When you arrive at the Çemlik district of Diyarbakır, a mountain welcomes you with all its glory, stretching from the ground to the skies. At first glance, the mountain looks like there are people standing on it, stone-like creatures, watching you. However, when you take a second look, you understand that the stones are nothing more than rock formations but once the mountain gets hold of you with its magnificence, you cannot shake the feeling that there are actually eyes watching you as you climb. Located 4 kilometers from the district center, the Gelincik Mountain is 1,500 meters high. The region is famous for its rock formations, which are similar to those in Cappadocia.
The legend of the rocks
The rock formations on the mountain has led to many stories and fables, each of them as terrifying as the one before. According to the common legend, a wedding procession was coming through the mountains. While the procession reached the foothills of the mountain, one of the babies dirtied his nappy and his mother could not find anything to clean her baby. All she could do was to clean the baby's nappies with a piece of bread and right at that moment the god cursed them and turned the entire procession to stone as they had meddled with bread, the most important food for mankind.
Although the legend still gives locals the chills, the natural beauty and the divine, picturesque surrounding of the mountain is a draw for amateur and professional photographers who are looking for a visual feast.
Diyarbakır Photography Foundation, Photono21 organizes photo tours in the mountain. Photono21 President Mehmet Kılıçoğlu said that the region is mostly untouched and the mountain is a perfect location for photographers to capture nature at its best.
He said their aim is to photograph Çermik's natural beauties and promote the district. "This is a perfect geography similar to Cappadocia. It has some serious touristic potential. Those who deal with nature sports, photography clubs and travelers visit it. Photographers take photos. With safety ensured in the region, we can securely come here."
Kılıçoğlu added that there is no problem on the roads of the district, and it is an ideal place for those who want to go trekking or camping. "It is really nice to take photos during the sunset here. It has a proper surrounding for gas balloons and zeppelins. The air here is very clean."
One of the visiting photographers, Elif Ceylan said that she has been involved in photography for over a year and she has photographed the historical and cultural site of the city. She added that the Gelincik Mountain offers a perfect and authentic view.
Ceylan said that the area should be expanded and introduced to tourism. "I do not think this place is different from Cappadocia. This is why we take photos here. We really like it here," she said.
Another local visitor, Veysi Arcagök, a teacher by profession, said that he take photos in order to promote Diyarbakır's historical and touristic locations. "There are many places in Diyarbakır that even we do not know of. We want to discover and introduce these places. The more we introduce this place to our friends, the more it will draw attention. What is important is to attract attention and sustain the beauty of our city."
Local government on a mission
The Municipality of Çermik wants to introduce Gelincik Mountain to tourism as well. District President Şehmus Karamehmetoğlu told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the mountain, which often reminds people of Cappadocia, hosts legends such as the story of the wedding procession mentioned above. He also noted that the mountain was like a perfect vision of the past in the present. He said that the local administration wants to introduce Gelincik Mountain to tourism and is working to that end. "We have prepared a project to promote this place. We are working on building a cable car in the mountain so people can easily climb it and enjoy the view. It will also contribute to the economy of the district. We want to introduce the mountain to not only Turkey but also to the world."
"The district is now popular with its hot springs but once these projects are completed, the mountain will come to the forefront," said Karamehmetoğlu.
He added that Çermik is a district of history, culture and civilization, and this is why they are really making an effort to promote it. "I call on everyone to come and see Gelincik Mountain when you visit Diyarbakır."