Georgia, an erstwhile province of Soviet Russia, is one of the tourist attractions in Europe. It is a small but beautiful country of around 4 million people and a scenic attraction for a tourist who looks for an outing that will be easy on the purse. The capital city, Tbilisi, is set on the bank of Kura River, an eastward flowing river that connects the old city with the new district. The river is wide by only less than a kilometer, and that makes the riverine beauty more eye-catching from either side of the city. Georgia is in Eurasia and at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, hence, historically witnessed numerous power struggles by the global powers, And Tbilisi was the seat of such contentions. The city’s architectures — from medieval to modern era — are of priceless tourist value.
In Tbilisi, the most attractive tourist spot is the ‘Narikala Fortress,’ a 4th-century fort built as a defense of the city. There is a cable car running from the new district of the city, over the river, to the fortress, and a trip through the cable gives a bird’s-eye view of the city. At the fortress, there is a castle, a church and a big statue of a woman. The name of the statue is ‘Kartlis Deda,’ meaning ‘Mother of Georgia,’ and it was erected in 1958. When I visited the fortress, I was fortunate to witness the baptism of a child at the church. One the way back, do not take the cable car but walk downhill, for you can sense and feel the beauty of the city better than what you had witnessed from the cable car. There are a few bridges connecting the two sides of the city, and amongst them, the ‘Bridge of Peace’ is an exclusive footbridge built with steel and glass in 2010. It has got lot of illuminating LED lights, and the bridge is a sparkling marvel at night. If you are a boating enthusiast, take a boat ride at night on the Kura River. With all the lights on at the Peace Bridge; cable car running overhead; and with closer-lit river-banks on either side, you will enjoy the cruise to the fullest.
There are tuk-tuks to take you around the city, or you can take a walk in the city which is peaceful and safe. You will see a lot of roadside fruit vendors selling fresh fruits. They are tasty as I had tried a few items. Tbilisi is a small city with many places to exchange currencies. You can find many eateries selling local food, Indian cuisines, etc. Georgia is a country to where many people, especially Indians, come with a false hope of entry into European Union. There are agents who charge hefty sums to bring people to Georgia by saying that Georgia will soon join European Union so that they can be in EU by being in Georgia. Many unsuspecting people fall victim to these unscrupulous agents and end up in Georgia, doing menial work. I met a few Indians who landed here with EU hope.
The pictures of the fortress and the city that I clicked are there in the following link:
The beauty of Georgia lies in its mountains, so you need to go uphill once you are in Tbilisi. Going uphill is not an uphill task as there are many tour agents who arrange 1-day, 2-day trips to mountainous towns. I made a 1-day trip to Kazbegi, a hilltop town 160 km north off Tbilisi, with the Russian border hardly 10 km away. Kazbegi is a panoramic place that set itself 1990 meters above the Mean Sea Level and surrounded by beautiful mountains which are famous attractions for skiing enthusiasts. And tourists to this place wrap up their visits by driving up to a mountain top where an old church is situated. I could not go to this church because it was raining, and the tour-guide advised against going to the top due to possible landslides.
The way to Kazbegi is a 1.9 km uphill journey of beauty and wonder. You will be amazed at the virgin beauty of the nature at its best! As we climbed, our first stop was at the Zhinvali Water Reservoir, the lifeline of Tbilisi city as it single-handedly quenches the thirst of the 1.50 million residents of Tbilisi. I was impressed by its natural beauty — calm, clear water-mass overlooked by green-clad mountains. Further drive the way up, there is a 13th century historical place: the Ananuri castle. It was the seat of a local dynasty, and this fortress has the remnants: cave-to-a-riverside path for women and children to escape in case of an enemy attack; military meeting rooms; smoke tower which indicated to public — in those times — with white or black smoke if those crossing into the town were friends or foes respectively; and a church.
Further up, there is one place where the White Aragvi river meets the Black Aragvi river; they confluence without mixing and course away from each other after a few kilometer downstream. The river was starved, enabling us to go down to the basin to touch and feel the water. Traveling uphill from here, there is the Russia-Georgia Friendship Monument, a hemispherical concrete structure overlooking a valley in the backdrop of Caucasian mountains. And the structure has beautiful murals. When we went out of the bus, it was cold, not freezing cold, but suddenly there was a drizzle and wind with temperature going below zero degree – it was piercing cold, and my hands started to pain.
On our way back from Kazbergi to Tbilisi, we saw the Mountain of Natural Mineral Water. Mineral water keeps flowing out from the mountain day in and day out, and people drink this water directly without the need of any artificial purification. It flows down to the roads, and tourists halt here to click and taste the water, so did we. The water is orange in color and does taste a bit metallic. This natural mineral water is bottled and sold by a few companies, and in Europe, Georgian natural mineral water fetches a premium price. A pictorial tour of the trip is given in the following link:
The dawn-to-dusk outing gave a lot of beautiful memories to take away from Georgia 🙂