Spring of Iliko
A short walk down into the valley to the right, and you will find the Spring of Iliko, flowing through the wall. According to legend, when enemies invaded the Dariali Gorge they took control of Queen Tamar’s Castle. This castle was strategically important to the local Mokhevians – when invaders entered the gorge, a fire would be set on the tower, starting a communication chain of fires across the mountains. Yet, despite a hard battle, the Mokhevians could not retake the well-fortified castle.
Since the castle could not be breached by force, the Mokhevians called a group meeting and after a long discussion, decided to return to the castle by stealth. The leaders of the community were sent to negotiate with the invaders and presented a local woman as a peace offering. However, Iliko was actually a beautiful man dressed in women’s clothes and a headscarf. He entered the castle accompanied by gifts of oxen, food, and ten prize warriors. The enemy commander accepted these gifts and held a feast to celebrate with the guests. When the feast was over, the Commander went to the bedroom, where Iliko was waiting. Suddenly Iliko took a sword and cut off the head of the Commander, then he gave a sign to the warriors to open the gates for the Mokhevians, who were hidden, waiting silently around the castle. The plan had worked, and the castle was recaptured. The victorious Mokhevians returned to the valley along with the captured enemies. On the way, they stopped at the spring. Iliko, who had fought with the enemy, washed his bloody hands and face, which gave the spring its name.