Day 3: Tbilisi-David Gareja cave-city- Sighnaghi (230km )

Today we explore country’s largest and most fertile region-Kakheti(East Georgia). Our first destination in David-Gareja cave city in a semi-desert. Such a  stark, remote, steppe-like environment always attracted different hermits to seek solitude and spiritual peace here.

In the sixth century, a small group of Assyrian monks arrived in Georgia. They split up when they reached Georgia, one of them, David, drawn to the desolation and purity of Kakheti, decided to build a monastery there, high up on a bluff overlooking present-day Azerbaijan. For three centuries, it grew slowly – the few devotees who kept up the site lived very simply in small hollows dug into the rock.

The 9th century  wall paintings are especially important because of where they are and what they have endured – nearly one thousand years of graffiti has taken its toll on some of the images, not to mention the wind and sand. Most of the frescoes lie just a few meters within cave walls, unprotected by doors .The biggest threat, though, came not from exposure, but from Russian artillery fire.

Out of 19 ruins and caves of once glorious monastery first we visit Lavra and  its  seven-storey cave and church of Transfiguration where David was buried, then we take a 3 hrs walk up to Udabno caves and visit those great frescoes etched on the top of the cliff side.(The walk is quite rough and) as well as dramatic views over Azerbaijan.

Later, we reach a small, Late-Medieval period town of Sighnaghi and stay here for one night .Popularly considered the place of romance and love, the town has a well-preserved city-wall, small, twisted streets and offers great views of Alazani valley capped by the Caucasus mountains.

We visit Sighnaghi national museum which displays different Archaeological artifacts as well as the rich collection of Georgia’s best known artist Niko Pirosmani (19th c.)

Overnight in a  hotel in Sighnaghi.

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