The Dariali Gorge, Strabo’s Porta Caucasica, in the north of Georgia was an important crossing point in the Caucasus Mountains for early travellers. The eight-mile long pass runs alongside the River Terek at the foot of a deep ravine that is one of the most stunning pieces of scenery in the Caucasus region.
Sir Robert Ker Porter wrote: ‘I had time sufficient, before our detachment came in, to attempt making a sketch or two of the objects around me… but no pencil can convey, nor pen describe, the grandeur of the scene. At this one tremendous point, the chasm rises from the river’s brink, upwards of a thousand feet. Its sides are broken into clefts and projections, dark and frowning; so high, so close, so overhanging, that even at mid-day the whole is covered with a shadow bordering on twilight’ (Travels, p. 73).
This watercolour evocatively captures the dramatic nature of the gorge, with the swirling torrent of the river, the steep, jagged sides of the gorge and the gloom of the bottom of the valley. The threat of ambush by bandits hiding in the mountain pass prevented Porter from making more sketches.