In 1985, a 44 year old man named Lyova Arkelyan said that he was visited by a phantom who gave him visions of a temple that he was to build with exact measurements. At this time, her wife Tosya Gharibyan requested him to dig a potato storehouse at the basement of their house; this was a small task that soon became the adventure of his lifetime. Arakelyan used to be in the construction field by day and he had the skills and tools for digging. He started out digging down the soil that was on the surface, it is up until the time he got to the rock which the village regarded as impenetrable, that things got interesting. The parent rock was so hard, any normal man would have given up at this point, but not Arakelyan. During that time, he said exclaimed on the hardness of the trock each time he was trying to dig through. He would dig for throughout the day and a small hole that was abot 20 cm in size and 7 cm deep was all he could manage to dig. “How would he have dug past that?” one would ask, but Arakelyan said that he got unnatural strength from spirits in order to penetrate the rock without thinking too much.
This continued for 10 straight years until he got to the tufa layer that became much easier to get through using his tools. One can imagine that Arakelyan had many tools to realize this vision, but it was all by the use of a five kilogram hammer and a cutter. As he continued to cut and dig, he went further to make carvings and sculptures out of stone that were used as decorations in this tourist attraction. He made sculptures that represented the Armenian capital, a Greek column to name a few that rest beside the staircase. He placed lamps also on the walls to light the path as visitors walked inside the cave and he placed candle holders that were carved in the walls.
Arakelyan saw everything in detail in his dreams and translated it to reality to the exact measurement that he saw in his visions. After two decades, he managed to create a masterpiece that was 21 meters deep covering 300 square meters. The 6 rooms that are connected by narrow stairs were just the beginning as he was continuously getting visions. He was ready for 3 more decades to dig other 74 rooms that were to be decorated differently, that is how far his visions stretched.
Over the 2 decades, he managed to dig up 450 truck loads of sand and stone, used more that 20 sets of both hammers and cutters, countless pairs of shoes and different sets of clothes his wife preserved in order to showcase to tourists when the time came. Tosya’s plan was for people to appreciate the journey of the master sculptor who made it all happen.
A visit to this museum is an experience that captivates tourists from the onset. Visitors are welcomed by a figure painting on the wall of Master Levron holding a hummer and a chisel on one side with another portrait of his wife holding a potato. The door of the museum is made of a big steel door. Once its open , a descending set of 80 stairs leads you to the underworld caves of miracles. The first room that receives visitors is the oratory that is decorated with candles and sculptors. It is said that in this room, people should enter one by one and make a wish before lighting a candle, since Arakelyan used to say that wishes come true once they are mentioned in this cave.
In 2008, master Arakelyan passed away while he was in his plans to deliver the 74 rooms. Currently, Tosya runs the museum that is open to the public as she takes tourists through the miraculous establishment her late husband created. She has set up a room in the cave where she displays artifacts, pictures and items that Levon used over the decades to showcase the journey that brought about the cave. Tosya also takes people round the house to show them the mosaic portrait that Arakelyan embedded on the walls around their home.
The Armenian people have appreciated his work and Arakelyan has been given the title of Honored Cave Explorer’ by an institution called that studies caves in Armenia. Many are shocked by the cave that Arakelyan managed to build and he is admired by many for this miracle he presented to the world.
It is hard to believe that one man can create such an impossible site. It is only seen in movies how super-humans
move water, land and sea to bring things that no one can, to life. Arakelyan said that he was not alone, he was assisted by a spirit during the entire process. He attributes his strength and zeal to the almighty God. Its also hard to imagine how one man, by the use of simple tools, could build such a cave. It is said that Arakelyan requested his guest to bring him new tools when the ones he was using were about to wear out. It is only a visit to this site that will make one believe that there are super-humans in this world who come once in a lifetime to leave a legacy that will be remembered throughout time, Lyova Arakelyan is a man to be remembered.