This was the best Easter I could ever have!!
It was still drizzling early in the morning, but that couldn’t get on our way to start the trip. Our group consisted of about 50 students from different universities. Having taken part in the previous trips many students were familiar to me, among them my 3 coursemates and my professor-friend. Our direction was Khor-Virap-Areni-Noravanq, Syunik region.I guess almost everyone has visited Khor Virab, the church which is located on the border of
Turkey and from the hill you can see the Mother river Araks. Whenever a foreigner comes to
Armenia the first historical sight to show him is whether Garni-Geghard or Khor Virab.
According to the legend Gregory the Enlightener spent 13 years in the dungeon full of snakes and scorpions. The Armenian king Trdat The Great ordered to set him free and Gregory took to spreading Christianity throughout
Armenia where it was first adopted. Later a monastery was built on that place and acquired the name Khor Virab which means “deep dungeon”.
I have been to Khor Virab for many times , so I didn't have that “wow” expression on seeing it. Instead, I uttered that “wow” for several times – in bed and good meanings of it. Again and again I get frustrated at the view of still going on vandalism and violations of ancient historical values. I always wonder what pleasure is it to carve names on the church walls, other monuments or statues? What does it give them? Spiritual satisfaction? When will that stupefied brains, be those of a child or of an adult, stop damaging values not belonging to them but to the history? Then why to blame the others, who are strangers, in violations that we are not able to nip in our own society? Yet, this is a unique way of expressing their love… When I was in the dungeon where а woman was thrown for giving bread to Gregory, some pupils came down. One of the boys was smoking, so I asked him to put it out, because there was not enough air to breath. He didn’t stay against, then he asked his classmates what place it was. They all shrugged their shoulders. I got shocked that they were unaware of the place they had visited, probably that was also their teachers guilt, but anyway, for their doing me a favor and putting out the cigarette I took on the responsibility to tell them the story. This was another “wow”. Next one was then when on the way to our bus, I heard a wonderful phones of Armenian Sharakans coming from a group of foreigners. Obviously that was a choir. Later on I inquired and found out that they were from
Lexington High school, Massachusetts, USA, and only some 3-4 members were Armenians by their background. The music they sang was so pure, so nice that I would never suggest that foreigners could ever sing Armenian sharakans this way. I think every Armenian must know at least one sharakan, but I really doubt greatly, having the example of those pupils who didn’t know even who Grigor Lusavorich was, how could they know what sharakan is? However, several times I thanked the conductor of the choir for the good job and the love toward Armenian music that he had put in his students.
Our bus moved on to Areni. On the way we called at Armenian writer Paruyr Sevak's summer house. He is my favorite writer and that was an honor for me to see the garden and the house he built by himself. It was a wonderful place with apple trees, narcissus, tulips and many little cockle-shells.
Areni is famous for its vineyards and dry or half dry vines. As far as it was Easter day everyone bought several liters of vine for the road and for home.
Then began the most interesting part of our trip, at least for me as my greatest aim for that day was to see Noravanq, which I was told about so many times. With my mouth open I was looking to the right and to the left as the bus pass was passing through the rugged rocks erected on both parts of the road. It seemed as if the cliffs had just been separated and the red color of them resembled blood and their sorrow. Sometimes some caves which were struck into the rocks were noticeable, and it felt like a human being, all wild, with bow and spear would come out of them. Then a wonderful view appeared to our vision-Noravanq surrounded with mountains and rocks from all the sides, as if saying that it is the only owner of that beauty.
Noravanq sometimes is called “The Jewel of Vayots Dzor” . The first church of monastery was built in the 4 th and 5 th centuries. It was rebuilt in 14 th and 15 th cc. It is made of 2 separate temples. One of them has two floors. The stone-made stairs go up and down above the entrance to the ground floor. It is believed that if you think of a wish and go up and down the narrow stairs without holding from the walls, your wish will come true. I guess I must try other means to make my wish come true, as I failed doing this one, having a big knapsack on my back. But the acoustics of the upper temple was so amazing that when everyone went away I just couldn't resist singing a sharakan, also being inspired by the choir of foreigners. As our trip was near to its end, we chose a place in the nature, laid a “table” on the wet grass, with variety of Easter meals and started fighting with our Easter eggs. All this was accompanied with traditional Easter toasts and singing. In Armenia we say “It’s better to see once than to listen hundred times”. So, if you haven't been to these places yet, now it’s your turn to make such a trip. I wish you enjoy it as much as I did enjoy!! 😉