Khevsureti

Khevsureti is a region in the north of GeorgiaCaucasus, which is inhabited since hundreds of years by the people called Khevsurs. The Khevsurs are with no doubt Georgians and they are orthodox christians with a lot of pre-christian archaic traditions in their life and religion. The famous German ethnologist  Gustav Radde  after traveling at Khevsureti in 1876  published  a book "The Khevsurs and their homeland " in which he first collected all available  information about the Khevsurs and their beautiful homeland. 

Historically, the Georgian highlander societies of the Khevsureti, Pshavi, and Tusheti were autonomous from the Georgian kings. These societies were regarded as borderland-dwellers and were not included in the administrative-territorial divisions of feudal Georgia. In these official administrative units, local princes (vassals to the king) governed and the general population lived in serfdom. The situation of the borderland-dwellers was entirely different. These inhabitants of the southern slopes of Caucasian mountain range were under the direct protection of the Georgian kings. They were free of any taxes. The major duties of these societies were protecting Georgia’s northern borders from invasion and participating in the military operations of the Georgian king. In return they had administrative and religious autonomy.

Barisakho, about 100km from Tbilisi, is the largest village of the region, with a population of about 200. At Korsha, 2km past Barisakho, there’s a small but interesting museum of Khevsur life, with amour, weapons, agricultural implements and the art. From Korsha it’s about a 7km walk up to Roshka, a small, muddy village off the main road, on the route towards the Roshka (Chaukhi) Pass.

East of Biso, Gudani village, about 1km up from the road, is a striking group of tower houses on a rock outcrop. Some 8km past Gudani comes the Datvis-Jvari Pass (2876m), from which it’s 18km northeast to Shatili. Shatili’s old town, built between the 7th and 13th centuries, is an agglomeration of tall towers clinging together on a rocky outcrop to form a single fortress-like whole. The old town was abandoned between the 1960s and ’80s, and the new village, of about 20 houses, is just around the hill. But several towers have recently been restored and one contains a museum.

From Shatili the track continues 3km northeast to the border of Chechnya. Before the border you’ll encounter a ‘No Entry’ sign, but you can turn south up the Andaki valley to almost-empty Mutso, about 8km from Shatili. Mutso’s roofless old village on a very steep rock pinnacle across the river is one of the most spectacular in Khevsureti, with large stone tombs in which you can see human skulls. Ardoti is 6km further up the valley beyond Mutso. From Andaki (uninhabited), a similar distance beyond Ardoti, begins the very steep route over the 3431m Atsunta Pass into Tusheti.