First, i want to clarify that even though we were traveling to Chechnya border – it’s totally safe.
On The Way
So, on the spur of the moment we joined a local group of Georgians and traveled to Khevsureti – one of Georgia’s most remote, unchanged area and inaccessible during the winter. Well, a world of its own.
We left Tbilisi at 7am, with many scenic stops on the way, it took us around 6 hours to reach our destination (150km), passing narrow mountain roads and remote valleys where all you have for living are sheep, cows and perhaps the occasional dog. Through the journey all you can see are dominating landscapes that are punctuated by wild mountain flowers and glacial rivers.
It’s a medieval Georgian monument.
Nekropolis of Anatori
Necropolis of Anatori is on the edge of a cliff, with the river running below and entombed by the Caucasus mountains, set of small, slate stone huts. These are tombs, but of a different kind – the death houses. During the times of plague villagers who became sick were sent away from the towns to die in these rooms. You can see human bones still lie on the ground inside.
Next 13 km down river we went to one of the oldest and largest fortresses in Khevsureti, Mutso. This was the only real settlement in Khevsureti and is also built from the slate bricks you can see throughout all the region. Located on a rocky mountain (1880 m) on the right bank of the Andakistskali River, the village of Mutso comprises four fortified towers and thirty fortified dwellings. The fortified community served as the protective gate to Khevsureti and, according to legend, was never conquered by invading forces. In last few decades Mutso was completely abandoned. It is now home to only one resident, who returned after hearing about the intensive restoration works that have been ongoing there for the past three years.
During our driving through the valley back, we stopped at the village of Shatili, the region’s largest village, that is actually a cluster of fortified flat-roofed stone dwellings and towers built mainly between the 7th and 13th centuries, which functioned both as homes and as a fortress guarding the north-eastern border of the country. In the early 19th century a large force of about 5000 Chechen and Dagestan warriors attacked Shatili, which was defended by only 50 Khevsurs. The Khevsurs were exceptional warriors with traditional Georgian qualities of courage, openness and honesty, fraternity, independence and love of freedom.
In 1953 the Soviet authorities “convinced” all twenty families living in Shatili to move to Tbilisi but in the 1980s some new houses were built a couple hundred yards from the old village and some of the original inhabitants moved back.