The town, formerly known as Khula, was a merchant place located on a medieval road that linked Samtskhe-Javakheti to the Black Sea coast. During Ottoman times, Khulo was a chief settlement of Upper Adjara governed by the Khimshiashvili family. In 1829, it was briefly occupied by the Russian force of General Osten-Sacken who resigned the Khimshiashvili residence before withdrawal. Khulo's population, largely Islamized under the Ottomans, diminished dramatically under the Russian oppression of Islam in the 1870s. A series of floods and avalanches in the 1990s-2000s induced another wave of migration from the mountainous villages of the rayon.