Cheshmeh-Ali: How an ancient spring is disappearing

June 2, 2018 - 20:18

TEHRAN - From the ancient times until almost the past year, Cheshmeh-Ali has been a source of vitality to a historical area of the same name in southern Tehran.

Cheshmeh-Ali, literally meaning Spring of Ali, is an underground mineral stream that pours into an open-air pool which has long been a traditional destination for sightseers and a recreational center for the locals. 

However, months of substantial water-flow shrinkage has dropped it off, prompting voices of dissatisfaction over the fate of the ancient site.

Officials and cultural heritage enthusiasts have repeatedly warned about the vanishing spring with some putting the blame on the Tehran Urban & Suburban Railway Operation Co., saying the problem arises from a tunnel construction for developing the line six of the [Tehran] subway, ISNA reported on Friday.

“The flow of Cheshmeh-Ali came to halt after a tunnel was drilled along the line six of the subway though after a while a poor current was established,” Tehran City Council member Ahmad Masjed-Jamei said.

“Subway authorities should make it clear to the representatives of people at the City Council that how the rail route is being designed that has caused drought conditions for this vital and ancient spring. They should also clarify what plans and actions they have taken so far or will follow in this regard.”

Cheshmeh-Ali is in the neighborhood of the ancient Ebn-e Babveyh cemetery, the 12th-century Tughrul Tower, the historical Rashkan Castle and next to the aged Rey Castle.

During the summertime, Cheshmeh-Ali and its surroundings are occupied by hundreds of locals who came for swimming and having fun.

Another attraction of the site is a 19th-century rock-carved relief that overlooks the pool. The artwork was commissioned by the Qajar king Fath Ali shah who reigned from 1797 to 1834. Cheshmeh Ali also contains an archaeological site estimated to date from the 4 millennium BC.

Narratives say that the locals used to clean their rugs in the pool, believing that properties of the mineral water make the rugs brighter in color.

PHOTO: People visit Cheshmeh-Ali, a historical site in southern Tehran.


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