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Wonders of Iran: Lake Zarivar
Mon, 10 May 2010 16:37:34 GMT
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Lake Zrewar, Kordestan, Iran
By Tamara Ebrahimpour

In Iran's western Kordestan Province lies one of the most beautiful lakes of the country, which is believed to be among the world's largest sweet water lakes.

Lake Zarivar is located two kilometers west of the historical city of Marivan and attracts scores of tourists and nature-lovers.

Situated 1,285 meters above sea level, the lake provides a breathtaking view with its sparkling sweet water, supplied by subterranean sources rising at its bottom.

The mythological landmark is five kilometers long and up to six meters deep in some parts. It can hold a total of 22.5 to 47.5 cubic meters of sweet water throughout the year.

The name Zarivar is composed of the Kurdish word 'ziré' meaning 'sea' and 'bar' which denotes 'lake.'

There are many legends about the origins of the lake, the most famous of which holds that there once stood a city of the same name in its place that was governed by a wicked ruler.

Legend has that the city was drowned after a sage appealed to the mercy of Ahura Mazda, the Supreme God of Zoroastrians, to end the atrocities of the wicked ruler. The sage's plea was answered and dozens of springs flowed from under the city and submerged the city along with the tyrant ruler.

Legend holds that the sage was buried in the mountain facing the lake.

With its natural springs, mountains, and eye catching forests, Lake Zarivar is considered as the most famous tourist attraction of Kordestan Province, which spans an area of about 185,000 hectares.

The climatic diversity and average temperature of Lake Zarivar provide a suitable and desirable place for tourists to relax in spring and summer.

In winter a layer of ice sheet covers the entire surface of the lake, except around the sixty spots where the springs flow.

A unique characteristic of Lake Zarivar is that no river flows into it and its water source is limited to the nearby snow-covered mountains and the natural springs flowing at its bottom.

White water lilies and long reeds frame the lake, creating a dream-like sight to behold.

With some 37 rare bird species and its diverse flora and fauna, Lake Zarivar is recognized as one of Iran's unique natural heritage sites.

Adequate humidity and rain have provided a suitable condition for the growth of dense oak woods and different types of forest tress.

Maple, wild pear, ash, walnut, wild apple, wild pistachio, hawthorn, cherry and almond tress are only part of the rich plant life of the lake.

The area also hosts diverse animal species such as forest dormice, golden hamsters, marbled polecats, ermines, Eurasian lynx and white-toothed shrew, most of which are enlisted as endangered species.

The Kordestan forests host 34 legal hunting grounds with various species of boars, jackals, foxes, goats, rams, ewes and bears as well as birds such as partridges, turtledoves, quails, ducks, storks and woodpeckers.

Lake Zarivar also houses a wide range of fish species, including different types of carp, topmouth gudgeon, spiny eel and a genus of ray-finned fish called Chalcalburnus.

The disastrous effects of human intervention on the wildlife and natural beauty of Lake Zarivar has, however, raised concerns about the future of the lake.

A canal connecting Ghezelcheh-Sou River and Lake Zarivar is threatening Lake Zarivar and can destroy the lake over the next 50 years. This is while under natural circumstances the lake would survive up to a million years.

The Ghezelcheh-Sou sediments carried by the canal into the lake will make Zarivar shallower over time. Sunshine will also cause water plants to grow and contribute to the destruction of the lake with the passage of time.

Environmentalists have warned that if the current trend of industrialization continues in the area, the total destruction of the site in the near future will not be unforeseeable.
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