Khevi is a small historical-geographic area in north-eastern Georgia. High in the pristine and wild Caucasus, visitors will discover proud communities and raw, powerful landscapes.
The name of this province, literally meaning "a gorge", comes from the early medieval district of Tzanaria. The people of Khevi are ethnic Georgians called Mokheves.
Khevi has long been of great strategic and military importance due primarily to its proximity to the Darial Pass which connects North Caucasus with Transcaucasia.
Free of typical feudal relations, they lived in a patriarchal community governed by a khevisberi (i.e. "gorge elder") who functioned as a judge, priest and military leader. When the area was placed under the control of the semi-autonomous Duchy of the Aragvi, it was met with fierce resistance by the communities, a story which has become famous in local folklore and classical Georgian literature. The people of Khevi retained their medieval traditions and a unique form of society until, under Soviet rule, many families were forcibly removed to the lowlands.
Geography and climate
Khevi is located in the Kazbegi district of the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. Situated on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, the mountainous landscape of Khevi is dominated by snowy peaks, alpine meadows dotted with rhododendron forests, plunging ravines, thundering waterfalls and soaring above it all, the colossal Mount Kazbek. A popular tourist destination, the area is part of the projected Khevi-Aragvi Biosphere Reserve.
Long winters and short and cool summers are typical to this region and snow permanently covers the mountain peaks.
What to see and do
Travellers are particularly drawn to Khevi for its extraordinarily dramatic alpine landscape and the centuries-old churches, monasteries and fortifications that perch so wonderfully amongst it.
The area's important cultural sites include the Gergeti Trinity Church, a significant altar of the 14th century on the slopes of Mount Kazbek, Garbani Church, the Sno fortress, Sioni Basilica and castle and the ancient Betlemi Monastery Complex, its monks are said to have entered by climbing a long iron chain.
Khevi is home to the Kazbegi National Park, an ideal base for hikers, mountaineers and for those who just appreciate the awe-inspiring views. Don't miss the stunning Dariali Gorge or the Gveleti waterfall. Mount Kazbek is considered one of Georgia's must do climbs suitable for fit climbers and hikers. The park is also rich in wildlife and visitors can be lucky enough to see endangered species such as East-Caucasian aurochs, chamois and mountain eagles.
Often referred to as the Georgian Dolomites, the big shouldered Chaukhi massive is on the border of three regions of Khevi, Khevsureti and Gudamakari. With its many summits over 3300-3700 m and gorgeous alpine meadows, Chaukhi is one of the most popular climbing and trekking areas in Georgia.