Sunday, August 7, 2011
The Tar Spring of Dehloran is located in Ilam province in a natural protected area named Abgarm on the slopes of Siah Kooh, approximately 7 kilometers northeast of Dehloran adjacent to an abandoned building belonging to the National Oil Company. The road to the Tar Spring starts near Dehloran and leads to the Abgarm natural protected area where a sign guides visitors to the Spring via a narrow road. The last few hundred meters of the road is not suitable for vehicles and requires a short walk to reach to the Spring. An unpleasant odor emits from this Spring and visitors will notice the smell of tar as they approach. The area also contains mineral water springs, native trees, bat caves and also a special scarce type of bat.
The Spring’s diameter is about 9 meters and an has approximate depth of 50 centimeters. Hot water full of liquid tar particles flows out of it. There is a fence to protect animals from approaching and getting trapped in the tar. From this natural liquid spring, a mix of tar and water flows to the surface of the earth from underground. The water passes through stones that have alloy substance, and therefore gets mixed with tar. The mixture subsequently accumulates in a small pool and ultimately flows outside. The exit flow merges with water from other hot springs containing sulfur and leaves a very visible tar residue along its path.
According to myths told by the native people, this tar spring was the blood of a dragon that was killed by the Iranian hero, Esfandiar. Ancient Iranians made full use of this natural spring in naval and construction industries by applying the tar to render ships and roofs waterproof going about 3000 years back. The Roman historian, Procopius, in the 6th century spoke of the Mede’s oil and how Iranians would mix this oil with sulfur, set it on fire and launch its containers at their enemies. According to Procopius, this fiery concoction was made in such a way that it would float on water and thus could be used to destroy approaching enemy ships as well.
During the course of the World War I, British troops had intended to utilize this Spring and as a result had constructed railway tracks to its close proximity which still stands today. Currently the Tar Spring remains very much neglected and in spite of its obvious natural benefits and room for improvement in Dehloran and Ilam in general, no use is being made of it other than as a tourist attraction.