Levon Arakelyan was 44 years old in 1985, when his wife asked him to dig a potato storage pit under their house in the village of Arinj, in Armenia’s Kotayk region. He obliged, but after finishing work on the pit, he just couldn’t stop chiselling, so he kept at it every day, for the next 23 years.
A builder by trade, Levon was drawn to the rock the moment he started hammering away at it with a chisel. His wife Tosya, who now runs his underground temple as a tourist attraction, says that he was motivated by a series of visions and dreams in which a mysterious voice told him to keep digging. It said that Levon was going to create a He listened, and worked a whopping 18 hours a day, every day, for 23 years. At first, progress was slow, as he had to chisel his way through solid black basalt, but a few meters below the surface, he reached softer volcanic stone which made his work much easier.