The caves of Lebanon > JIITA CAVE
In 1940, Lionel Ghorra entered Jiita cave for the first time. He only entered the first 40m.
In 1946, the first Lebanese caving expedition into Jiita cave takes place and the team reaches 2000m. Three caving expeditions later and the explorers extend the development from 2000m to the 2800m mark.
In 1951, the Lebanese Caving Club is founded (Spéléo Club du Liban – SCL). The terminal siphon of the Jiita underground river is reached at 6200m in 1953. It is worth mentioning that the last British-American expedition to the cave reached only 2000m.
In 1955, the tourism commissionership assigned one of the SCL members, Sami Karkabi to develop Jiita cave’s underground river for tourism purposes and in 1956 the then Lebanese President Camille Chamoun inaugurates the tourist section of the Jiita cave underground river in the presence of SCL members.
In 1958, SCL members discover the “Upper Galleries” in Jiita Cave. And in 1960, the survey of the first 2000m within Jiita on behalf of the Beirut Water Office is drawn.
In 1960, a double colouring of the Jiita river, the first at 2700m, the second at 6200m, is made in order to detect any water loss from the underground river.
In 1963, a detailed survey until the terminal siphon in Jiita on behalf of the Beirut Water Office is completed. This operation studied a tunnel which leads to the terminal siphon to eventually develop a way to harness the water (14 consecutive days underground).
In 1966, joint Lebanese-French expedition into Jiita by the SCL and Spéléo-Club Languedocien de Montpellier. First underground diving operation with the collaboration of the Lyon divers. The reached depth within the siphon was –24 m.
In 1968, the beginning of the tunnel piercing process at the Jiita “Upper Galleries” and development works for the same area under the surveillance of Sami Karkabi begins and in 1969 the official opening of the Jiita “Upper Galleries” for tourists takes place under the patronage of President Charles Helou. An electro-acoustic concert is organized by the National Tourism Council and presented within the grotto under the direction of the conductor Francois Bayle. On that occasion Mr. Bayle composed a special piece he dedicated to the Jiita grotto, which he called “Jiita: the whispering waters”. Thus, for the first time in musical and caving history, music is composed to honor the sound resonance in a cave’s space. A CD with the music was marketed in international music outlets. During the Lebanese civil war the cave entrance is blocked using concrete to protect the cave and in the late eighties the cave is reopened to the public under the management of a private company. Today the cave is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Lebanon.
Final notes on Salle Beayno.
Final Salle Blanche expedition
Rouge sur blanc, une description des galleries rouges de Jiita
The giants of Jiita Cave, Stalagmites & Columns of Jiita
Collaboration de la rivière souterraine de JIITA et de la perte superficielle du Ouadi Nahr Es Salib (Caza du Keserouane) 1961 - 1971, Al Ouat'Ouat Journal, Volume 3
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