Davit Gareja, founded in the 6th century, is a remote monastery complex on the Azerbaijan border in far eastern Georgia. While there are numerous monasteries in the arid hills only Lavra is currently accessible to visitors. Udabno, famed for its painted caves, was not accessible at the time of writing in July 2022 because of the border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Lavra is a working monastery, as such much of it is off limits to visitors. Still, visitors are able to view the church, surrounding grounds and see some of the cave dwellings from a distance. There is also a path that winds up the back side of the monastery, marked Udabno, that takes you to a cave above the complex for a birds eye view. The cave at the top is not particularly interesting but the views are worth the climb. There was a border guard near the cave that prevented visitors from going any further.
Davit Gareja is about an hour and half from Tbilisi and 2 and half hours from Telavi. We drove from Televi and then back to Tbilisi. The two lane roads are paved and in good condition and there generally wasn’t too much traffic, albeit some trucks in spots. It’s an interesting drive as you leave populated areas and reach the arid rolling hills near the monastery. Although there is a town, Udabno, near the complex much of the landscape is empty grasslands.
July 8, 2022