It seems quite a conundrum to hear that the chain of majestic mountains found in Lalibela Lasta Wereda of the Amhara state have for ages clutched sacred and inaccessible the seals of wise men and artisans in their bosoms.
Following the activities carried out by the Ethiopian Tourism Sustainable Development Project specially in Axum and Lalibela mysterious mountains and caves,which surfed the tide of time proving impregnable to invaders, concealing secrets as well as evading probing eyes,13 churches built in caves are found.
For long, they were indiscernible to the naked eyes and not subject to scrutiny. But now as a result of the destination development work brought to the center stage, such touristic spots are coming to the limelight. Introducing the historic heritages the churches boast of as well as the state of nature they are in, the Culture and Tourism Bureau of the Lasta &Lalibela Wereda is calling for support in a bid to carry out a preservation and restoration works.
During the reign of King Gebre Meskele ,the son of King Kaleb, the three Monks that came had built a church called Eme kina Ledeta Mariam. After a 31 kilometer car ride, one will run into a Keble called Geter Meda (a vast land).Then after climbing an up hill road for two or three hours visitors get the church,built inside a cave. The church built from small rocks, mud and the like in a peculiar way portrays manifold designs. It houses many heritages.
The Eme Kina Medhaniel cave church was built in 532 , during the reign of Atse Gebre Meskele of the Axum , imitating the design of Noah’s ship. According to forefathers, it is built by the three monks after the Eme Kina Ledeta Mariam Church. Inside a huge cave Eme kina Medhaniel is a church well built in such a way that exhibits architectural beauty. Its spot for holy water is found in a darker natural cave, narrow at the mouth and wide inside. Since using hand torches is not that much help in illumining the interior of the cave, using twigs and splinters of woods making torches and adding twigs, when the need arises, visitors return back after observing the cave.
There are sayings circulating by word of mouth about the presence of people who failed to trace their way back and got lost in their desire to check the end of the vast cave. On Megabit 27 an annual festival is held in the church.
Utilizing the conducive situation created by sustainable tourism development project there is a call for making these heritages allurements of tourists. But such a move presupposes visiting, discovering and understanding such places promoting local tourism. As the saying goes “Seeing is believing!” paying homage to these must-sees is a worthwhile venture. The heritages serve students cases of research. They as well allow journalists do introspection into history and explain facts.
To nip things in the bud,before the heritages, subject to the wear and tear of time, suffer dilapidation they deserve restoration work. In this regard, a gigantic task awaits citizens and stakeholders. That is what the heritages speak out loud.
The bottom line is let us visit such tourist attractions,understand history with a sentiment of nationalism and a sense of responsibility. Let us protect ,develop and preserve them and pass them down to posterity.//
Translated From Culture and Tourism Amharic Publication,the original article is written by Zemedkun Abebe.