Pankisi Gorge

Batsara State Nature Reserve

Posted on November 1, 2015. Filed under: Around Georgia, Pankisi Gorge |

The Batsara-Babaneuri Protected Areas consist of 3 independent units: Batsara (3042 ha) and Babaneuri (770 ha) Strict Nature Reserves and Ilto Managed Nature Reserve (5273 ha). All three Protected Areas are located in Akhmeta district of Kakheti region

Batsara State Nature Reserve was first created in 1935. It is located in the Batsara ravine, the right tributary of the Alazani River, in Pankisi gorge. It is 180 km From Tbilisi to Akhmeta through Gurjaani and 130 km through Gombori. The nature reserve is located at an altitude of 700-2,000 meters above sea level. In the middle part of Batsara gorge there are remains of tertiary relict dendroflora, almost 270 ha stands of yew forests. Such size of yew stand cannot be found anywhere in the world.

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An inviolable groove of Utkhovari is observed in the reserve. The terrain takes in beech and mixed woods. There are thousand-year exemplars of Utkhovari. Such a massive groove of it is not discernible in any other place throughout Georgia. The forest is well-guarded, while people consider Utkhovari as a tree of angels. Also, the groove is comprised of hornbeam, elm, lime-tree, maple, ash-tree and others.

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From mammals, the reserve is inhabited by roe, marten, otter, bear, chamois, lynx, wolf, jackal and others.

There are also birds: eagle, blackbird, black-grouse and etc.

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Only educational and scientific tourism is available in the reserve. Movement is allowed on foot and by horse (special pre-defined routes).

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Khadori waterfall

Posted on October 21, 2015. Filed under: Around Georgia, Pankisi Gorge |

Khadori gorge is situated in Pankisi gorge and is well known with its waterfall. In order to reach the waterfall you have to pass nearly all the villages of Pankisi. After the village Birkiani there is a village Dzibakhevi where from Khadori gorge starts.

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The road to Khadori or Makhvali waterfall is not asphalted but cars can reach till the waterfall, though it’s just half an hour walk and it is better to walk and feel the nature with big white stones where the water springs…

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In 2001, Sichuan Electric Power Import & Export Corporation invested $34 million to construct the Khadori Hydro Plant in the Pankisi Gorge. Khadori is the only major hydro power plant to have been built since Georgia’s independence.

Development of tourism infrastructure is very important for the region.

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Torghva Pankeli fortress, Pankisi Gorge

Posted on October 14, 2015. Filed under: Around Georgia, Pankisi Gorge |

Written By Tika Bujiashvili

One of the musts see places of Georgia is Pankisi gorge. The question is what makes the place worth seeing and visiting? It is unspoilt beauty of the nature, scenery, castles, churches, waterfalls and Torghva Pankeli fortress, which is just waiting for you to conquer, though more exciting  is Kist culture and very friendly people you will meet on your way. Your visit to any of them will be treated with very high dignity.

Pankisi Gorge is situated in the very heart of the High Caucasus and is one of the most northern regions of Georgia. Pankisi is an ideal place for nature and trekking lovers.

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One of the sights of the gorge is Torghva Pankeli or Magraani fortress.  It is a medieval fortress in Kakheti region of Georgia located not far from the Village Khalatsani, Pankisi Gorge. Saeristhavo (Administrative division) of Pankisi is mentioned in the sources in the middle years of XI century for the first time. The Fortress was built in a communication wise location and in good view point. It is a part of a signalization system. People from Pankisi used to light fire on top of the buildings to pass on most important messages from fortress to fortress, mainly warning about the enemy approaching the village.
In the historical sources you will find out, that in the 12th and 13th century there used to be a rich duchy called Torghva Pankeli, named after a Georgian aristocrat. The duchy was surrounded with massive walls, fortifications as well as signal and fortified turrets. Within these fortifications the Georgians built many Christian churches, whose ruins are still visible in every corner of Pankisi. Fortress and the majority of the grounds of today’s gorge once belonged to a Georgian duke named Torgva Pankeli. He was descended from Georgian highlanders – Pkhovi, and trusted men of queen’s son and successor- king George Lasha. Together with other dukes he set a conspiracy against Mongolians, which conquered Georgia in first half of XIII century.

The road starts from the village Zemo Khalatsani and it is about 1.30 hours walking until you see the entrance of the fortress. The path goes through the wood with spectacular views of Pankisian villages.

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As you enter the entrance door of the fortress you will find out ruins, there you will see a well as well. Soon the main path will reach a Georgian church situated at the very end of the fortress. Its ruins are still well kept. There are clear traces of windows, doors, altar and old frescoes and. We also say a black inscription on the wall, which is thought, but not for sure to be inscription of Queen Tamar reign period.

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Today there is an estimated plan of the fortress.


1. entrance 2. church 3. castle 4. ruins

Inside the church there is a passage leading to the underground corridors. Directly under the church there is a place of burial. As the local, who accompanied us, said it is easy to lose your way in the underground corridors. It is possible to come back to the front of Torgva Pankeli by underground corridors.

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In conclusion, it is worth visiting Pankisi Gorge to take some rest, get familiar with its history both current and past, be amazed with local customs and culture of the people. You will really explore the place which is a crossing point for Christians and Muslims, for Chechens and Georgians.

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Pankisi Gorge

Posted on October 4, 2015. Filed under: Around Georgia, Pankisi Gorge |

By Tika Bujiashvili

Today’s theme is about the place, that is not really known among tourists. I found it very difficult to write about the region. Yes, it is the Pankisi gorge. You can’t find a word about this place in any of the travel guides, but I think, it is one of the must see places with its unspoilt nature any time of the year, unforgettable hospitality and of course the traditions…

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I decided to give general information about the region at first, then about the sightseeing.

The pankisi gorge is a valley region in Georgia, just south of Georgia’s historic region of Tusheti between Mt. Borbalo and the ruined 17 century fortress of Bakhtrioni.  Administratively, it is included in the Akhmeta municipality of the Kakheti region. An ethnic group living there is called Kists of Chechen roots, who form the majority in the area. There are six Kist villages in Pankisi: Duisi, Dzibakhevi, Jokholo, Khalatsani, Omalo (different from the village of Omalo inTusheti) and Birkiani. The river which runs in the region is the Alazani.


It’s about 3 hours drive from Tbilisi to Pankisi gorge. The first village is Matani, where national hero named Kakutsa Cholokashvili was born.There’s a stronghold, old churches and a palace of Kakutsa Cholokashvili, though Matani, as it is said, isn’t a Kist village. Duisi, which is the biggest village of the region, is a central Kist village. You can find christian church ruins except Duisi. There is an old mosque there and the christian church in Jokholo.

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The Kists are very hospitable and kind people, quite friendly to strangers. We just asked the way to the fortress to one of the 22 years old local, but he became our guide, spent the whole day with us and patiently answered lots of questions given by us sometimes more than twice. He told us about their lifestyle, which is quite different from other parts of Georgian customs. That is maybe what makes the place more exciting for tourists.

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An inseparable element of the Kist hospitality is feasting together, according to the following Georgian saying: “a guest is God’s messenger”. One of the greatest Georgian poets Vazha Pshavela dedicated his epics Aluda Ketelauri and The Host and the Guest to the story of Kist-Khevsur conflict which occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries. Based on religious and cultural difference, both Caucasian nations were engaged in fierce fighting. Vazha-Pshavela celebrates heroism of both nations and underlines the senselessness of their conflict.

The information is scarce. Better visit the place and see and hear everything yourself. As one of the locals said to us, the region had more tourists in the past than today…


photos are taken by Gvantsa Dadalauri

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