Bilbo Baggins: “Yes, yes, and I want to get unlost… as soon as possible!”- J.R.R Tolkien, the Hobbit.
Climbing through the holes of the caves in here, not far from Vardzia, Miss Hoggy had a tingling sensation, much like what Bilbo would have had like when he got lost in Gollum’s cave!
What caves do you speak of then, Miss Hoggy, if it’s not Vardzia? Well, Vardzia is just the more famous sister. Don’t be jealous, other cave cities, because Vardzia needs admission fee, while this cave city, Vanis Kvabebi, need not one. Now, that sounds good to an Asian, anytime. The catch is getting to Vanis Kvabebi requires a little big hike. Hmm… not complaining, as long I don’t have to pay, and quote Bilbo Baggins: I’m going on an adventure!
That was just my hike to Vanis Kvabebi, and my imagination has already overloaded with Tolkien’s references. With this landscape, I did somehow picture myself meeting some delightful magical creatures. Trust me, it isn’t that hard.
Approaching the cave city, the city was a sight to behold. These cities, including Vardzia, were built before and during the height of King Giorgi II’s reign. They were built from carving out the malleable lime stones in the mountain initially as fortification purposes. You know, hiding from enemies trying to slaughter you. Genius, I say. And slowly, these carved out hollow mountain spaces evolved into monasteries in Giorgi II’s daughter, Queen Tamar’s reign. For some odd reason, the fortification and serenity of these cave cities sound like a prime time Gollum real estate, for his Precious. Just saying.
Oh, totally forgot, Vanis Kvabebi is still an existing monastery. Just say hi to the priests lounging about at the foot, and they’ll let you on your merry way. Here lies one of the coolest functioning church I’ve been to, because it’s carved out from the cave. And also one of the oldest, and the ruinest looking one too.
Well, what a ride! And remember my last post about playing Indiana Jones and this post are all in ONE DAY! Too much adventure sometimes can be quite overwhelming. Not complaining.
Next stop, the oldest city in the Republic of Georgia. Notice the word ‘Old’? Yeah, used too many times because it’s true to everything I’ve referred to as ‘Old’. Miss Hoggy will try to find some alternative, but can’t promise much.Facts:
Vardzia is about 2 hours away from Akhaltsikhe. Akhaltsikhe-Vardzia leg would cost you 6 laris. We stayed at Valodia’s, upon recommendation by friends and our marshrutka driver.
A big thank you to dear friend Julie for making this adventure weekend and this blog possible. Without your pictures, this post wouldn’t be the same.