The Mystery ofAzhdahak

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Introduction

The geography of the Geghama mountain range is an extensive high tableland type watershed of the basins of Lake Sevan from east, inflows of rivers Araks and Razdan from north and west, Azat and Vedi Rivers from south-west and Arpa river from south. Almost the entire range is volcanic in origin with a large number of extinct volcanoes. The range is around 70 kilometers in length and 48 kilometers in width. The average elevation of Geghama mountain range is near 2500m.

The highest point of the range is volcano Azhdahak, which has an elevation of 3597 meters above sea level and is located in the western part of the range. It is an extinct volcano. There is a lake inside the crater. The lake is formed from melting snow. Though, not all the snow around the lake melts, even in the height of summer, due to the altitude.


Volcano Azhdahak

The western slopes gradate smoothly forming tablelands of stratovolcanoes down towards ones near Lake Sevan. The southern slopes go down to the Hrazdan valle formingpre-mountain belt of peaks of Hadis, Gutanasar, Menakasar and other volcanoes.


Azhdahak Crater lake

The view of Azhdahak Crater Lake always changes depending on the amount of sunlight, factors such as the presence of clouds, time of the day, season, strength and direction of the wind. The water in the lake is so pure and clear that the bottom of the crater is always visible.


Crater lake water

From the summit of Azhdahak opens pictorial landscape of Mount Ararat, Kotayk valley, Lake Sevan and the whole Geghama mountain range. It is remarkable that the peak of mount Azhdahak forms a straight line with the peaks of Hadis, Ara and Aragats, which is easy to notice from one of these summits. Azat, Argitchi, Gavaraget, Bakhtak, Vedi and other rivers all have their source in the Geghama range.

The flora is alpine and subalpine, occurring at elevations of 2400 to 3600 meters above sea level. The topography varies from the snowcapped peaks, glaciers, volcanic cones, plateaus, steep scree slopes, loose talus slopes, huge concentrations of rock boulders in depressions, and many springs and alpine lakes.

One of the many places of interest in the Geghama mountain range is Lake Akna. Akna means "eye" in Armenian. Akna ("mother") is also the goddess of maternity and birth in the Mayan mythology.


Lake Akna

This lake is of volcanic origin and is located on the frontier of Kotayk and Gegharkunik regions. In the body of volcano Lchain is engraved an extensive (dia on crest up to 1000m) and deep (up to 120м), opened to the north-west crater, that is occupied by waters of a south-east bay of lake Akna. Its area is 0.8 square meters, depth more than 15 meters and with a water capacity of 3.91 cubic meters. Lake Mirror mark is 3032m. Lake is used for watering more than 13000 hectare. In winter the lake freezes.

Lake Akna is as much beautiful, as treacherous. It has taken lives of fishermen, shepherds and even tourists....

At elevations over 3000 meters winter is cold, lasting on average 245 days of the year. Temperatures range from -10 Celsius to -40 Celsius. The average annual precipitation is 500 - 900 millimeters. The snow depth can reach several meters and remains on the ground throughout the year in some areas. Spring is cold with high humidity. Maximum temperature occurs in August. Strong winds and fog are frequent.


Kakavaberd Fortress

Waterfall in the Forest

Khosrov Forest Reserve

The south-eastern slopes of the Geghama Mountains (at approximately 2250 meters elevation) go across the legendary Khosrov forest. This forest rests in the basin of the river Khosrov and was declared a National Forest Reserve. According to legend, this reservation was the idea of Khosrov King Kotak who reigned from around 279 - 87 AD. Trees were planted on the dry and stony slopes, and animals were brought from the whole Armenia. Man-made Forest became home to many fauna and flora. The forest occupies 150 square meters and has maximum elevation of 2000 meters.


"Geghama Mountains" M. Saroyan

Reflection in art: painting "Geghama Mountains" by M. Saroyan, 1926. For unknown for us reason, while picturing Geghama Mountains the painter, however, has left Azhdahak beyond the clouds.