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LAKE PÜHAJÄRV

Location: N58° 1` 52.79", E26° 26` 16.8"

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Lake Pühajärv (Holy Lake) with its tortuous shorelines and five islands is the biggest and most beautiful lake in Otepää region. The area of the lake is 2.86 sq. km and it is situated 115 metres above sea level. Despite its size, Lake Pühajärv is not very deep: the average depth is 4.3 metres and the deepest place is 8.5 metres. There are many springs in the lake and the Spring of Love is the most famous of these. The legends speak that this spring has magic powers. If you drink its water from a silver cup on Midsummer Eve, you'll find eternal love. The Väike Emajõgi flows out of the southern part of the lake. The sandy or pebbly shores of the lake are steep rising up to 7.7 metres from the lake surface. There are many species of fish living in the lake: bream, tench, pike, zander, eel. The islands in the lake are called: Sõsarsaared (Sister Islands), Kloostrisaar (Monastery Island), Suur-Lepasaar, Väike-Lepasaar (Big and Small Alder Island). On the northern shore of the lake there is an old park, a beach with the beach house, ball game courts, resting areas, cafésand a pier. A hiking trail is made around the lake. It is 12 km long and it takes around 4 to 5 hours to complete the track. There is a picturesque view to the lake from the Hobustemäe watch tower. His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso blessed the lake in 1991 and this event is commemorated with a wooden sculpture on the lake's shore by the park.  

There are several legends about the origin of Lake Pühajärv. According to one of these Lake Pühajärv has fallen from the skies:“In the old times the inhabitants of Otepää had been very mean and quarrelled all the time. The God finally got angry and decided to give them a lesson. He gave them 3 days to apologize and become better persons. Then awful clouds of thunderstorm rose into the sky. It rumbled and the lightning bolts hit the ground for three days but people didn't care and continued the row. So the Father let the clouds to burst and huge amounts of water started pouring. Water covered all the place and a lake was created. The lake having come from the skies was considered to be holy and the people named it Pühajärv (Holy Lake). The people often took sacrifices to Lake Pühajärv.”