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Panoramic Views > North > Al Batroun > Nahr El Jawz

Nahr El Jawz - Walnut River

It is a river that is like no other. It comes from the depths of the Lebanese mountains like all those of the coast, then turns southward and empties into the sea between Batroun and the Hamath block.

It still keeps its early appearance drawn by the hands of God. A stream of fairyland beauty, it has been able to safeguard its charm as few other rivers have on account of the difficulty of reaching its two banks from the moment one enters the deep gorge from the seashore at its western end. It renders possible the cultivation of a number of small private properties, watering the gardens and plots of farmland belonging to Batroun and Koubba. Higher up, however, it runs unchecked with rapids and falls between banks steep and still untamed.

Over half a mile from its mouth there stands on a rocky pinnacle an old fortress constructed in the eighteenth century to safeguard the only road then existing between Beirut and Tripoli. “El-Moussaylaha” of Meslaha (the Lucky) has been invaded by pollution and by the bulldozers of the destroyers of Nature. Exploiters have scooped out a quarry, eating away at the mountain and spoiling it utterly. Where are the orange and banana groves that I used to know and admire?

The site has become an industrial waste, filled with metal and plastic boxes and bottles and suchlike rubbish, though fortunately there is now thought of geological face-lifting to replant this area with trees and restore some of its mystery.

The river itself comes from two springs bubbling up above Tannourine, some five thousand five hundred feet above sea level and facing Douma at some seven thousand five hundred feet. Aïn el-Dally is on the east side of the village and the spring El-Fattah on the south side, giving rise to two streams that meet to form the main river passing below Tannourine’s forest of cedars and winding past several villages to finally reach the coast south of Koubba, its remaining trickle pouring out through a humble mouth.

The river runs through Beit Shlela and the fairylike village of Kfar Hilda, known also as Bsetines el-Ossi, the Gardens of Ossi, where the waterfalls entrance the spectator. One has an unforgettable and deeply moving view that is impossible to describe. Confronted by the water, the greenery and the plunging falls, one might imagine oneself in Paradise. On February 24th, 1998, the Environment Minister listed Nahr el-Jawz as a National and Historic Heritage Site.

The river follows its course for twenty miles descending from the heights at an altitude of seven thousand five hundred feet. At the more accessible spots by the river there are water mills, cafés and restaurants, with a large influx of visitors. Beside Kaftoun there is a power station served by pipes with a fall of over three hundred feet, supplying electricity to the factories and cement works of Shekka.

At the village of Kaftoun itself one finds a very old monastery dating from the sixth century, built half in the rocky cliff and restored by the Service of Antiquities. It has excellent religious frescoes and in it a dozen Orthodox nuns produce fine textile and work on cultivating the gardens and preserving the property, as well as raising their voices in prayer to the Lord. Facing Kaftoun on the other river bank is the village of Buksmaya, a name implying the god Bacchus and wine or Bacchus and the riverside.

Several routes lead past the river: from Batroun or Shekka to Tannourine, from Byblos past Ehmej and Bsheeleh, and past Hadeth Jebbeh from the North. Near Kaftoun the river is visited by scores of buses full of sightseers and by holidaymakers coming for a picnic, and leaving rubbish in the form of cartons, tin cans, boxes and plastic bottles, so obliging the electricity company running the power station to close all roads leading to it.

The river serves the water mills, irrigated fields, power generators, cafés and restaurants and in addition some of the water is pumped for domestic use in Batroun and the region. But visitors will be charmed above all by the trees along the river banks, above all by the walnut trees which grow in preference close to water and which have given the river their name.

Joseph Matar - Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer


- Nahr El Jawz: >> View Movie << (2011-01-01)
 

 


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