geographical Specifications
The cave stands in the 50 km from S-E of township of Damavand, near the Roodafshan Village in a mountainous region. The distance between Roodafshan Village and the cave is about 1000 m. For climbing, it is important to have proper clothes and special equipment. First of all, you must go across a bridge and then upward in a serpentine road.
The entrance of the cave is elliptic with a 30 m width and 20 m height, and from this perspective, it has the biggest natural entrance and it is very attractive to the all tourists and cavers. After passing this big entrance with a sloped surface and stony and rocky way, you reach to the second entrance, which is rather smaller than the first. Here, again the ground and the floor of the cave are smooth and a large portion of it receives light from the first entrance.

c- How a Cave Is Formed?
About 35,000 years ago, due to the Damavand’s volcanic activities, the entrance of the cave that was hidden behind a big and huge rock, was cracked and little by little, it propagated. At the right hand-side of the cave, there is a strong wall, and at the left of it, there is another deep split. According to the opinion of archeologists the skeleton discovered here belonged to the Achaemenian or the Sassanid period.
The cave has plentiful of stalactites and stalagmites. Although the cave is wet, you can’t see any running water.
The depth of the cave is 700 or 800 m. At the end, there is an elevated passage to a small room. By using a ladder, we can climb into the small room. This room leads to the other sections of the cave through a narrow hallway. In this part of cave, the water is stagnant on some parts, but water current could be detected underneath.
The average temperature inside the cave is 6 degrees centigrade and the length of the main road is about 510 m. The distance between two halls is 20 m. For the tourists it is better to go with a guide and have sufficient means of caving.
At the summer of 2001, I think the cave will be completely ready for the tourist with all the following:facilities and accommodations:

2-B- Ghar Bournic (Tehran province):
a- Position of the Cave
When you go from Tehran to Firouzkooh, “ Ghar Borunic” is located at E-135 km of Tehran or 23 km in S-west of Firouz-Kooh or a distance about 6 km from Herandeh Village.
At the right side of the road, before entering the last tunnel, there is a narrow road, which goes towards the Herandeh Village. This road passing near the Hableh-Roud, then passes through the Herandeh Village. All the buses must stop there and afterwards the tourists or cavers must go through the gardens toward the cave for at least 1.5 hour.

b- Geographical Specification of the Cave
As it was noted above, This cave is about 3 km from the south of Herandeh Village. It is on the slope of a mountain called Bourni, at the south of Shahvars Mountain. The Namroud River goes around the Firouz-Kooh and runs toward the east of the cave with an interesting view and a labyrinth way, then joins a small river, named Delijan and eventually reaches the Hableh River at Garm-Sar. By using G.P.S. Magellan 2000, the entrance of the cave is determined to be located at 52*41’25” E-longitude and 35841’15” N-latitude and the elevation of the cave is 1960 m above the sea level.

c- Geomorphology & Tectonic of the Cave
Paying special attention to the tectonic and the stones around the entrance of the cave, we observe conglomerates and red sandstones, colored marns, and the limestone of Paleocene and Eocene Period. The series of Paleocene (third era of geology) shows that it was created about 40 to 65 million years ago.

d- Form and Characteristics of the Cave
The entrance has a 10m length, 15m width and 6m height. This is a relatively wide area and at the end to the left side, there is a hole for entrance that is rocky and slippery. So you must have a cane or walking stick to go forward.
This cave is made of 3 galleries with high ceilings and deep cracks that shows us the coldness and antiquity of the cave.
1- The first gallery
has a mild slope with some stony pavements. The dimensions of this hall are about 50 * 40 m with a 8m height. At the end of this section, there are two high fossa, where one is two meter higher than the other one. The remains of the human beings, indicates that the cave was inhabited by men in the Troglascenes Age. Meanwhile the eating-wares found at the surface of this gallery are the signs that this place was occupied by humans in the historic periods.
At the right hand side of hall, there is a stony wall, which goes into a deep hallway and perhaps, it was a place to hide animals like sheep. Also, there is a hallway connected to the second gallery whose entrance is about 8m wide and 10m high.

2- Second Gallery
This hall has the dimensions of 60*30 m and a height of 20 to 25 m with a steep passageway. In this hall, there are two narrow hallways, which the second one goes to the third hall. This corridor has a 5.40*6 m dimensions. At the end of this passage, there is a well with a 5m depth. Along this path, you can see the stalactites like Cauliflower in various colors.

3- Third Gallery
This gallery has a rectangular form with dimensions of 55 × 20× 12m. In this hall, you can see the big stones with sharp curves. The length of this corridor is about 8m and ends to a precipice with a 20 depth. Here you can see the conic stalactites, but the floor of the cave has an abnormal stalagmite. Continuing the third hall, a 20 × 5 m hallway comes to the view that has a relatively smooth floor. The residents of this cave could hide very quickly, in case of any danger coming their way. The deepest part of the third hall is about 60m. Breathing here is too difficult and the air is too dense. The length of the passage until the end of the cave is about 500m and it takes about 3 hours.
Finally, I hope by the special attentions of the Firouz-Kouh Governor, this cave with its nice strategic and vast scopes as well as its tourist attractions could become a economoc pole for the residents of Herandeh Village and they could build or repair the new roads and hotels and have more and more income.

3-B Ghar-Kashcool or “Afghan”
a- The location of the cave:
This cave stands about 60 km from Djavad-Abad, which is about 20 km from Varamain City. This cave is the southern margin of Garmsar and in spite of the fact that nearly all of the caves are in the hills or in the mountains; it is located in a smooth plain at the vicinity of the Black Mountain.

The geographical position of the entrance of Kashcool Cave measured by Magellan 2000 is: 52°, 04′ E-longitude, 34°, 52′ N-latitude and the altitude of about 850 m.
b -The geological point of view:
The entrance is funnel-shaped with a diameter of 4.5 m and a depth of 3 m that joins the cave’s elliptical entrance. The longer diameter is about one meter long and the shorter one is about 80 cm.

Around the mouth of the cave, you can see the alluvial deposits of the Present Age; meanwhile it stands in the middle of a conglomerate type of formation. After passing the entrance, the lime stony marne which belongs to the Period of Eligoscene and Mioscene from the Third Age (Cenozoic and Tertiary) becomes prevalent. This period is better known as Qom-Formation in Iran. For this reason, there isn’t any beautiful stalactite or stalagmite. Only some carbonate crystals as Calcit and arayonite in the ceiling and wall of the cave looks like the laminate.

How you can descend to the cave?
For descending into the cave, you must pass a funnel shaped passage. This mouth has slope of 80 degrees (it is very steep) and a depth of 10 m, which obliges you to carry the caving equipment (such as rope, ladder, thick and long rope, which on one end is tightened into a heavy weight). After passing this section, you have two alternative routes; one is shorter with a gallery and the second one is longer with a length of about 80 m that has 3 galleries.

It is important to mention that the weather inside the cave is sweltering and all the research activities must be done quickly. After passing through the longer route, you can see some white cabbage flower stalagmite on the floor and on the walls.

On the ceiling of the cave, there are black crystals as well. After finishing this invigorating caving, you can visit the beautiful Bahram Palace in about 5 km from here.

4-B Yakh Morad Cave
Geographical Conditions:
Yakh Morad Cave is located at Nesa District of Gachesar in Tehran Province. This unique and magnificent cave could be reached either by taking the Taleghan-Gachesar route or to travel 60 Kilometers in the Karaj-Chalus road. Nesa District is positioned at the vicinity of the Gachesar. The attractive architecture used in the old buildings covered by gable roofs has given a beautiful perspective on both sides of this mountainous route at the middle of a scenic valley. A simple traffic sign at the entrance of Nesa indicates that a country road on the left hand side will take us to the Yakh Morad Cave just 4 kilometers away. The narrow road leading to the cave has been widened and paved recently. Ultimately, it reaches Azadbar Village and ends up in Taleghan District. Therefore, travelers and caravans who want to reach Taleghan and Ghazvin will use this road in the future.

Before the Islamic Revolution, this road was widened and paved to the vicinity of the cave in 1975. The facilities remained from that period indicates that this cave have had considerable visitors in the past. The electrical installations and the lighting arrangement inside the cave and the stairway just outside the cave have deteriorated gradually. Today, there are fewer visitors and the surrounding is calmer and more tranquil.

The Location of the Cave:
After traveling 4 kilometers along the course of a narrow winding river and passing the Kohneh-deh Village, the entrance of Yakh Morad Cave becomes visible. The cars must be parked and the visitors should pass the bridge over the river on foot. On the foothills, there is a narrow passage going up the hill covered with gravel and stone due to the erosion of the mountain. When the entrance of the cave becomes visible, there is an old and eroded steel stairway that leads us to the mouth of the cave. The platform at the entrance of the cave is flat. The natural mouth of the cave is 3 meters high and 6 meters wide with a semi-circular shape. The elevation of this cave is 2,500 meters above the sea level. The entrance is toward east with a cold wind blowing in the same direction. There are several passageways to the various parts of the cave just at the entrance of the cave. The elevation difference between the cave and the bottom of the stairway is 10 meters.

The Natural Structure of the Cave:
Yakh Morad Cave was once submerged in water and essentially it is an under water cave. The natural condition of the cave and the Cardita Fossil remains on a stone just outside the cave are the proofs of this fact. This fossil belongs to the one of the marine mollusks in the Jurassic Era. Also, the presence of short and condense stalagmites in the shape of cabbage reveals the ancient history of the cave.
Yakh Morad is one of the most intricate caves of Iran in four levels with the height of 30 meters. Inside the cave, approximately 200 meters from its entrance, the icy structures like stalactites and stalagmites as well as the columns, walls, floors and ceilings covered with ice become apparent. One of the distinctive features of these icy structures is their hexagonal shape with the length of 6 to 10 centimeters closely packed next to each other, which prevents them from melting quickly. This cave has numerous hidden ventilators that funnel the outside air into the cave with great velocity. This is the main reason for the tremendous cold weather, which freezes the water inside the cave. The freezing season starts at the beginning of spring and continues until the middle of spring. Gradually, due to the dryness of the weather and lack of continuous water flow, the ice starts to melt. The best time to visit this cave is in April and May. The colorful spongy stalactite and stalagmite in the corridors, on the floors and ceiling provides a dazzling sight, which mesmerizes any spectator. The approximate temperature difference between inside and outside of the cave is 30° centigrade. Therefore without proper clothing, it is difficult for the ordinary visitors to walk inside the cave comfortably.
The humidity, cool temperature and abundance of oxygen in the cave, gives any visitor a relaxed and tranquil spirit. Even the winding of the passageways and increase or decrease of the elevation has no effect on the availability of oxygen and doesn’t cause fatigue or stress on the visitors. The entrance and the corridors connecting various parts of the cave are built naturally in several levels with circular shape architectural style. There are several underground cavities and wells with the depth of 30 meters inside the cave, which makes the presence of a tour guide essential to prevent any accidental falling of the tourists. Meanwhile, there are low horizontal passageways that require the travelers to bend down and in some cases even to crawl in order to go forward. Considering the available facilities, it is possible to visit 300 to 500 meters of the cave in 1.5 to 2 hours.
In addition, there are other ice caves in Iran like Yakh-Ghon (Bouzdan) Cave between the villages of Majolan and Masouleh in the northwest, where a cup of water freezes in half an hour or the ice cave just below the Dena Summit in the Zagross Mountains.Which is named " Hafr " .

A – Geographical Position
These caves are located about 45 km northeast of Tehran on the road to Meigon-Shemshak. These caves extending from east to west are numerated from one to three.

B- How Can We Go There?
It is very simple. We go from Tehran to Fasham and Meigon, and after 8 km toward Shemshak, there is “Hamelon Valley”. At this location, the road is quite wide and you can see a street sign posted in front of you. After parking the car, cross a bridge and about 600 m away, you can see the first cave on the right side of the river. After 50 m, the second cave and after 1000 m you will arrive near the third one. Here, you have a cold running water and the shadows of the big nut trees. You can spend an enjoyable day in the fresh air.

C – Geographical Status
From the geographical point of view, it is located in Central Alborz Region, and the stones of caves are made of thick limestone layers with some light Marne layer, which belongs to Permian – the last cycle of the First Period or “ Paleozoique”. This period was about 225-260 million years ago.

There are indications categorizing this cave as Karstic, which means it is created by the influence of water and rain on the natural agents.

D – General Condition of Hamelon Caves
Number 1: It is in the north of Hamelon Valley and about 25 m from the bottom of the valley. The mouth of the cave is elliptical with a 1.5 m height and 5 m width directed toward southeast. It is situated at 51؛, 28׳, "38' E – longitude and 35؛, 59׳, "01' N – latitude where the height is about 2300 m from the surface of sea level. The length of cave is about 50 m. After walking 4 m through a narrow passage, you will arrive at a hall of 20 m deep, 15 m wide and 4 m high, and then you enter a gallery, which becomes a bifurcate and at the end they join each other. Here the cave has 25 m depth with a slope of 10%. The cave is dry without stalactite or stalagmite.
Number 2: It stands about 50 m from the first cave and 3 m from the bottom of the valley. The geographical characteristic of the cave is 51؛, 28׳,"36' E – longitude and 35؛, 59׳, "01' N – latitude and the height of 2340 m. The entrance is too small and only a person crawling on the floor could enter the cave. After 15 m, you arrive to a small hall about 3 m high and 5 m wide.
Number 3: This cave is about 1 km from the first cave and about 250 m above the bottom of the valley. Its geographical characteristic is 51؛, 28׳, "31' E – longitude and 35؛,59׳, "04' N – latitude about 2450 m above the sea level. The entrance is a triangular form with a height of 3 m and the base of 2.5 m. After passing 7 m, we reach a hall. The depth of the cave is about 120 m and here you can see several small rooms. The slope of the cave is (-10 Degrees).
You can spend a nice day in a calm and secluded landscape, away from the sound, smoke and pollution of the crowded urban areas.

5- The Pioneers of Speleology in Iran
It is really very difficult to say who was the first pioneer in exploring the caves of Iran, because from the ancient times, cave was a safe place and the best shelter for mankind. As it was noted earlier, in 1932 for the first time Ghar Moghan in Khorasan was visited by an unknown group.
Afterwards, a Russian speleologist named Mateo Bouris visited Ghar Afghan (also known as Kashcool Cave) near Varamin.
At the same time, Dr. Mahmoud Behzad, visited Ghar Darband near Semnan.
In 1974 Dr. Yadollah Sahabi, professor of the Tehran University along with Dr. Abdol-Karim Gharib, the professor of geology visited Ghar Darband near Semnan.
In 1974, a group of alpinists of Nirou-Rasti visited many caves of Iran.
Now, I try to list some of the first pioneers and true lovers of nature and caves in Iran:
1- Mr. Changiz Sheikhli, who served our country and specially the alpinists and the speleologists. He has written more than 20 volumes about the caves of Iran (unfortunately, they are not published yet). May God grant him an appropriate reward and a healthy long life. He started to climb from 1945. He had many responsibilities and activities including participating in many talk shows on TV and radio.
2- Mr. Ahmad Ma’refat with a caravan of active alpinists climbed Mt. Damavand in 1944 for the first time. All the adventures, memories and dangers confronted by the group, is written in a book, named “ The Mountains & Caves of Iran”. This book was published in 1973. It is a very useful book and it includes important points and informations about mountaineering. I recommand it as a guide for the aplinists and speleologists.
3- Professor Dr. Abdul Karim Gharib has written 3 books and more than 20 articles about speleology. He has visited many provinces of Iran in order to study the caves, water resources and various types of soil in different places. He is a senior academic member of Tehran University.
4- Mr. Ali Djavan-Shad is a famous speleologist who has written a book by the name of “Ghar & Speleists (Cavers)”. This book, which was published for the second time in 1999 is really the best book for anyone who wants to know more about this field. It is full of useful advice and guidance.
5- Mr. Mohammad Sadegh Hamidi is a hard worker and true lover of the Fars Province. He lives in Shiraz. Since 1955, he has explored by himself or with his friends many caves in Shiraz and other cities of this province. According to the documents, he has explored and visited 25 caves in the region. I hope he is always healthy and would continue to visit the Ghars in the future.
6- Mr. Assadolah Djamali was the first explorer of the “Kattaleh-Khor Cave” in ZanDjan, and the first explorer of Ghar Kharmane-Sar in Deh-Bahar near Tarom in 1951. He has written a book to introduce the historical buildings and caves of the region. I add here, that I have written a letter to the Governor of Zandjan Province to install a signboard near the entrance of the cave in order to persuade the explorers and as a memorial of Djamali.

6- How to Maintain & Protect the Caves?
In December of 1941, French parliament passed the Article 14th. This article indicates that nobody has the right to ruin the caves or destroy them. Even it is not allowed to drop cigarette butts or used batteries on the ground. The experts, geologists or archeologists are only permitted to perform any kind of digging in the caves. There is a fine and penalty for illegal excavation in the caves.
1- According to the Second Article of the “Regulations and Laws of Mining in Iran (1998) ”, Ministry of Mines & Metals must permit any kind of handling and manipulation in the caves.
2- The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran in its Article 50 states that: “The preservation of the environment in which the present as well as the future generations have a right to a flourishing social existence, is regarded as a public duty in the Islamic Republic. Economic and other activities that inevitably involve pollution of the environment or cause irreparable damage to it are therefore forbidden.
3- According to the Authorities of the Governor of the Province (34th Item): “ Every activity must be completely and comprehensively be under the command of the Governor of the Province.

7- How Iran’s Speleology Committee was Established?

For the first time in June 1988, it was recognized to establish a committee in order to identify the natural and artificial (Man made) caves of Iran, to resolve the special research problems in regard to the environment, to protect cultural heritage, to introduce educational methods, to protect and maintain the caves, to provide necessary guidance to the cavers, speleologists, alpinists, and to know more about the paleomotology, archeology, geology, geomorphology, tectonic of the caves. Therefore, an agreement between 5 organizations including the Department of the Environment, Atomic Energy Organization, Cultural Heritage, Physical Education & Sports organization and the Geology Organization was reached to establish “Iran’s Speleology Committee”. This first committee began its work in 1989 .
After about ten years of activities and travel to provinces of Iran at the end of 1997 Dr. Abdol -karim Gharib- the director - resigned and the activities of the committee stopped for about 8 months.
A new committee of Speleology was formed again in 1998 with the following staff:
1- Dr. Ahmad Nakhli, representative of A.E.O.I. as the head
2- A.M. FAZEL, engineer, representetive of the Department of the Environmnet as the secretary
3- Dr. M. GOLSHAN, representative of the Cultural Heritage Organization.
4- M. SHOAIE, representative of the Physical Education Organization.
5- I. Navaie representative of the geology & mineral Organization.
They have started to write new regulations and guidelines for this work, for the main committee and the provinces.
I add here, that in the 16th sitting of the High Board of Environment which the President took part in it, he and 11 ministers emphasized the activities of the committee and announced to the governor generals of the provinces to base their committees for studying the Ghars.
Running water, stones, birds and their creatures that may be seen inside the caves and preparing some of these caves if they are valuable and available for the tourists and the industry of “Tourism”.
We have written the best characteristics and possible conditions of the cave which is approved by the high ranks.
Every month, by the invitation and the possible conditions, the members go to open and auguration and to base one provincial committee (there are 28 provinces in Iran), and I confess, it is going to grow and develop with a good and high acceleration.
I hope, we can arrange a new “Atlas of the Caves of Iran” to introduce all the caves and other possibilities for the visitors and tourists.

8- Conclusion
This is the end of my summary of Iranian Caves. I omitted many limestone and Karst areas, having only a few small caves, but maybe also a few really nice places, that I haven’t read about and seen yet. Anyway, this is of course not meant to be complete story, the accidents that were happened, the martyrs of young cavers and the unknown men, whose names have not heard until now. And remember that everywhere you go, local folks will be happy to tell you what they know, just knock on the door of the nearest farmer and ask. Of course, you can also ask me, but presently I can’t tell you much more than it is written here…….
Happy Caving!
Dr. Ahmad Nakhli

Iran Caves
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