Arts & Culture, History & Heritage, Nature & Environment, Travel & Leisure

Jeita Grottos

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Went to visit the natural wonders at Jeita grottos yesterday from Beirut.  Jeita is about 18 kilometers north of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

A small trip of aerial lift takes you to the upper region, just outside the entrance of the upper cave. There is a small train also that takes the visitors to the upper cave.

The gondola takes the visitors over the river through beautiful natural scenery.

There is unique sculpture near the upper cave entrance.

After the visiting the upper cave, we walked down to the entrance of the lower cave.

Road from upper cave to lower cave of Jeita grotto. The track is to help the toy train for visitors to move up.

There is another sculpture – The Guardian of Time at the entrance of the lower cave.

The Guardian of Time

There are many sculptures lying around.

The Jeita Grotto is a compound two separate but interconnected limestone caves. The caves are situated in the Nahr al-Kalb valley. In these caves and galleries, known to man since Paleolithic times, the action of water has created cathedral-like vaults beneath the wooded hills of Mount Lebanon. Jeita accommodates two crystallized grottoes with natural sculptural beauty with rock formations that seem to glow in the dark.

Though inhabited in prehistoric times, the lower cave was not rediscovered until 1836 by Reverend William Thomson. This rare and marvellous natural wonder features a lower cave where the visitor can take a short dreamy cruise on a rowboat for a distance of approximately 450 meters of the 6200 meters from the explored part of the site.

In 1958, Lebanese speleologists discovered the upper galleries 60 metres above the lower cave which have been accommodated with an access tunnel and a series of walkways to enable tourists’ safe access without disturbing the natural landscape. The upper galleries house the world’s largest stalactite. The upper cave contains a great concentration of a variety of crystallized formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns.

The Jeita caves have formed over millions of years due to the dissolution of limestone. The limestone is dissolved by carbonic acid charged rain water and groundwater. It is the longest cave complex in the Middle East. Photography inside the caves is banned. The visitors have to leave their cameras and mobile phones outside before entering the caves.

The Jeita Grotto is a candidate for the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition. It was selected as one of 28 finalists and is the only cave to be selected among the nominees. The New 7 Wonders Foundation is to announce the new wonders of nature in 2011. I have voted for it.

Please share with me your thoughts and comments. Thank you!

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