Georgia’s Katskhi Pillar is one of the world’s most isolated and highest church and monastery


Georgia’s Katskhi Pillar is one of the world’s most isolated and highest church and monastery

The Katskhi Pillar in Georgia is one of the highest and, perhaps, the most isolated church and monastery in the world. It is a natural limestone monolith located at a height of 130 ft; atop this structure is one of the most isolated churches in the world.

It lies 200 km west of Georgia’s capital city Tbilisi, but getting here is no easy task. Only a car or a bus will take you closer and, even then, you would have to break sweat on a trek to reach the pillar.

At the bottom of the pillar is a monastery, with a small chapel on the right-hand side. To the left is a charming 130-foot tall limestone column.

St. Maximus, the Confessor’s tiny 12×15 ft church, has been made at the southeast sector of the pillar.

At the time of excavations, the team unearthed eight large containers called kvevris, which served the purpose of holding the traditional Georgian wine. The presence of these containers along with the construction of a wine cellar proved to the researchers that the former residents of this place engaged in rigorous austerity.

An unusual story of its inhabitant

One of the significant residents of this rock has been Maxime Qavtaradze, a middle-aged monk, who made the abandoned spiritual dwelling his home in 1993.

In a special interview with a photographer in 2013, Qavtaradze took the decision to live at an isolated dwelling for the much-needed change in his life. It all happened after he was released from the jail on drug-related offences, he realised that the ideal way to repent for his offence and contact God was to meditate in a solitary cell on top of the Katskhi Pillar.

It was here that Qavtaradze felt God’s presence, and he loved the unhampered connection with God through his isolated way of living. He climbed the 131 ft ladder to reach this isolated abode. Though he lived in solitude, he would come down to help anyone who visited the monastery at the base seeking his help or to pray with the men living at the bottom of the pillar.

Who can visit this monastery?

This monastery allows entry to only monks from a religious order. It is not a tourist place and certainly not meant for women. Commoners have never been permitted to climb the pillar to enter the church on top. As per the mandates of the Patriarch, who is the Spiritual leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, only the monks have the permission to enter the church at the highest of the pillars.

How to reach?

To reach Katskhi Pillar, there are two routes. The first path is via Tbilisi. Board a bus from the Tbilisi’s Didube bus station to Chiatura; the trip would take around three and a half hours. Buses run every hour between 7 AM to 9 PM every day. On reaching Chiatura, taxis are available to reach the Katskhi Pillar.

The second route is via Batumi. Buses run every hour from Batumi to Kutaisi from 7 AM. It is a two-hour-long trip. On reaching Kutaisi, passengers can take the second bus for a one-hour ride to Chiatura.

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