In Stavropol Krai in Russia there is a cavern called “Proval”. According to the local scientists the Proval is an extinct crater which is located on the southern slope of Mashuk, on the outskirts of Pyatigorsk. People claim that the emrald green water has miraculous properties. it’s an unusual and mysterious place because of various legends.
Modern scientists believe Proval to be an underground cave formed under the impact of mineral waters. The odorous damp vapors from the lake water gradually eroded the limestone rock. As a result, the cave dome collapsed, forming a funnel and a cave (about 15 meters in diameter) and a lake with turquoise mineral water (11 meters deep). The water color results from high concentrations of sulphur and special bacteria which also give the water a rather unpleasant odor.
Another attraction of Proval are two lions guarding the entrance. These sculptures designed by artist I. F. Shakhovskaya were erected here in the middle of the 20th century. Since that time, tourists have considered it good luck to take a picture with one of the lions. Nowadays, a more popular site with Pyatigorsk tourists is the statue of Ostap Bender, a famous literary character. This statue was presented to the town for its anniversary in 2008. Some people pull Ostap’s nose for good luck, others rub tickets in his hand to attract wealth.
In Lermontov’s times, this famous lake was a part of a different legend. Citizens called it «Hell Hole» and believed it to be the home to a fire-breathing monster that flew over the town at night searching for most beautiful girls in Pyatigorsk. That is why one of the entertainments for resort visitors was «the abyss dance». Only the bravest would dare to dance on the wood planks laid across the hole in the rock.
For a long time Proval was populated by pigeons and bats alone. Only clapping wings and cooing were heard from the cave. Pigeons nested in cavities on the sun-lit northern wall and bats occupied darker areas. These species, which under other circumstances are in conflict, managed to find a peaceful coexistence in Proval cave. At night, bats would fly away to feed and would come back at dawn when flocks of pigeons would leave the cave clapping their wings loudly. For a long time, bats and pigeons managed to keep out of each other’s way.
A horizontal tunnel a little over 40 meters long was made only in the middle of the 20th century. The entrance to the tunnel was decorated in masonry in the style of I. G. Shamidsky, a famous architect, in 1953.
The initial study of the phenomenal mineral lake was performed back in the late 18th century. Before the tunnel was formed people who wanted to improve their health were lowered into the miraculous water through the hole in baskets. Following the mayor’s directions, the Bernadrazzi brothers designed a bridge over the funnel and a mechanism which led the most curious to the blue waterю