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Masalli

Masalli (200 km south of Baku) is a reasonably prosperous agricultural town which also has some light industry, capital of the Rayon of the same name. The town's centre is built near the river, with some modest buildings and a nice Palace of Culture. The Palace of Culture wih a statue of Nizami illustrates well the Azeri architecture of the Soviet period. There are no important sights, except maybe the tea tower.

When you leave Masalli towards the west there are dense woods and also a small lake, a favourite spot for picnics. West of Masalli you find a spa area (Masalli Istisu), providing hot mineral baths for a variety of illnesses or simply for your pleasure. The place is rather scenic with a small hot waterfall and a miniature suspension bridge.

Masalli?s Istisu, located in the foothills of the Talish Mountains, offers a different kind of place to relax. Beyond the fronts of the dilapidated shacks which you can rent by the night for a few dollars, and despite the bathhouse which is in desperate need of renovation, a unique place lies here. The Azeri words ?is tisu? simply mean hot water. They claim to have a bath here which will help cure almost any ailment, and doctors are on hand to help choose the best bath, and the best routine. Entrance is free, but there is a small charge for using the baths.

The pools are relatively clean, with separate areas for both men and women. The baths are a bit overcrowded, and the hot temperatures are certainly not appealing in the midst of summer. Nevertheless, local people swear by the healing powers of the natural hot springs that have been used for generations. Beyond the bathhouses is where the adventure begins. A walk past a stinking toilet and outdoor garbage pile eventually leads down a rather steep path. A river runs through the valley, and every opportunity has been taken to try and form this place into a natural aquatic fun park. A few wooden picnic tables and tree stump chairs sit in some shallow waters so even while dining it?s not necessary to leave the water.

The water seems murky, but the green and copper tinges are in fact mineral deposits on the rocks below, and as it is a river, the moving water ensures that it is clean. A deeper pool is aimed at the older boys and teenagers who are up for a more rambunctious play. Walking along the river?s edge, you can see the male bathers merge into female bathers, and then back into males. The highlight of the river is of course near the beginning where a waterfall flows into the running waters. The special thing about this waterfall is that half on the water runs cold, and the other half hot. The spongy sulfur that collects on the rock nearby is very beneficial for the skin, and rubbing it over your face may not feel pleasant, but will result in very smooth and clear skin over the next few days. This is a men?s only area of the river, so women should be careful if they choose to venture this far, as the bather?s tend to become a bit shy yet hospitable in the presence of the opposite sex. There is a cafe located near the widest part of the water with a pool table and volleyball net.

The vendors near the enterance sell snacks and cigarettes as well as a few handicrafts which make nice souvenirs. Nearby, about a fifteen minute drive up the mountain towards Yardimli are two more waterfalls, called surprisingly enough the Yardimli Falls. The first one offers nothing spectacular, but a quick climb up the steps that have been built there leads to a spectacular high waterfall. There is a rickety bridge leading over the water between them which leads to a fresh water spring of drinking water. The restaurant has waterfall view tables as well.

Being located on the main road leading south to Lenkoran and Iran, Masalli is always busy. In the town there is a very basic hotel, but outside Masalli, on the road going west to Yardimli, there is a good hotel, the Dashtvend. Further down the road, near Masalli Istisu there are also turbazas with some decent huts.




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