Ughtasar is a unique outdoor museum. It is a place where the traditions, lifestyle and life of old Armenians are revealed. I’ve always wondered what the petroglyphs actually looked like.
A dream that would come true in a few hours. The hotel where I was going to spend the night was called Basen in the name of a province of Erzurum, Eastern Anatolia (Western Armenia). The forefathers of the hotel owners moved from that state to Sisian in 1915 and preserved the name of their homeland by the name of the hotel.
I studied Armenian songs, dances and drank Kelekyush for the first time at the hotel. This dish is known from Urartian times as a part of traditional Vanetsi cuisine. The way which it’s served is a bit like khash. Prepared in a large pot and like khash is served around large tables. I crumbled dried lavash into the bowl and added garlic. Hot choratan, boiled lentils, mountainous greens fried with onion, and ghabourma.
Try it out and you’ll love it. The evening was filled with gastronomic discoveries as halva and baklava were served for dessert. Halva is an old Armenian pastry, made from ground wheat toasted oil, and sugar water. I never thought that with such a simple recipe could yield something so tasty.
To get to Ughtasar you have to wake up early in the morning. We were told that thee the pond was covered in ice all seasons of the year, and the snow in this area never melted. That night we were expecting heavy snowfalls. However, we decided to try fortune and reach Ughtasar.
We were on the way as I thought I would soon see many prehistoric rock paintings dating back 4000-7000 years. In the middle of our journey, the driver said the road to Udtalas was closed. And we were not about to risk our lives so we had to go back.
Of course, we were very sad but for those escorting us our safety was more important and we could not really enter into the Armenian-traditional negotiations. 😀 The Ughtasar discoveries were moved to June when it would be possible to see the stone engravings of black and grey volcanic origin that depicts stories of the life of the deceased and heroic. On the stones, people are depicted hunting, cultivating the land, competing, fighting and dancing. There are numerous animal pictures, wild and pet bison, goats, moufflons, horses and deer.
At that point, I was discouraged and later became filled with even more expectations. In June, besides the petroglyphs, I will be able to enjoy nature in all its beauty. Once again I realized that it was impossible to argue with the weather. On the bright side, I now have a good reason to return. Then I will also talk about the hostess of Basen hotel, Hasmik, who was the most impressive discovery of my entire journey ????
The visit was organized within the framework of the “My Armenia” cultural tourism project financed by USAID and implemented by the Smithsonian Institution.
Translator Alice Ananian