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GarmChashma (Hot Spring)

Location – Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, Ishkashim district. 42km southeast of Khorugh, 60km from Ishkashim.

GarmChashma (Hot Spring) is located 2,325m above sea level on the western slope of the Shohdaramountains and midway along the GarmChashma River, a tributary of the Panj River. The spring must be several thousand years old, judging by the huge travertine sediment cascading down to the river, which could only have been formed by centuries of buildup. The showers of bright white, yellow and 92 brown mineral deposits stretch in the form of a curved hill 1.5km long, 35-45m wide and 7-35m high.

The mineral water comes to the surface at the crest in both large and small geysers, gushing forth fountains 10cm — 1.5m high. About 5-7 litres of hot water per second come out of the geysers. The water brings with it lime-calcite balls 0.5 to 4 cm in diameter, mixed with a white powder of a lime-gypsum character. The travertine hill has natural pools 0.5 to 20 m2 in area and 0.5m deep. They are filled with hot turquoise water that contains iron, aluminium, magnesium, strontium, fluorine and other elements. The water also contains a large quantity of hydrogen sulphide(170 milligram/litre), silicic acid (135 milligram/litre) and carbonic acid (381 milligram/litre).

The temperature of the water as it comes out of the geysers is around 62ºC. The temperature of the water in the pools fluctuates between 38-50ºC, depending on the distance from the spring. The outer walls of the reservoir look majestic, with white stalactites covered by algae of various colours. The bottom of the largest pool is covered with the soft residue of calcium carbonate and sulphur sediment. There are also carbonated mineral springs with a constant temperature 14ºC in the area, the water of which is used by local residents as drinking water. Hot springs are quite a rare natural phenomenon, attracting the attention of the local population who believe the waters can heal diseases, giving the spring sanctity.

According to the records of travellers who visited the region in the late 19th century, local residents constructed altars here – various holy items and oil lamps placed in small niches in the rocks, close to the places where the water came to the surface. The people’s worship traditions are rooted in antiquity. The history of the holy springs has not yet been deeply studied. The favourable climate where the springs are located is another valuable factor in spa treatment; in combination with hydrotherapy, the climate assists greatly in recovery from cardiac-vascular diseases, nervous and musculoskeletal disorders, as well as skin diseases and gynecological problems. The GarmChashmahydropathic establishment was first constructed in 1957 in the place where the mineral water comes up, and it has been rebuilt several times.