Iskanderkul Lake is one of the signature sights of Tajikistan. It is impossible to imagine a trip to Tajikistan without paying a visit to Iskanderkul Lake. It is as if being in Paris but not seeing Eiffel Tower. After all, it is not difficult to get to this haunted point – it is located only 130 km away from Dushanbe.
The name of Iskanderkul Lake means the Lake of Alexander the Great, where “Iskander” - this is how Alexander the Great was named in the East and “kul” means lake in Turkic languages. It has not been proved if the well-known commander had been there or not, but there are few legends about the lake connected with his name.
According to one of them, during the campaign against Sogdiana and Bactria, Alexander the Great faced resistance in one of the mountain villages, they didn’t want to obey to the great leader. Alexander then ordered to change the flow of the river in order to drown the disobedient; this is how Iskanderkul Lake appeared.
According to another legend, during his conquests, Alexander the Great decided to halt on the shores of the lake, and his favorite horse Bucephalus got cold after drinking ice cold water of Iskanderkul Lake. When the horse was back in shape again, it jumped to the lake from a high cliff. Alexander waited few days, then left his stablemen by the lake, and drew his army away. Since then, during the moonlight, they say you can see a snow-white horse that comes out of water to graze by the lake.
From scientific point of view, Iskanderkul Lake is crater lake formed after a rock fall. It is located on the height of 2195 meters above the sea level, and reaches 72 meters in depth with a territory of 3,4 square km. It is possible to swim there, and many tourists rest on pebbled beaches in summer time, but 10 meters away from the shores, temperature of water falls rapidly approximately down to 10 degrees Celsius.
There are few other sights apart from Iskanderkul Lake: Zmeinoe (Snake) Lake that is a place for a big amount of snakes due to its higher temperature of water; 43-meter waterfall “Fann Niagara” located on the river flowing from Iskanderkul; and a cliff with inscription Рускiе (Russians), 1870 left by an expedition of a well-known scientist and traveler Aleksey Fedchenko.
It is worth spending a day for a trip to Iskanderkul from Dushanbe as the memories of this beautiful lake will stay with you forever.