Sacred Spaces come to exist on their own, created by the hand of nature. A spectacular sight to see, where nature carved its way through, the Baatara gorge, lies unchanged, untouched, flowing to the pace of its own flow. A vision of beauty it lies deep into the valley below where three natural bridges, rising one above the other and overhanging a chasm descend into Mount Lebanon.
The Baatara Gorge Waterfall, also known as the Cave Of Three Bridges, is an impressive natural wonder located in Tannourine near Balaa. This incredible waterfall flows through a three bridge chasm, an amazing vision on its own, plunging 255m down a limestone formation, which is a result of millions of years of erosion, persisting to this day.
This natural formation has been a masterpiece in the making for millions of years. After winter, when Mount Lebanon begins to melt, the ice turns to water and floods down into these cliffs, creating a waterfall that slowly carves away the limestone, year by year. Today this limestone is over 160-million years old, having existed in the Jurassic period, when dinosaurs were wandering the Earth. The age of these limestone cliffs, paired with all of the water damage they have received over the years, gives the walls of this waterfall its breathtaking lure.
The top bridge is reported to be the oldest formation, then over a vast period of time vertical and circular erosion, combined with a series of collapses created the middle and bottom two bridges. Even today the development of the pothole is not complete, neither will it ever be while water flows in to it. Most destructive are the winter freezes which, when the ice melts, often cause large chunks of the side of the pothole to break away. During the spring melt, a 90–100-metre cascade falls behind the three bridges and then down into the 240-metre chasm.
Discovered to the western world in 1952 by French bio-speleogist Henri Coiffait. The waterfall and accompanying sinkhole were fully mapped in the 1980s by the Spéléo Club du Liban. A 1988 fluorescent dye test demonstrated that the water emerged at the spring of Dalleh in Mgharet al-Ghaouaghir (located near Balaa).
The formation is vital to the locality as it is from here that much of the fresh water in the area is sourced. Water from the stream slowly infiltrated the limestone over the millennia.
Light pierces through the gorge of nature’s enigma as the magical sound, of the cascading water, drowns the silence surrounding it. Down the barren limestone tower, it falls. Another fraction of a second as the slimmer of sun’s glints through the crystal clear waters, running, streaking of the sweetest melodies.
Thundering, head held high, sublime in its force, this gorge of beating hearts, stands proud in its simplicity. The lack of man made messes, as it oscillates on it’s own, without our help, is its key to enjoying its ever changing journey.
As the water toils away to create a tunnel, through the challenges, forming its own path, in its magnificence it displays how mountains give way to courage, and how others shall follow. Remember this too shall change. Those cliffs are far from done changing, the water still falls directly on the limestone in places, and over time this too will wear away.
With all its might and all its power, this too shall transform, meandering on this earth with one purpose to keep flowing, no matter the journey.