If you have ever traveled along the Georgian Military Highway to the Great Caucasus mountains, you would notice a lonely building standing at the edge of Gudauri ski resort. This 19th c Russian neoclassical small construction with its warm colors of tuff marks the start to the Pass, leading towards Kazbegi municipality. From here up to the other side of the mountain-Kobi village-the distance is only 15 km. The highest point on the way is 2395 m above sea level and an obelisk is erected to show the altitude. The name Jvari Pass (in translation Cross Pass), derives from the huge marble cross which used to point this watershed during the Russian Empire. That cross now is a little bit further from here as the road was moved.
Riding the pass and covering this distance is a real challenge. For a second, we can imagine the year 1782, when Ambassadors of Kartl-Kakheti Kingdom traveled from Tbilisi to St. Petersburg to ask Catherin II, Russian Emperor for military support. They used to come this way and it took almost two years to reach the place.
This road once served for caravans and was called as Silk Road, connecting northern Caspian town Astrakhan to Tbilisi and Yerevan. But, after the Russian annexation in 1800, it became the main link connecting three Caucasus countries to Russia. Development of trade and permanently moving troops needed better facilities. The road was renovated, widened and the name Georgian Military Road was granted because of its military purpose.
The small tuff building mentioned above was constructed here, not only for indicating the start of the pass, but it served as a small inn for more than a century. Changing tired horses, giving simple accommodation for travelers, and providing shelter for animals were combined with post office service. So, a travel station network together with the post offices was created. Similar multifunctional buildings were constructed in every 40 km.
Another survived building is at the Georgia-Russian border Larsi near the Dariali Monastery – just these two buildings survived! A short story by Russian writer Aleksander Pushkin "The Stationmaster" chronicles the 19th-century tragic story of a humble stationmaster and his beautiful runaway daughter.
Continue traveling along the asphalted mountainous road. Now it takes about 30 minutes to cover the Pass. Here are series of tunnels constructed as a shelter against the avalanches in the 20th century. In summer drivers prefer beautiful views around and avoid driving inside these dark tunnels, but in winter season it is essential to use them. Road functions all year round.
After 4 km from the former post office in Gudauri, we reach the observation platform constructed by Soviets in 1984 on the top of the birthplace of roaring Aragvi river. The monument was done by architect Gogi Chakhava. The colorful mosaic, on which the famous artist-designer Nodar Malazonia worked, consists of 1217 tiles and depicts happy Georgians and Russians moving together to the bright soviet future. The monument was dedicated to the 200-years anniversary of a Georgievsky Treaty signed by Catherin II and Kartl-Kakheti King Erekle II. This monument was glorifying 1784-1984 anniversary, which now is re-named Peace Monument. It is a great place to stop and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the mountains, waterfall and feel the freshness of alpine air. Paragliding is available if weather permits.
Nowadays the highest point is marked by an Tsarism's time obelisk (19th c). This is the watershed of Aragvi and Tergi river canyons. Behind it, there is a small cemetery of German military prisoners after World War II.
Few more meters and road goes downhill to the other side of a pass. Tergi (Terek) river starts here. Just a few more kilometers on the serpentine and we reach a pinkie mount of travertine springs. Kobi village will appear soon. The pass ends and we are in Kazbegi municipality.
During the spring season, to avoid avalanches, the driving hours are limited. From midday 12:00 until 17:00 Gudauri-Kobi section is closed. We recommend start traveling this day early or just wait until the evening.
Don’t forget to experience Kobi-Gudauri cable car link. Rope way goes over 7.5 km in about 15 minutes and can serve about 2,800 passengers an hour.
To book the private tour, Please, contact travel expert here or follow the links of detailed itineraries listed below:
Day Trip to Khevi Province - Kazbegi
2 Day Tour to Kazbegi
3 Day Kazbegi Trekking
7 Day Climbing Mt. Kazbegi