In an effort to highlight places of interest in countries across the world, their varied culture, economy and history, The Statesman brings to you a Weekly Focus on countries with which India shares diplomatic ties and friendship. This week’s focus is on Georgia.
Know all about the country.
Capital: Tbilisi, Currency: Georgian lari, Ethnic groups: Georgian 86.8%, Azeri 6.3%, Armenian 4.5%, other 2.3% (includes Russian, Ossetian, Yazidi, Ukrainian, Kist, Greek) (2014 est.), Languages: Georgian (official) 87.6%, Azeri 6.2%, Armenian 3.9%, Russian 1.2%, other 1% note: Abkhaz is the official language in Abkhazia (2014 est.),
Religion: Orthodox (official) 83.4%, Muslim 10.7%, Armenian Apostolic 2.9%, other 1.2% (includes Catholic, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidi, Protestant, Jewish), none 0.5%, unspecified/no answer 1.2% (2014 est.)
Climate: Georgia has hot summers and mild winters, particularly in the southwest. Low temperatures are common in alpine areas. The heaviest rainfall is in the subtropical southwest. The best time to visit Georgia is in early-summer (May and June) and early-autumn (September), when temperatures are mild without the humidity and heat associated with July and August.
Secular Celebrations: The most widely observed holiday still is the New Year. Among national holidays, Independence Day is the most respected, and people like to attend even newly invented festivities such as Tbilisoba in October, a holiday invented by the Communist authorities.
Food: According to Georgian legend, when God was distributing land among the peoples of the world, the Georgians were so busy eating and drinking that they lost their place in the queue and there was no land left for them. But when they invited God to join the party, he enjoyed himself so immensely he gave them all the choicest bits of land he had been saving for himself. Georgians pride themselves, with some justification, on being the bons viveurs of the former Soviet Union, and their culinary tradition has survived better than most the dead hand of Soviet mass-catering. The cuisine makes extensive use of walnuts, which are used to thicken soups and sauces.
Some specialities include Lobio (bean and walnut salad), marinated aubergines, Khachapuri, Basturma (cured meat and assorted fresh and pickled vegetables). Some regional drinks include Kindzmareuli (a fruity, red wine, reputed to have been Stalin’s favourite tipple), Akhasheni and Teliani (two of the commoner red wines, fruity and dry respectively) and Tsinandali (dry white wine, as is Gurdzhaani).
VISA AND CONNECTIVITY
Visa: Persons can obtain Georgian visas by submitting documents through eapplication system (for any category of visa) or e-Visa Portal(for short stay visa). Documents required are: Passport (with a validity of at least 3 months after the expiry of the Visa), Photocopy(bio-data pages of the passport and all the used pages), visa application form, two photographs, confirmed onward/ return air ticket, bank statement of last 6 months and a copy of Income Tax returns, onward visa, confirmed hotel reservation receipt, certifying payment for consideration of visa issuance, travel Insurance valid in Georgia and a covering Letter from the applicant explaining the purpose of visit. Georgia E Visa can be availed for tourism and business purpose for a stay up to 30 days (single entry).-
Flights: From India, top domestic and international airlines that operate connecting flights to Georgia are Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, Jet Airways, Aeroflot, Etihad Airways, Emirates, etc. There are no direct flights from India to Georgia. From India to Georgia, the flights lay over at Dubai, Muscat, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, and many other cities.
Narikala Fortress: The Narikala Fortress is quite possibly the first major tourist attraction that comes to mind for anyone deciding on a trip to Georgia. Located in the heart of its Capital, Tiblisi, this massive fortress dates back to the 4th century when it was built by the Persians. What makes this an ultimate tourist attraction is the fact that it overlooks the entire city of Tiblisi providing a breathtaking view.
Mount Kazbek: Being a part of the Caucasus Mountain range, Mount Kazbek stands tall among others and offers a great view of the countryside that so many dream of seeing.
Tiblisi: The Capital of Georgia, this jewel of a city is sprawling with history, tradition, architecture and culture. The beauty of what Tiblisi manages to display is a great blend of tradition within its modern architecture. Whether it’s the architecture, brimming streets, ancient fortresses, gothic cathedrals, Tiblisi is not short of tourist attractions and things to do. Other tourist destinations: are Mtskheta (UNESCO World Heritage site), Uplistsikhe (excellent for those looking to explore off the beaten path craving a little sense of adventure), Batumi (Batumi is Georgia’s answer to the perfect holiday by the seaside) and Gergeti Trinity Church.