Grutas Karmidas: the underwater city of Puebla

The Grutas Karmidas (Karmidas Grottoes) are natural caves located in the municipality of Zapotitlán de Méndez. About 190 kilometers from Puebla’s main square.

They are comprised by a main vault surrounded by five halls: Salón de los Diamantes (Hall of Diamonds), Salón Blanco (White Hall), Laguna Encantada (Enchanted Lagoon), Salón de los Recuerdos (Hall of Memories), and Salón del Silencio (Hall of Silence).

Visitors can admire the great collection of stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, pisolites and aragonites. Due to their erratic shapes, they have been christened with names such as: The Column of Independence, the Owl, the Waterfall, the Organ, the Cauliflower, the Starry Vault, the Ship, the Viking Helmet, the Brilliant Ones, the Pelican, the Hanged Man, the Lathe, the Swan, the Lost City, the Corals and many others.

Another great attraction is the mirror effect of the Enchanted Lagoon, where the limestone formations look like an underwater city.

The main components of these formations are calcium carbonate and mineral salts, which are contained in the filtered water. When a drop stays dangling it leaves residues of these elements and these solidify once they have been exposed to oxygen.

Photo: Wikimedia

Approximately, the average formation time in this grotto is 200 years per cubic centimeter.

The story of its discovery

The Grutas Karmidas are located 80 km from the Zempoala River. They were accidentally discovered by Mr. Miguel Manzano Lobato, who had a liquor factory that used water to maintain production. During the dry season, when the water level dropped, this became a problem.

Once he practically ran out of water, Mr. Manzano decided to search for more by following the course of the stream. He then found the tunnel through which water came out of the interior of the mountain.

As it was a very narrow passage, this became his first obstacle. He managed to widen it and started to advance slowly, until he found a second obstacle. A seven-meter high waterfall. Which he managed to climb and continued to go forward.

On March 19, 1919, he finally discovered the main vault.

In order to have a more accessible entrance to the grotto, Mr. Manzano tried to join two caves. However, his attempt caused him to be trapped for 3 days, until his workers managed to rescue him. He recovered from the accident and continued with his objective. It was until 1923 that he opened the entrance for tourists.

Mr. Miguel Manzano christened the cave with the name of Karmidas, in memory of his son who had died at an early age.