Guards of Dariali
There are other legends and tales found in Dariali Gorge. One of the true stories concerns the “Guards of Dariali”.
Georgia declared independence from Russia in 1918, and the Russians responded by sending in armed forces, led by the Georgian commander, General Sasha Gegechkori. When the Russian army reached the Dariali Gateway, Georgian warriors from Khevi met them and blocked their path. A brutal fight began and 30,000 soldiers from the Eleventh Army were killed. Their names can be found in Brother’s Cemetary at the entrance of Vladikavkaz.
But only 3 Georgian lives were lost in the battle: soldiers Kavtarashvili, Tsiklauri, and Topadze. Another fighter, Luka Ghudushauri, was wounded. The sniper, Chopikashvali, shot the commander in the leg, resulting in amputation. Gegechkori was known forever after as the “Wooden-legged General”.
The heroism of the local troops was noticed by a solider from Imereti, who famously stated ”at first be triumphed Mokhevians and then Georgians”. The Russians regrouped, and entered Georgia via Derbeti. Once they had taken the capital, they sent a message to the Mokhevians, informing them that the Russian flag was flying over Tbilisi.
There is a folk verse relating to this history:
,,დარიალაჩი იბრძოდა მარტო მოხევის ჯარიო,
გრუზავიკებით გაჰქონდა ნათოფი რუსის მკვდარიო.’’
As you continue your journey along the gorge, you will pass the River Devdoraki on your right. This river becomes a raging torrent in summer, swollen with the melting ice and snow and spring rains. The force of the river brings down huge rocks from the mountain, visible on the riverbed when winter comes.
As you exit the canyon, a picturesque view opens ahead and you will see construction of a monastery complex dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel. The work has been ongoing since 2005, and will comprise 12 churches made from red stone from the village of Kobi, about 20km from Stepantsminda. Also known as Father’s Monastery, it is a symbol of a Christian state and God’s protection, and greets those who cross the Russian border a kilometre away.
This is also a good vantage point to see Queen Tamar’s Castle, strategically situated on a ridge on the far bank of the River Tergi. This is the same castle mentioned in the legend of Iliko’s Spring. We hope that you liked our stories and now you can explore and enjoy the amazing nature surrounding you.