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Varagavan Village

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Nor Varagavank Monastery

Varagavan (Arm: Վարագավան), Tavush Marz (476 voters, till 1978 Hakhum village).

Varagavan (formerly Hakhum) is on the hillside of left bank of river Hakhum. It has a medieval Nor Varagavank (aka Nor Varaga Surb Nshan) monastery. The village, which was renamed on January 25, 1978, began to develop rapidly in 1960s.

The distance from Yerevan is 200 km, from Ijevan – 40km. Altitude above sea level is 800. The local climate is mild.

Varagavan borders to Azerbaijan and traces of the conflict are still visible – external threats, low morale of the population, devastated economy, low living standards. All this has left the community out of the focus of possible investors. Yet, the community is industrious and consolidated and is prepared to work hard to turn Varagavan into a modern village with developed agriculture and processing industries, up-to-date services necessary to make the life of the community safe, comforatble and prosperous.


The community comprises 223 households. As of January 1, 2006, the population totals 713 people, of which 380 are men and 351 are women. There are 67 children of pre-school age, 39 children of school age, 383 adults and 142 seniors. 181 are retired, 30 are disabled. 49 households are included in Paros family allowance system. Two persons were killed in action during military operations. The entire population of the community is Armenian.


Most of the working population (282 people) is employed in agriculture. The employment is seasonal and connected with agriculture cycles. Some part of the community are labor migrants. There are 5 commercial kiosks and one gas station, which between them employ 7 people. The only factory in the village employs 56 people (See Annex 2). The municipality, the school, the health post, the kindergarten, the culture centre and the library together employ 38 people.

Establishment of processing facilities would directly or indirectly create additional jobs.


The administrative area of the community is 1, 135 ha, of which 689 ha (approx. 60%) is agricultural land. Of this, 235 ha is arable land, 48 ha is hayfields and 300 ha is pastures. The community owns 450 ha of land, while 608 ha are privately owned.

In 2005 around 60 percent of the arable land was used for grain-crops (140ha), the rest was used to grow cereals (8ha), industrial crops (10ha), potatos (30ha), and vegetable crops (14ha of orchards).

Horticulture is not profitable due to the lack of irrigation, quality seeds and fertilizers, poor condition or lack of agricultural machinery, regular droughts, lack of support mechanisms for the farmers, land fragmentation and other factors. These factors explain substandard horticulture technologies and practices, low yield and high cost. Selling the product is also a problem, owing to the lack of procurement and processing facilities. The community badly needs irrigation, storage and processing facilities, land consolidation, improved roads to reach remote pastures, agricultural machinery advanced land processing practices and low interest rate long-term credits.

Around 100 along river Hakhum are undeveloped because of difficulties in crossing the river, which during certain part of the year is even unfordable.

Animal husbandry is also underdeveloped due to its low-profitablity under the existing circumstanes; the community has a problem with selling the meat, the prices are not stable, there are serious difficulties with workers (shepherds, milkmaids, etc.). Should these problems be solved, animal husbandry can develop rapidly using also the rich remote pastures Establishment of a meat and dairy processing facility could bear high potential, support the developmnet of the animal husbandry,

Non-Agricultural Sector

The sector is limited to 5 kiosks, one gas station and the Tavush food processing factory.

The factory is almost 50 years old, first established in Aygepar village of Berd region in 1940s. It completely looted during the 12-hour siege in the Azerbaijani military operations. The further functioning of the factory was both dangerous and impractical, and the factory was relocated to Varagavan where the capital investment was less risky. The new factory started to function in 1994, and is now the only functioning one in the region, since the Ayrum factory is now idle.

The factory, though relatively well-equipped, is not functioning in its full capacity due to the lack of financial resources, modern food conserving Initiative group meeting equipment, and the limited domestic market. The full functioning, however, would seriously boost the social development of the whole region. The produce includes jam, marmalades, preserves, juices, syrups and various pickles. The majority of the production is exported to Canada, US, France, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Russia. The enterprise is open to cooperation with domestic and foreign partners and is prepared to consider inviting new share-holders.

Potable Water and Irrigation

The community does not have a severe problems of drinking water or irrigation. Drinking water is supplied from natural sources, by gravity flow, for in average six hours daily. The total lenght of the water pipeline is 10 km, of which 5 km are three main pipelines. The internal pipeline was renovated in 2002-2003 with financial support from World Vision, which is now planning to renovate one of the major pipelines. adherence to sanitary and hygienic norms is not sufficient, the pond is not properly chlorinated. Around 80 percent of households have individual water supply. Water supply charges are not levied.

Individual land slots are irrigated, as are 41 percent of the privatized vineyards and 19 percent of arable land. The remaining land has never been irrigated.

Education, Healthcare, Culture, Sport, Religion

The community has a secondary school, with 129 students. The school building is in a good condition. It was renovated in 2005, with government funding. The furniture and equipment are rather old and should be replaced. Gym equipment is especially important the school gym being the only sport center in the community. The school employs 28 persons.

The community has a kindergarten with 25 children. As of January 1, 2006, there were 67 children of pre-school age. The population of the community is increasing. The kindergarten was renovated in 2004 through World Vision funding. In view of the planned agricultural reforms kindergarten has a major role to play to promote employent. The kindergarten now employs 4 persons.

The library premises are in extremely poor condition. The book stock is obsolete and has long not received any new publications

There are no extracurricular education opportunities in the community. There are no clubs and art centers. The culture club (with a movie hall with 300 seats) is in a hazardous condition. The cultural life in the community is generally poor.

40 persons in the community have university degrees, 75 have second ary professional education 228 have a completed secondary education and 131 have incomplete secondary education (See Annex 4).

The community has a health post, which attends to the basic healthcare needs of the population. The conditions of the building, the furniture and equipment, are insufficient. The community is part of the World Vision healthcare project; a mobile diagnostic centre regularly visits the community and provides required medical assistance. The healthpost does not have necessary supplies, and the nurse needs professional training.

The community Nor Varagavank, is in need of repair, inaccessible and is not functioning, which could make the community prone to emigration.


The community has natural gas, which is supplied to 130 households. The average annual gas usage is 140,000 cubic meters.

Garbage removal is not regulated, the members of the community take care of the removal individually.

The community does not have a central sewer. Instead, pits are used.

There are 190 residential houses, which are not sufficient for the population. The problem of the housing is especially serious of young families and affects the number of marriages.

The street lighting is partial, the total length of the wires is 2,000 meters.

The community has no recreation area.

It is not prone to floods or lanslides.

Transport and Communications

The nearest national highway is one kilometer from the village.

The community roads (total length 2 km) are covered with gravel and in need of capital repair. Some roads are hardly passable in winter. Rains also hinder traffic and complicate life in the community.

There are two bus routes, Varagavan-Yerevan and Varagavan-Berd, which charge respectively AMD 2,000 and 500.

The community has 15 cars and 18 trucks.

There is an internal phone network, servicing 150 households. Both analog station and the internal network are in need of repair. The phonelines are of lwo quality and very senstitive to weather. VivaCell mobile phone network is accessible. There is no Internet connection. The post services are regular. The community has access to the 1st and 2nd national TV channels and KHZ.

Local Self Government

Razmik Grigoryan, (38, university degree) has been the head of the local administration since October 10, 2004. Members of the Community Council are:

  1. Arkadi Alaverdyan
  2. Georgy Abrahamyan
  3. Hayk Grigoryan
  4. Kamo Baldryan
  5. Armen Manucharyan

The staff of the local administration includes 3 people. A secretary, an accountant and a treasurer.


Monastery and historic sites

To reach the charmingly sited monastery of Nor Varagavank* =85= (40 57.70n x 045 19.68e), with S. Astvatsatsin church of 1237, Anapat 1198, David Ishkhan tomb/shrine 13th c, enter the village at the cemetery, then follow the main road through the village (when in doubt, always bear left), about 4.5 km through pleasant woods. Built of trimmed creme colored stone with greenish hues, the complex has a few attached churches and chapels which are in various states of collapse and frozen reconstruction. With some very nice, khachkars, the show-stopper is the portal to the main church, with a puzzle of salmon and green stones, each carved with incredible intricacy and each carving unique. The complex is the result of building activities of the owners of Nor Berd- the Kyurikids. The cloister was the center of episcopacy and played an important role in their lives. The religious and cultural figure Hovanes Tuetsi resided at Nor Varagavank during the XIII c. In XIX c the abbot of the cloister was Grigor Manucharyan, who in 1804-1828 together with his volunteer detachment took an active part in freeing Eastern Armenia.

In XII-XIII cc sources the ensemble is called Anapat. The newer name of Nor Varagavank is the evidence of one of the most horrible periods of history of Armenia. Running away from the original Varagavank (near Lake Van, in Anatolia) which was destroyed by the Mongol's invasion, Patriarch Luke, who had a "Surb Nshan" (cross) with him, wandered looking for a new place and finally stopped at Anapat Monastery, which in honor of Varagavank was renamed Nor (new) Varagavank.

Surb Nshan Church, the oldest of the complex is situated on the SE part of the complex. It was built by the son of Vasak I, grandson of Kyurike II - David Bagratuni in 1198. The two-storeyed burial vault joins the northern wall of the church Surb Nshan. The same David built it in 1200 as an ancestral script. The two-storeyed chapel joins the church Surb Nshan from south. It was built in the beginning of XIII c. It is supposed that the top tiers of either building served as side-chapels for the church. A removable ladder was used to access them.

Astvadzadzin Church is the most important building of the complex. According to the inscription and information, given by Kirakos Gandzaketsi, it was built in 1224-1237 by David's son Vasak II, and was illuminated in 1240. The architect was Gazan from Ani. A small vestibule joins the southern wall of the church and adjoins all three buildings of the Anapat complex (the original part of the ensemble). It was built in second quarter of the XIII c. The big vestibule is situated in the western part of the main church. By the northern and partly by the western walls it joins the rocks of the mountain. It was built after the small vestibule in the XIII c. The vestibule has two entries from southern and eastern facades (the latter is a rare example of cult architecture). To the southwest and northwest of the complex two chapels (XIII c) are situated, by which there is an old cemetery. The large khachkar with images of human figures in the big vestibule was created by master Vardan in 1620.

Source: Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook


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