Where Legends Prevail and Rivers Meet

Where Legends Prevail and Rivers MeetWhere Legends Prevail and Rivers Meet

Under the dry desert of Rafsanjan county in Kerman Province lays a large body of water. The lake, called Chah-Darya or ‘sea-well’, is one of the few underground lakes in Iran, Mehr News reported.

Rafsanjan, one of the driest places of Kerman is also home to the vastest hand-sown pistachio forests.

Far beneath the Rafsanjan land surface, located in the central Iranian Plateau, there is an underground lake accessible by one of the longest natural pits in the country.

At one time the lake’s surface was visible when passing by the pit. Farmers could estimate the amount of water they had in reserve just by casting an eye over the top of the pit.  Years of drought, added to excessive usage of the underground waters, has caused the water levels to drop to the darkest depths of the pit.


Chah-Darya is both wonderful as it is scary. Many have ventured into its dark depths, never to return. Locals tell tales of monsters reigning dominion over the underworld.  These are more like bonfire horror stories told for amusement, especially when the audience are new to the trick.

Another is a tale of a cameleer who was passing the Audarj village in Kerman when his camels went astray over a hill.  So he threw his walking stick over the hill to signal the camels back, but once he reached the top, he could see neither the camels nor his stick, but only a large hole in the ground gaping at the sky. After a few days, it comes to pass that the man is walking by Zayandehrud River in Isfahan, and low and behold he sees his walking stick floating on the river.  And so the saying goes that the underground lake is the point where all the rivers and qanats in Iran meet.  Imaginary as they may be, the legends reflect the significance of the pit among the people of the region.

Kerman Province breaks many records and is home to many unusual phenomena.  It is the hottest place on Earth, the lowest depression point on the central Iranian Plateau. There are also the yardangs of Shahdad desert, but Chah-Darya is both unusual and mythical.

Some studies have been made on the underground lake, but no one has figured out how the pit was created. The most plausible theory is that the land surface could have collapsed, tourism deputy of Iran’s cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) in Kerman, Mohammad Jahanshahi, said.

The pit is situated between Rafsanjan and Zarand, some 15 km from Davaran village. It is in an area covered with erosive soil. There are some yardangs near the mouth of the pit. The mouth is comprised of two conical spaces, one 60 meters wide, the other 30.

The vast void between the mouth of the pit and the underground lake allows ample space for eco-tourists, adventurers, and speleologists to wander around. Despite attempts by a number of speleologists to explore the huge pit and the lake below, it has kept its secret safe and many dark corners remain undiscovered.  

Kerman has many underground caves, some with flowing rivers inside. There are numerous underground rivers in Baft county, where unique, natural, yet unusual scenes are created.