When you think that there is nothing more among “must see” places to discover in the world, remember there is this village and ancient pagan temple hidden in the deep valleys of Armenia.
This route is located in the border regions of Kotayk and Ararat. In the beginning of the route you will admire with ancient Garni temple in Garni village and after enjoying its magnificent appearance will keep moving toward Gilan village, located 8 km away form Khosrov natural reserve. From Gilan village we will start hiking to the waterfall of Goddess Astghik, where the fresh water flows into the round, natural pool, in which you can also swim. The waterfall of Goddess Astghik is approximately 2 km away from Gillan village and is surrounded by cliffs. The surroundings of a waterfall are fouly, as the sun rays do not reach to it. Waterfall has height of 6-7 meters. During the spring months the water flows are so intense that the swimming is impossible, however, it looks splendid. From here will keep moving toward St. Stephen’s Monastery, which is a place of pilgrimage for Armenians and is located in the slope of the valley.
Garni pagan temple is situated in Kotayk region, on the right bank of Azat river. It was also known as the Temple of the Sun, as it was dedicated to the God of the Sun – Mihr. The architectural style of the temple is Hellenic. It was built on a triangular cape during the reign of King Trdat, 76 in (I C). Garni castle had been destroyed several times over the centuries, but king Trdat has restored it, turning it into a gazebo, Episcopal place, locality. During excavations in Garni in the late Bronze Age tombs, archaeological materials, ceramics and early Armenian and Urartu inscriptions were found which were made by King Argishti. In front of the castle there used to be a residential area, the remainings of which have been hidden with structures of medieval and modern periods. On the hills covering the village from north there is a medieval cemetery with carved stones and inscribed tombstones. Now temple’s majestic architecture and beautiful ornaments attract many tourists and visitors visiting Armenia. The temple is open to everyone in any season. At night it is beautifully decorated with lights.
This reserve is strictly protected by the State. Khosrov Forest (known also as Urts Reserve or Garni Reserve) was founded in the 4th century AD by the Armenian King Khosrov II Kotak and served as a hunting ground. There are now a total of 312 monuments, monasteries, churches, khachkars, fortresses, dwellings in “Khosrov forest” State Reserve. The forest begins in Ararat valley, from Araks river and stretches toward Azat river. Some parts of the forest are included in “Khosrov Forest” State Reserve, which covers about 27,000 hectares and is located 1600-2300 meters above sea level. In 1958 it has got a status of State Reserve to save flora and fauna resources, improvement of the reserve and replenishment of new species. Geghard monastery, Havuts Tar, Kakavaberd, St. Stephen monastery, cave church, medieval bridge and other historical monuments are located in Khosrov reserve. Azat river passes through Khosrov forest and its streams make many magnificent waterfalls. the name of “Khosrov Forest” was given in honor of King Khosrov II Kotak. According to Khorenatsi, during the reign of Khosrov, new trees had been planted in the reserve.
Gilan is located in the village of Garni 8 km away from the reserve. This village has no school, municipality, hospital. Gillan does not have a status of a village, but people are living their regular lives with their families. The inhabitants of this ancient village are hospitable and welcoming. Here they live cultivating lands and planting trees. Gilan has about 20 families.
Sb.Stepanos Monastery (Aghjots monastery)
Aghjots monastery is a medieval Armenian monastery located in Ararat region. It is made up of churches, a vestibule, designed buildings for the monks and cemeteries. The main church of the Monastery was built in the early 13th century. It has a cross layout and four depositors. The nartex was built in the second half of the 13th century and is located west of the main church. Only part of the wall was preserved. St. Stephanos monastery is situated on a hill, in a beautiful place from where beautiful scenes of the natural reserve are sketched.
Khosrov Reserve is very rich in flora and includes 1,800 plant species, making up more than 50% of Armenia’s flora. 146 plant species are registered in the Red Book.
Forest ‘s flora islands, juniper sparse forests and oak forests are common in middle altitudes.
Flowers like chicory, sage, valerian, cornflower, nettle, plantain, snake bryony white, yarrow, which are endowed with medicinal properties can be found in the forest.
In the forests you can meet only wandering species such as wolf, fox, wild badger, hare, various types of mice. Almost 250 species of birds can be found here, which is 70% of the whole Armenian bird species. You can meet black kite, vultures, griffon vulture, eagle, wild pigeon, seagull and more. Some parts of the southern slopes of the mountain range are included in “Khosrov Forest” State Reserve. Sometimes you can pass this route and don’t see any animal here, but the opposite is also possible. You can see several amphibian reptiles who are here because of the summer heat. Fauna representatives are Armenian mouflon (wild sheep) and bezoar goat. There are also leopards, brown bears, wild boar, lynx, marten and others.
There are numerous reptiles, including poisonous viper.
Mobile signals are available only in and around Gilan village. Be aware of snakes, moss-covered waterfall basin stumbling danger, and a high wall collapses on the left side of the waterfall. In case of an accident, there is the 911 service.
Route technical parameters
The best time to pass this route is from April to November
Khosrov Reserve entrance ticket costs 2000 AMD
Bottle of water is strongly recommended to have during hiking period.
As the route passes through forests, for safety reasons it is recommended to take a guide with you.
For all other questions our customer friendly staff is ready to assist you.
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