Iskanderkul is a mountain lake of glacial origin in Tajikistan’s Sughd Province. It lies at an altitude of 2195 m on the northern slopes of the Hissar Range in the Fann Mountains. Triangular in shape, it has a surface area of 3.4 km2 and is up to 72 m deep. Claimed to be one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the former Soviet Union, it is a popular tourist destination.
The lake takes its name from Alexander the Great: “Iskander” is the Persian pronunciation of Alexander, and “kul” is lake in Tajik, which is of Turkic origin.
The outflow of the lake is the Iskander Darya, which joins the Yaghnob River to form the Fan Darya, a major left tributary of the Zeravshan River.
Not far from the lake, on the Iskander Darya, there is a big waterfall called “Fann Niagara”. It is located in a narrow canyon, and the altitude of waterfall is 43 meters. It can be reached only from above – just above the waterfall there is an observation point.
A 300 km2 tract of land including the lake and surrounding mountains has been designated a nature reserve. As well as the lake itself, habitats found in the reserve include rivers, water meadows, broad-leaved and juniper forests, mountain shrubland and sub-alpine meadows. Over half of the reserve, comprising 177 km2, has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area because it supports significant numbers of the populations of various bird species, either as residents, or as breeding or passage migrants. These include Himalayan Snowcocks, Saker Falcons, Cinereous Vultures, Yellow-billed Choughs, Hume’s Larks, Sulphur-bellied Warblers, Wallcreepers, White-tailed Rubythroats, White-winged Redstarts, White-winged Snowfinches, Alpine Accentors, Rufous-streaked Accentors, Brown Accentors, Water Pipits, Fire-fronted Serins, Plain Mountain-finches, Crimson-winged Finches, Red-mantled Rosefinches and White-winged Grosbeaks.
The Iskanderkul Lake is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in Tajikistan, which is being visited by the tourists from near and far abroad.