Adjara | What to see in Tbilisi

Adjara


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The Autonomous Republic Of Adjara

Published by Manoj Pradeep

Hello everyone its been really a long time since I've entered an article here and today I would like to share my thoughts about a beautiful place in Gerogia called as Adjara. It is actually called as the Autonomous Republic Of Adjara located on the south west of Georgia partially on the sores of the famous Black sea. Its southern border coincides with the Turkish-Georgian fronter and extends along the Shavshet range. Meskheti range makes up its border in the north, from the east it is bounded by the Arisani river and from the west it is bounded by the black sea. Adjara is one of the beautiful cities in Georgia with beautiful mountains and sea bordering the country. Meskheti, Arisani and Shavsheti are the prominent mountain ranges that has a strong impression in this region. The highest peak in Adjara s the mount Kanl that reaches an altitude of 3007 metres above sea level located in the Arisani range. There is also a beautiful mountain pass located in Goderdezi at an altitude of 2027metres above sea level.  The Kobulet-Chakvi range divides the entire Adjara into mountain and the coastal regions. The chorokhi valley and Acharistskali valley are also listed under the places of natural and scenic beauty. All the rivers in the Adjara drain into the Black sea except the river Kvabliani that drains into the Caspian sea. River Chorokhi that originates in Turkey flows into the Georgian border and flowing for a considerable distance in Georgia it drains into the Black Sea, one of its branches Acharistskali is the longest river in Adjara. The tributaries as well as the main river is surrounded by massive forests which serves as a home for the unque flora and fauna found in this region. There are also other important rivers such as  Choloki, Chakvistskali, Korolistskali, Machakhela, Chavinstskali, Chirukhitskali, Skhalta etc. Inside the region of Adjara there are three protected areas designed mainly to protect the unique rain forests and coastal wetlands. They also serve as important sites of tourist attraction.

Travelling to Adara is quite simple as travelling to any other part of Georgia from Tbilisi. There are frequent masruthka or mini vans that are frequently available from Vukzali bust station, Orthachala bus station and Didube bus station. Mini vans are there for the important cities like Kobuleti, Gonio and Batumi. Buses and mini van services are available even from other important cities like Kutaisi, Gori, Bakuriani etc. There are trains available from the Tbilisi Central Railway Station located in Vukzali, Tbilisi. Trains are often night trains that take you to Makhinajuri and other important cities in the Adjara region.

Adjara like other parts of Georgia has its history from the very beginning of mankind. The historians say that this region of Georgia has been inhabited by humans since the stone age and some monuments that belong to this perod are found in a resort called as Beshumi located on a mountain. During the bronze age Chorokhi river basin is of great importance as many of the monuments that belong to the bronze age have also been identified during several archeological explorations. The culture and traditions of the people within ths region can be related very well to the Colchi's and their kingdom. As I had mentioned about them in most of my previous article I'm not going into the history about the Colchis in this article. The chronicles of Georgia has mentioned Adjara during the 3rd century BC which was then a part of the Kartli Kingdom. This is considered to be the place where chrstianity was first followed in Georgia. This is the place where an apostle of Jesus, Saint Andrew entered Georgia and started to preach christianity. A fortress called as the Gonio-Apsaros which is located in a city called Gonio was also built during the 1st century AD. This fortress is considered as an important landmark of the Colchis rule and even today archeological excavations are being made in and around the site to find some unknown facts about the fortress and the region. Grave of saint Mathias is found here who is an important desciple of the Christ. It was this man who replaced Judas and it is believed that durng his last years he visited Adjara and when he died he was burried in the same place. From the past architecture, writing, copying, wood and leather processng were high developed in this region. In the 16th century Adjara came under the contro of the Ottoman empire from which it was liberated and re-united to the Guria region. But in the same century it fell back again under the control of the Ottoman empire. Althought the Ottomans really captured the region of Adjara the people were not ready to be under the Ottoman rule, people followed christianity even at that time and they began to rebel until the 18th century tll which Adjara was under the rule of Ottomans. As war started between Russia and Turkey, Adjara was united back with Georgia in the 18th century. Beginning from the 19th century Adjara begun to follow a path of rapid economic development bringing in a lots of changes and gaining a status as a Autonomus Republic under the Soviet Union. Till date Adjara maintains its status as the Autonomus Republic Of Adjara. 

Adjara has its own climate compared with the rest of Georgia. This region has a sub tropical climate were the winters are warm and the summers are hot. This condition is mostly because of the sea that imparts the region of Adjara with a subtropical form of climate. In the beginning of the year Adjara has an average temperature of 9 degree celcius and it gradually increases in the following months reaching a maximum during the summer months of July and August reaching a temperature of 25 degree celcius. The temperature begins to drop gradually after this and during the end of the year the temperature comes back to 11 degree celcius in an average. 

The region of Adjara recieves a good rainfall when compared to other parts of Georgia and therefore it favours the cultivation of many fruits, grapes for wine and tobacco from the early time. Among fruit varities Citrus fruits are the important ones in this region, different citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, Tangerines etc grow well which has a unique aroma and taste. There are beliefs that the warm yellow fruits absorbs the radiance from the sun as well as all the nutrients from the soil and provides an immense energy to the people who consume those. Adjara is one of the main citrus fruit exporter in the country which gives the region a special name as "The wild place of Orange". The mountainous highland and the warm black sea shore is really a feast for the eyes. There are a numerous varities of birds and animals preserved and protected in the forests of Adjara. Birds from different parts of the world migrate to Adjara twice a year which also marks it an important place for bird watching. This region still has the same wildlife which according Georgian chronicles were thought to be found on the Colchis kingdom. In the Kintrishi reserve there are centenarian oaks, beeches, chestnuts,pines, fir trees, box trees etc. There are a number of climbers that wound around these huge trees. This gives a look that the trees are dressed up in green and hence they are gven a Georgian name Chokas which is actually a traditonal wear of Georgian men. Another preserved area in Adjara s found at 300 metres from the black sea coast called as Ispani mossy peat bog. It is a unique marshland where water is lost only through evaporation. A beautiful sight at this place s a lake that is raised above the surface covered with a really thich Sphagnum. This peat moss or the Sphagnum variety is very sensitive to pollution. Another place in Adjara that is well known for its Flora and Fauna is the mount Mtrala, which is not that high having a peak point of 1334 metres. The climated is different as it is always damp over here and the place is always covered with mist. Such a place is really a rare one to see. Colchis plants that exclusively belong here grows well here in this place. Apart from the climate and plants there are a also a numnber of animals such as bears, boars, roe deers and other animals. Even there are some rare forms of fishes such as trout and herring that are found in the river Namtsavistskali that flows down the slopes of this mountain. There are other kinds of some endemic life forms such as drozera, rhampicarpa, water walnut, four leaved marcilea, royal fern, white water lilly, yellow water lilly, bog turtles, Asian tritons, ordinary tritons are found. As sad before this a prominent place of bird migration and the bird species that are found in the mogratory perod includes Eagles, falcons, Kites, wild hens, thrushes etc. Fauna that are found in the Black sea consists of Crampfishm, sea bear, beluga etc. Fishermen often catch fishes such as Mullet, flat fish, anchovis and king mullet. Dolphins that are recognised as Friendly fishes throught out the world is a classic symbol of Dolphins. If you are lucky enough you may see some of them jumping out on the surface. The main kinds of Dolphins found in the region of Adjara include Aphalina and Scaled Shark.

Batumi is the most important city and also the captal of the Autonomus Republic Of Adjara and the world famous Black Sea is situated in the city. I've described about my own experience in Batumi in another article that you can read by visiting my profile. The city of Batumi is located on the south east part of Black sea. The name Batumi comes from Greek "Batius Liman" which means deep gulf. There are lots of things to do in Batumi. The part in Batumi which the locals call as the Old batumi is approximately 150 years old where there is a row of Jezve workshop and an old coffee mill from which comes an aroma that covers the whole district. Coffee forms an important element in people's life, People in large numbers gather together and have black coffee. Fore more information about Batumi visit my profile.

Kobuleti is a city that s located at a distance of 25 kilometres from Batumi, Climate here  is subtropical with no snow during winter and hot summer. Kobuleti beach is one among the best beaches in the Black Sea's shore. The shore is surrounded by beautiful parks and some good resorts which are considered to be good for a number of health related problems.

Gonio-Apsaros fortress is a prominent monument in Adjara that is situated 12km south of Batumi. The fortress has some valuable history to offer its visitors. The fortress is located on the bank of the river Chorokhi. The fortress had a five metre high wall that runs for a length of about 900 metres with towers rising seven metres in height. There were 22 towers in the fortress in the early time but now there are only 18 . There are 4 main towers in the corners as the fortress had 4 entrances in the past however at present only one gate ie, western gate is functional. This fortress had an strategical importance as it blocked the entry into the Chorokhi and Acharistskali gorges. This strategical location made this fortress into a citadeland later the Byzantine of the first Roman empire. This fortress has also some connections with the famous Greek myth of Argonauts. This fortress is considered to be the site where King Ayet burried his son but it was thrown into the sea by Jason. There are a number of archeological layers that dates back to 17th century and some even to 5th century. Saint Mathias one among the twelve apostles of Jesus was burried after death here in this fortress. There is also a museum that exhibits all the collecton of jewels and other things that were obtained during the archeological excavation.

Another important fortress found in Adjara is the Petra fortress which is located in a village called Tsikhisdziri in Kobuleti region. This fortress is considered to be built during the 6th century. According to the history this was a place of settlement of the endemic tribes called Lazes. The place had a unique strategical, military and economically important location and therefore a Roman emperor built a city here. The city built was crossed by the important roads linking Georgia with Iran and Armenia. In the middle period the fortress became inaccessible and it was also called as the Kajeti Fortress. People still believe that from the walls of the fortress their brave ancestors are watching and taking care of them.

Khikhani a medieval fortress is found on the village of Khikhadziri in the Khulo region. History tells that a church for saint George was built over here in the 12th century and during the later years a fortress was built around it. The fortress had a strategic importance as it was inaccessible from three sides and even today the fortress is hard to climb which makes it a really adventurous place. The Khikhani fortress has two main towers and the walls of the fortress are 7 to 8 metres in height. The fortress stood strong and functional till the 20th century retaining its strategical and military importance. The fortress has served its purpose for a period of 700 years. The fortress also has a beautiful atmosphere which gives the tourists a pleasant experience.

The fortress of Khino is located in the village called Khino located near a  river called Kintrishi. This fortress has contributed a lot for the development of Culture in Georgia by serving as an important religious, cultural and educational center. This is the place where the remains of the Episcopal Cathedral are still preserved. Only the remains of the cathedral can be seen now as most of the walls have been destroyed by the Ottomans. The cathedral was set into fire by the Ottomans and now the remains preserved act as a symbol of strength, bravery and spirutuality of the people. Khino was a vast region in the past however now the name is given only to this small village where the fortress and the cathedral are located.

Skhalta is another interesting sight to see in Adjara like Khino. Skhalta is a church that was built during the 13th century which has some valuable relegious possessions. The walls of the church has some antique frescoes fragments that can be seen even today. The prayers offered here in this curch is accompanied by the flowing sound of the river Skhalta that runs near by. There is a bridge that extends over the river Skhalta, its hard to believe that there is a millenium old bridge that seems too old for use but still you may go over the bridge and feel its strength.

Mtsvane Kontskhi also called as the green cape is a beautiful resort in the region of Adjara which is located in the Khelvachauri. It is a narrow sea shore and Meskheti range located at a height of 72 metres above sea at a distance of 9 kilometres from Batumi. It is a fantastic landscape with lots of sub tropical plants endemic for the region. It is famous for the Botanical Garden located here. The resort is said to be good for people suffering from lung diseases.

Makhinajuri is a city type settlement located in Khelvachauri at a distance of 6km north east to Batumi. The climate over here is also sub tropical with warm winters without snow. This resort place is also said to be good for people with cardiovascular diseases, peripheral nervous system disorders and Gynaecological problems.

The polyphonic songs of Adjara region is really melodious to listen. This forms an important part of their folk. The polyphonic songs of Georgia are very antique and they are hard to find in todays world and Adjara is one such place where you can enjoy this lost art. The songs starts with "Ohoi nana", "Acharuli"[Adjara] etc. Georgian folk dances can be experienced here in Adjara which still preserves the ancient customs, standards, grace, elegance, alacrity, modesty which are really important in choreography. Worldwide acknowledged ancient dances like Khorumi and Gandagana are famous in Adjara. Some musical instruments that are three to four thousand years ago are preserved in this region which gives an evidence for the musical knowledge of the people in Adjara. Some important instruments found in Adjara are Chonguri, panduri, drum, flute, red pipe, Chiboni which are widely used during folk festivals. During the invasion of this region in the past people were forced to leave christianity and change their relegion but people of those times strove really hard and they converted the biblical stories into fairy tales and passed it down to their next generations. 

Adjara has some unique gastronomy, the dishes are filled with unique savory aroma. There are some Georgian traditional dishes like Satsivi, mtsvadi, cheese pie, cherry plum sauce, mchadi,homini, Khinkali, Chkmeruli, Pkhali with walnut, bean etc. There are also some special spicy dishes made of fish in the coastal regions of Adjara. Some hotels allows tourists to catch their own fish whicha re then cooked and served to them. Adjara has not only the above mentioned traditional dishes but also some local dishes adequate for the city lifestyle. Milk products makes an important component in the diet of the people. During winter time it is essential to preserve food and one such important milk product in the Adjarian cusine is a cheese that has a peculiar flavour. Other such dishes are achma, borano, chirbuli, sinori etc.

Achma is available in almost all local bakerys in the street and it is a delicious cheese pie which consists of many layers of cheese. Borano which is made from home made fat and cheese has a high calorie value. Sinori is another dish which is made from garlic, curd and home made fat. Adjarian Katchapuri which is different from the Ordinary Khachapuri - the most important food in the life of Georgians is a special dish. It is spindle shaped with cheese and a egg coated with butter. This is often considered as the city's special food and if you get a chance you shouldn't miss it. The finishing touch for you rjourney could be obtained by having a nice cup of Turkish coffee and Baklava a another delecious Turkish sweet or a desert.

There are a number of museums found around the entire region of Adjara. These museums helps you to get acquainted with the Georgian history and all facts that happened in the past. The museums are filled with a wide of variety of materials that have been found during archeological excavation all around the region of Adjara. The oldest items that are exhibited in the museum dates back to the stone age. There are even items that are three hundred thousand to four hundred thousand years old which gives us more information about our past. Batumi archeological museum is a significant one located in the centre of the city. There are antique collection of Greek and Roman vessels, clay and glass materials, old colchis coins, roman coins. Another important museum is the Adjara State Museum which has a large number of unique items numbering upto 180 materials. There are four thousand archeological possessions in the department of archeology, ethnography and history which consists of archeological collections from Gonio and Pichvnari, ethnographic items, rare photos, ancient artworks and manuscripts. There are a number of gold articles unearthed from different sites in Adjara. For example from Gonio 26 items have been unearthed which includes two bracelets, gold pendant, gold statue. 62cm long plated gold chain, gold girdle, golden bowl, buckle, ear-rings etc. 

Therefore Adjara is a lovely place for a vacation especially during winter time when you need a place without snow to have some fun and to get acquainted with nature. The historical monuments also presents us with courage and bravery. Gastronomy of the region allows you to taste the Georgian traditions and their folk dances and music are piece of antiquity. Adjara is a must place to visit.! Until I post my next article thank you, keep smiling and cheers :) 


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