The Cold Abyss of Sahullan

The Cold Abyss of SahullanThe Cold Abyss of Sahullan

Among the mountains of West Azerbaijan, 155 km southeast of Urumia lake, the earth has opened its limestone jaws and revealed deep cold watery depths. The cave is called Sahullan, for Sehul and Sehullan are respectively ice and frost in the Kurdish language of Mahabad, the city 42 km northwest of the cave.

In terms of dimensions, it is second to Ali-Sadr cave in Hamedan Province, which is the world’s largest water cave. The cave interior is 50 meters high from its lake surface. The waters are sometimes 30 meters deep.

The cave is located in a small hill on the slopes of Qotur mountains. It has two entrances. The main entrance is known by locals as Laneh-Kutar ‘dove nest’; it is where a large flock of birds chose to build their nests.

A steep slope leads the visitors to the surface of the lake. There, stalactites and stalagmites have been formed in various shapes. The waters are crystal clear letting a clear view of a jagged bed.

A channel at 2 meters width links the two lakes of the cave. The second lake, which is larger, has an island in the middle, where the visitors can get off the boat.

 Geomorphologic evidence collected from within the cave suggests that it has been formed due to heating and expansion of deep still ground-waters. Throughout the cave there are horizontal ledges of calcite deposits on the walls that are indicative of higher water levels in the past.

 ‘Dwelling Den’

There is also evidence of human settlement in pre-historic times. Some 20 meters above the main entrance of Laneh Kutar, there is another entrance locally known as Koneh Mallan ‘dwelling den’. It is relatively a narrow passage thought to be a prehistoric settlement, on the basis of the discovered earthenware dating back to the 2nd and 1st millennia BC. The findings show that the settlement continued well into Parthian era and even Islamic and medieval times, according to IRIB’s research center.

Sahullan Cave is situated between cities of Mahabad and Bukan. The access road is through Issa-Kand village, 38 km from Mahabad, and 26 km from Bukan. Visitors are recommended to dress warm or take enough clothing as the inside temperature is 10 to 15 degrees colder than the outside.