Tbilisi-pastoral days

I was getting saturated with churches , UNESCO heritage sites   after 6 days in Tbilisi and wanted  something different.That was when Teolina suggested  a visit to her  village and we did not have to think twice.So we set out on a 5 hour long trip through  winding roads  with snow clad hills  and valleys to Norio village in Abasaha district ..This village is sparsely populated and  farming is their main occupation.Maize is  the main crop.

We reached  by evening and were warmly welcomed by he parents and grandmother.They have a  2 storey house  and a fairly large plot .Teolina’s mother is Erma and I was surprised to see her watching a Hindi serial dubbed in their language.It seems Hindi serials are quite popular out there.Tina is her 94 yr old grandmother and  she is a  charming  sprightly lady.I did not see her sitting down even for a  moment.It was obvious that Teolina dotes on her parents and granny.She visits them once or twice a month.Erma  is fond of old hindi movies and she sang two lines of that all time popular song ”Mera jhootha hei japani”.It was getting very cold  and Teo’s father  took me to stay near the quaint old bukhari.It was very cosy  and I did not want to leave that spot.

 

 

 

IMG_6072

MAMA ERMA & GRANNY TINA

 

 

 

IMG_6034

WITH KHACHAPURI

Georgians are known for their hospitality and warmth   and we felt  a part of this wonderful family in no time.

We were treated to a sumptuous dinner  which was  like a  mini Supra ((traditional georgian feast) for me.It had  georgian specialities like Gomi-maize porridge which is to be eaten with cheese,Khachapuri-cheese filled bread and corn fritters.All were home made and delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

I got up by 6 and  saw that Granny Tina was already up and having her tea. .I went down with her and she showed me around.It was like  a scene from my village.There is a sprawling plot  with a cowshed ,chicken  coop and corn fields .She let the hens out ,took hay for the cows, went over to her neighbour to get a bottle of honey for us and  made sure that we had breakfast.She  has stayed in the same village for most of her life and is  content and happy.Teo told me that though she looks frail she has a robust constitution.It must be the genes,active  village life and a healthy diet.She is also deeply religious.

IMG_6060

IMG_1719

IMG_7115

I saw a persimmon tree for the first time and seeing my excitement granny    made me taste some   fresh persimmon  and  they were delicious.She also packed   some to take back home.She also wanted me to carry some pumpkins but that I had to decline.

IMG_1715

PERSIMMON

IMG_6059

This idyllic village  stay  was a fitting finale   and soon it was time to say goodbye.

Thank you Granny Tina,Mama Erma,Dad, Teolina,George  and Eraqali for  giving us such unforgettable moments.Tbilisi  was a revelation and I can’t wait to  get back for the summer surprises.

IMG_6084

MADLOBA FRIENDS

 

 

Uplistsikhe-The Lord’s Fortress-A peek into the Iron Age

Uplistsikhe is  one of oldest  urban settlements in Georgia and dates back to the Iron Age.It had been through multiple invasions and also ravages of time and a massive earthquake.What we get to see now are these enormous rock cut structures.According to legends the slaves were given tools made of  gold and metal and they had to toil till the metal wore out.And then they were granted freedom and also the gold .I wish they had a choice !

 

In its heydays this place had about 700 rock structures of which only 150 remain.The oldest inhabitants were pagan worshippers.

We reached the site  at noon and  set out to explore the caves.There is a bit of steep climbing and one has to watch out for the slopes and pits.I went inside the caves expecting to see some distinct features  but most look alike.It is hard to believe that there was once a sprawling city with  temples,houses, hospitals,pharmacy,prison and interconnecting streets.Amazing how they have they carved into the rocks  with primitive tools.

 

IMG_5683

IMG_5685

 

053

There are no drawings or carvings .Just bare walls with empty nooks.

055

056

052

IMG_5682

054

WINE CELLAR

 

 

 

068 (1)

IMG_5679 This is the  10th century church  at the site of the original pagan temple.

I hope  this unique cave complex makes it to the list of UNESCO heritage sites  soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tbilisi-city of cats & dogs

They are seen everywhere.Most of them look well fed  and are friendly.. It is estimated that there are about 50,000 or more stray cats and dogs  and Georgia is not a rabies free country.They need more animal shelters  and vet clinics.

These are some of my feline and canine encounters.

I would find her at the door almost every day.IMG_1708

 

IMG_5755

KNOCK KNOCK

IMG_1707

GAMARJOBA, KITTY

IMG_1706

IMG_5630

IMG_1446

IMG_5662

IMG_5720

IMG_5718

Saw this adorable pup  at an old fort.

PC050026

I hope he finds a home soon.

PC050024

 

Tbilisi-statues and street art

Like churches statues  are a common sight in Tbilisi.There are statues  honouring  saints, kings,poets,philosophers, artists ,statesmen and traditional art forms.Street art/graffiti  also seem very popular.

IMG_5646

St.GEORGE at FREEDOM SQUARE

IMG_1577

KING VAKHTANG GORGASALI

IMG_1693

TAMADA

Tamada is the toast master of the traditional georgian feast known as Supra.

 

IMG_5659

LAMP LIGHTER

IMG_5655

 

IMG_5656

BERIKAOBA (DANCING RING)

IMG_1672

SOFIKO CHIAURELI-actress

IMG_1634

IMG_1677

Have a look at these insightful comments.

 

 

IMG_1507IMG_1667

 

IMG_1699

True that!!

 

IMG_1658

 

 

Narikala Fortress-deja vu once more.

IMG_1574

Narikala Fortress seen from the cable car

Narikala Fort is a prominent landmark in Tbilisi. It was constructed in the  4 century and  was expanded by the Arabs  and Mongols over the centuries.In 1827 an earthquake destroyed parts of the fort  and today we see remnants of what was once a heavily fortified  citadel.

We took the cable car to go up the hill.It costs  1 lari and takes  2 minutes.We could also walk up the hill but I had seen the cable car from our room and wanted to try it.

IMG_1583

From the top you can enjoy a  spectacular panoramic view of the city.I was trying to identify the places and  was delighted to locate our  house.

IMG_5906

IMG_1588

It is a steep climb.You can find vendors with cold drinks and refreshments.  Most of the fortress is in ruins  though some parts look well preserved.

IMG_1617

IMG_1624

Finally we reached ‘HOME’ to see Mother of Georgia   up close and personal.She did look massive and formidable.There is just a narrow strip in front of the statue and I was not adventurous enough to   go across and take  her anterior views.

IMG_1595

IMG_1598

From this statue there are many trails going up the hill  We decided to walk down stopping at many places and taking pictures.One has to watch the steps as there are no railings and it is quite steep.

This fort  offers a beautiful sight at night.

Tbilisi_at_Night

coutresy google images

I had another   deja vu.

PB150255

Mehrangarh fort,Jodhpur

This was taken in 2010  when the fort was  decked up to celebrate the  wedding of the king of Jodhpur.

 

 

 

Cornucopia of memories-The Dry Bridge Flea Market,Tbilisi

Tbilisi has its own share of  shopping malls and  bohemian art galleries.I was not keen on  visiting any .I had heard about the Dry Bridge  flea market  and  our host Teolina took us there.It  felt like we were in another era.This open air market has something for everyone.Antique jewellery,furniture,porcelain,silverware,vintage cameras,coins,sepia tinted family pictures,relics from the soviet era like medals,flags, military uniforms,portraits of Stalin ,Lenin  and bric- a- brac are displayed on the ground  or  wooden stands.Some  have kept their wares on car boots. Most of the sellers were  middle aged.This place  attracts a lot of tourists and even if you are not buying anything it is interesting to take a walk  through the past.

15 - 1

THE DRY BRIDGE

 

15 - 3 (1)

IMG_1559

BRAND NEW SCISSORS !

15 - 2

IMG_5887

 

IMG_1561

15 - 4 (1)

IMG_1557

LORD HANUMAN AMONG THE RELICS-I AM SURE HE DID NOT COME FROM THE SOVIET UNION

IMG_1556

There is a park near by  where    nonprofessional  as well as well known artists display  and sell their paintings.

IMG_1568

IMG_1567

IMG_1569

15 - 3

IMG_1566

I AM HERE

We bought a pair of traditional drinking horns known as Kantsi.I would have liked to spend  more time out there .Kitsch,vintage or antique there is something    about this place   that attracts people.

I still wonder  whose precious companion  this baby doll was.

IMG_1558

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales from Georgia-Heritage Trails-Holy Trinity Cathedral

In Tbilisi many monuments and churches are lit up at night and this offers a glorious sight.From the window  I could spot this  mammoth structure bathed in golden light   and it can be seen from most parts of  Tbilisi.This is the Tsminda Sameba Cathedral-main cathedral of the Georgian Church and third tallest orthodox church in the world (first two are in Russia)  measuring  98 metres.Also the most recent addition to this land of churches .It was  consecrated in 2004.

IMG_1516

 

IMG_1541

ENTRANCE

There are nine chapels within the cathedral.I felt like a lilliput   seeing the towering structure.Once inside it was again calming and serene.I get this feeling  whenever I am in  a church .Quite a contrast from the noisy temples especially the popular ones.I would rather go to a small temple  than spend hours among millions jostling to get inside and get  pushed out in no time.

IMG_1523 (1)

IMG_1520

 

IMG_1528

 

IMG_1544

CHURCH BELL TOWER

There is a nice garden  around the cathedral.

IMG_1551

That night I was again at the window taking in the golden glow.It looked as if the dome was on fire.

IMG_1412

This is one place I want to come back ._DSC0337

 

 

 

Tales from Georgia-Heritage Trails

From the 6th century Jvari monastery we made our way to the 11th century Svetitiskhoveli Cathedral-very  difficult to pronounce and meaning  Life giving pillar.Our airbnb host Teolina and her friends George  and Irakli accompanied us.This is the second largest church in Georgia and is a  symbolic copy of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem .This is also supposed to be the place where Christ’s mantle is kept  .My knowledge of christanity is very limited  and I wish I had done some  research.

 

There is a narrow street leading to the site dotted with souvenir shops,fancy restaurants, vegetable vendors and pretty houses.

IMG_5574

There is a fort  surrounding the church.

IMG_5575

 

 

 

031

029

_DSC0287

_DSC0275

Though it was  a sunday the church  was not crowded.It has impressive frescoes,tombs and icons.The cathedral was the site of coronation  of the Georgian kings and also was their burial site.Only three tombs have been found so far.I could see a few ladies praying in front of the altar .I did not see pews in any of the churches in Georgia.The serene and silent atmosphere was overpowering._DSC0278

IMG_5585IMG_5578

IMG_5580

Teolina  took me aside saying that she has something interesting to show and she asked me to look up at the  external wall.After much squinting I could see a hand with a chisel and that  is supposed to symbolise the unfortunate architect Arsukidze .The story goes like this-a priest who was the teacher and patron of the architect was  so jealous of his success that he influnced the King  to have his right arm chopped off.

IMG_5586

Yet another folklore like Taj Mahal  architects?

 

 

Tales from Georgia-walk through old Tbilisi

 

I was very happy with the location of  our  apartment in the old part of the city.This area has an interesting mix of crumbling old buildings with  high doors,open balconies,courtyards,cobblestone streets ,bakeries and churches. There are churches at almost every corner .One can see smartly dressed  people   setting out for their  daily chores and school children  waiting for their school bus.You may get lost in the  labyrinthine alleyways  but I was not a bit concerned .Mother of Georgia could be seen from everywhere and she guided me .

IMG_1697

This balcony reminded me of the famous balcony scene in Romeo and

Juliet.IMG_5849

 

 

IMG_1450

15 - 2 (3)

15 - 3 (2)

15 - 2

15 - 2 (2)

15 - 2 (1)15 - 1 (2)

 

2015 - 2

2015 - 4 (2)

2015 - 2 (1)

2015 - 1 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

Tales from Georgia

Tbilisi sounds musical and I knew almost nothing about this place other than  it being the capital of Georgia. Digging into the history  I found that Tbilisi is derived from the old Georgian  word Tipli meaning warm.The story goes like this-King of Georgia Vakhtang I Gorgasali went hunting with his falcon  and the falcon caught a pheasant.When  he went to  see the catch he found both the falcon and the pheasant  in a hot spring .Impressed with this discovery  he decided to build a city in that location and  Tbilisi was born.

We booked  an apartment through airbnb and  reached there  at 3 am.Our host and her two friends had come to receive us and soon we  were in her  19 century  apartment in the old part of the city.house

In the courtyard are the ruins of an old church and  on top of the Sololaki hill is this magnificient lady Kartvlis Deda or Mother of Georgia   holding a bowl of wine to welcome the guests and a sword to  ward off enemies.This 20 metre tall statue was made in 1958  and she symbolises the georgian spirit.2015 - 4

IMG_1424

She stands tall and proud overlooking the city.I kept looking up at her in awe and tried to capture her from various angles.

2015 - 5

The apartment was warm and cosy. It has a fireplace which I found  charming.

2015 - 1

 

This was the view from the window.I did not waste any time and set out to explore the city.