When it comes to the name of Fars province, we all remember the beautiful city of Shiraz and the numerous historical monuments and sites of this province but this part of our country also holds the most beautiful natural landscapes. Maharlu is the name of a lake in the city of Sarvestan in Fars province which is also known by other names such as Mahlou, Mahlouyeh, and older names such as Jenkal or Salt Lake. The name of the lake is derived from the name of the village of Maharlu in the vicinity of Shiraz, located in the coastal part of the lake. A village that dates back to the Safavid era and was called Dasht-e gol (the plain of flowers) in the old days. It has an area of 25,000 hectares and is very salty and a significant amount of salt is obtained from this lake every year. Maharlu Lake is used to produce industrial salt in Fars province. The project of salt processing from this lake is carried out by the Shiraz Petrochemical Complex. Maharlu is one of the strangest and most amazing natural attractions of Fars province, which hosts many nature tours every day.
The Maharlu water is supplied by the seasonal rivers (Sultanabad and Arid Rivers) and some parts of it feed from several underground springs. The Maharlu Lake is also a safe haven for small and large birds, the most important of which is the flamingo. Other birds such as Mallard, Duck, herons, Storks, Pelican, Grebes, Cormorants, Egrets, Sandpipers, Chooka, Ruddy shelduck and common shelduck also live near this lake.
Maharlu Lake is about 18 kilometers southeast of Shiraz at an altitude of 1560 meters above sea level and is one of the most significant tourist attractions and recreational areas due to its proximity to Shiraz metropolis. Maharlu Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Iran, due to the geographical conditions of the lake; the water color of it has changed to red and pink!
Because of the high evaporation rate in Maharlu, part of the lake’s bed is covered by a layer of salt, and water is available only in the northern and central parts with very low depth and high salinity.
One of the interesting phenomena of this lake is the presence of red tides. Red tides or red algae are a species of algae resistant to salinity. Over-proliferation of these organisms results in increase of the algae density above the water surface and to form a layer that prevents air exchange with water and ultimately reduces oxygen. Under these conditions, some of these aquatic microorganisms produce toxins that are a potential hazard to aquatic life. It is thus endangering the lives of aquatic organisms, animals and birds near the lake. So no living creature can survive inside this mysterious lake, except for an aquatic species called Artima!
Maharlu is a seasonal lake and during the summer much of its area becomes dry. As the rains begin in the fall and winter seasons, the lake’s water level rises again. From fall to mid-May, are the best seasons to visit the lake.
Apart from the beautiful lake of Maharlu, the village of Maharlu also has high tourism potential. The village is located on the southern slopes of the Zagros Mountains. The houses of this village have tall beautiful vaults and the arched windows add to their beauty. Gardens full of almonds, pomegranates and figs trees set in the vicinity of the village’s mineral springs have also added to Maharlu’s beauty and attraction. Many villagers believe that the water of this spring has healing potential and treats many skin diseases. If you are a pilgrim, you can also go to Khadijeh Banu shrine on a hill in the village.