• Written By Tinatin Bujiashvili

“The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.”
Samuel Johnson

A tour to Sarke of St. George Monastery. It was April, Palm Sunday, a week before Easter Day. A tour was planned to Khintsvisi. They were going to attend the liturgy, receive the Eucharist and then they were going to go on their way to Sarke monastery…

Khintsvisi Cathedral (12th-13th century) is located on a picturesque mountain slope of Kartli region. The domed cross-planed church of St Nikolas is adorned with remarkable mural paintings portraying King Giorgi II, Queen Tamar and her son Lasha-Giorgi. Among them especially impressive is “the archangel of Khintsvisi.”

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I accepted the invitation and next morning I joined the group. We set off early morning next day to attend the liturgy and receive the Eucharist. There were twenty of us in our group. I had met some of them before so everything started wonderfully.

On the way we bought some food and vodka.

When we reached Khintsvisi the liturgy had already finished. So we said some prayers, lit candles, took some photos and continued to walk to Sarke monastery.

The monastery of St. George of Sarke is located about 3 km from Khintsvisi, in the middle of the forest. According to the legend three monks came to this place, built a church of St. George, and found a monastery. Many miracles are associated with the monastery. It is now a monastery of fathers. According to the legend in the village of Sagholasheni there was a field where a pheasant didn’t plough and even didn’t let cattle go inside. The field was marked with tillage. One day a tired ploughman fell asleep and had a dream, but said to nobody. He was waiting for the sign of the God. When he went on working the ox didn’t move. In the earth an icon of St. George was found. The icon was placed on the oxen and on the place where the oxen stopped a church would be built…

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Although the monk had informed us about the difficulties of the route, we wanted to visit Sarke monastery so much, that bravely went on our way. On the way we were told much about the monastery. The Monastery of Sarke was founded in the 4th century. Later it was ruined and robbed several times. Once during a robbery a miracle happened, the robbers stiffened and could move only after they began to pray and ask for absolution to St.George. The icon of St. George was stolen by someone who faced many misfortunes so gave the icon back to the monastery.

The one, who likes walking will easily understands me how beautiful it is walking through the forest, breath fresh air…the road leading to the monastery is hardly detectable at first, while soon it grows into beautiful landscape with multiple colors, resembling heaven on earth…The earth covering with violets and snowdrops looked like a carpet…

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Suddenly we noticed snow. We were so exciting that started playing snowball. The spring sun was shining up in the sky and on the earth in the forest snow was reigning…

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The first excitement of seeing snow soon disappeared as we found out that we had to walk in the snow. It was really hard.

It was 5 o’clock and we hadn’t reached our destination yet.

It started getting dark…

It became more unpleasant when we found out we didn’t know where to go. Snow was around us. Two or three members were in panic. They were afraid of staying in the forest the whole night. However we had a little girl of 11, “Tsitsila” (a Chick), as her mother called her, who bravely watched the fussiness around her. She was afraid of neither wolves nor staying overnight in the forest.

Fortunately there were two brave men in our group. So they went to different direction to see the Monastery. We followed them, though we had to cross the stream. Some of us used a “bridge” a tree put over the stream. Gia jumped in a cold stream and helped women to go on the other side dry and safely…

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Everything ends happily in every story and in ours too. It was six when we saw the church and really felt happiness. Evening bells started ringing. When we entered the monastery evening prayers were reading…

The monk gave us candles and icons of St. George and blessed our way back to Tbilisi…

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We had to walk about 5 km back to Khintsvisi. Fortunately the girls in our group, who were afraid of wolves, had called to their friends and a lorry, which was used to transfer wood, was waiting for us…It was another exciting adventure…

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The journey had a happy end. We spoke much about the tour then and later…everybody admits that it was the most remembering tour they had ever had….

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”
Samuel Jonson

Some photos are taken by Avto Khantadze

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