You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Well you can’t go. You can stare into it, but you can’t go. But you can go to ‘Heaven’.
For these are the names of two dramatic caves on the southern Turkish coast reached by a winding mountain road from the town of Narlikuyu. In Turkish, they are named ‘Cennet Çökügü’, or simply Cennet (‘Heaven’) and Cehennem Çukuru, or Cehennem (‘Hell’). They are interesting for those who like geography (particularly caves) and also those who like mythology. The mythology of these two places are fascinating.
Heaven involves a descent into a valley, or a pit. Down over 400 steps, the air gets colder and everything seems still, the cavern opens out in front of you. Birdsong bounces off the walls of the valley, giving a slightly disorientating feeling. Keep an eye open for the hundreds of pieces of cloth which have been tied to the tree branches – visitors exhibiting religious ritual. Continuing the walk over to this enormous wound in the rock makes you feel very small indeed. The valley is over 100 metres wide and almost 100 metres deep. The mouth of the cave yawns in front of you. The big shock is when you see what’s in the cave though.
Yes, that’s right, it’s a 5th century Byzantine Chapel – you really can’t move for them these days. It’s called the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, and we’ll see how that came to be there, later.
Heading past the chapel you go further into the cave. A table and chairs have been rigged up to provide somewhere for a bit of a rest. Not at the top – at the bottom.
It’s not possible to go right to the very end of the cave, as last reports indicate that it was blocked off by a barrier. But beyond this barrier is a free running underground stream (videos of this underground water source can be found online). In winter, when there’s more water running here, the stream can be heard as quite a distinctive roar apparently. It was this noise which convinced ancient peoples who visited the cave, that within the depths of this dank place, lived a monster (see the note on ‘Typhon’ below). The chapel mentioned above was so placed to try to neutralise and defend against the threat posed by this monster.
Going back up, into the burning sunlight, thoughts turn to ‘Hell’. Wandering over and away from Heaven, this cave is a massive sinkhole. The floor of the cave is inaccessible. The bottom of this huge chasm, or pit, is some 130 metres straight down. Apparently, there was, at one time, a steel ladder which led to the bottom of this pit, but there were no signs of this. The best view you can now get is from a steel viewing platform which is positionedslightly beyond the lip of the chasm, and overhanging the drop. Not for the faint hearted.
The sides of Cehennem look scorched. This is where the mythology comes in. The King of the Gods Zeus, was said to have battled Typhon, ‘The Father of All Monsters’ – a creature with over 100 serpent heads. Getting the upper hand on this slippery devil, Zeus threw Tyhpon into Cehennem, where the beast remained imprisoned. The scorch-marks are said to have been caused by Typhon’s fiery breath, in its rage, unable to escape.
So, as you can see, in this case it really is easier to get into ‘Heaven’ than it is to get into Hell.
See a video, said to be of the stream in the depths of Cennet HERE
See where this place is on a map over at TRAVPAD
Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina, South America
Quite terrifying waterfall (“big water”) on the borders of Brazil and Argentina. It falls around 269 feet.
The fall is made up of hundreds of smaller waterfalls, depending on rainfall. In terms of surface water flowing over the falls, Iguazu Falls is over twice as large as the perhaps more famous Niagara Falls.
It’s been featured in both Bond and Indiana Jones films – not to mention Miami Vice.
Legend has it that an ancient god planned to marry a beautiful woman. She spurned the almighty for her mortal lover. They both foolishly paddled off together in a canoe, looking forward to some ‘together time’, banking on the fact that the god was probably going to be a good sport about it. You guessed it, no, no he wasn’t. In rage, he sliced at them on the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.
Grande Cascade de Gavarnie (Gavernie Waterfall), France, Europe
The highest waterfall in France, plunging a powerful 420 metres.
A stunning waterfall, set in even more jaw-dropping surroundings, the Gavernie Waterfall is a temperamental beast. In the hottest of summers, it’s a torrent. In winter – even with a sniff of a cold breeze, it just stops flowing.
This is largely due to the fact that it is sourced from the glacier above it – in actual fact, on the Spanish side. The waters sink underground, then surface on the very lip of the fall, before thundering down into the rocks below.
Skógarfoss, Iceland, Europe
Immense waterfall, which hides a mystery treasure
The Skógarfoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country with a width of 25 metres (82 feet) and a drop of 60 metres (200ft).
According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, “Þrasi Þórólfsson”, buried a treasure-chest in a cave behind the waterfall. The legend continues that, after a particularly cold summer, when the ice-melt wasn’t too great, the waterfall had a reduced flow – incredibly rarely. One of the rings of the treasure-chest became visible. A local bravely climbed up and grabbed for the ring, found it, and clung on for dear life. Eventually, the handle of the chest could not hold his weight and broke free from the chest. The ring was allegedly given to the local church. The old church door ring is now in a folk museum, a few hundred metres away where it can be seen.
A particularly amazing option – and one not to be missed – is the fact that you can camp on that patch of grass you can see to the right of the picture. This means that the rumble of the falls lulls you into your slumber and the clean, iced, crisp smell of the glacial waters assaults your nostrils when you awake.
McWay Falls, California, North America
Possibly one of the most beautiful settings for a waterfall on the planet. This waterfall isn’t big, and it isn’t powerful. But just *look* at it …
The drop is quite modest to some of its American cousins, but the sheer beauty of this fall and the cove in which it empties makes this little place quite special.
Steinsdalsfossen Waterfall, Norway, Europe
The waterfall is only 50 metres high and is best visited when glacial melt swell the waters. It is one of the most visited waterfalls in Norway because of a rather unusual feature.
Steinsdalsfossen leaps right over the edge of a cliff, and also over a path, on which pedestrians can wander underneath it. Looking up, you can plainly see the hundreds of tonnes of water thundering just past your head, whilst keeping your feet completely dry.