Road to Kakheti 2: Under the Clouds at Shuamta
Back Into the Fog
We were on our way to Tsinandali, an old winery just outside Telavi, in the tourist region of Kakheti and we just traced a winding road that crawled under a low cloud then climbed up to a sunny portion of Gombori Range then went down and entered a low cloud once again. Down in the valley, as we groped our way in the foggy road, we found a blurred sign that said “Shuamta”. For a stranger like me, the sign could have meant anything but our lovely guide-on-the-wheel, Natia, was familiar with the place so we decided to turn and follow the trail that led us further uphill and deeper into the jungle. Unlike the previous road we were in, the trail seemed seldom used and the fog appeared to get thicker as we moved further into the woods.
A Complex of Medieval Churches
There, tucked in the middle of a highland forest, was a complex made up of three churches from different periods – 6th, 7th and 8th centuries.Amidst the deafening silence, the silhouette of trees enveloped in thick fog, and the hazy figures of these very old churches; I had mixed feelings of awe and excitement realizing that I was standing on the very ground that helped establish the foundations of the strong piousness of the Georgian people. We were allowed to enter one of the churches but I was not allowed to take photos. Outside the main church, I can barely figure out the shape of the second church, and I was told that the third one was located deeper into the jungle.
I had a chance to do a short moment of reflection while my companions explored the area and, after a while, it was time to hit the road once again.