The territory of Buryatia seems to surround the half of the deepest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal (about 60% of its coastline).
Some facts from the history of Buryatia
Buryatia has quite eventful history. The territory of Buryatia was a part of the Huns state, which had been existing for three centuries. Then the Buryat land was a part of the Mongol Empire, founded by Genghis Khan. Later the period of feudal disunity and numerous internal wars began.
In the 16th century the Russian Empire expanded to the east and reclaimed the Transbaikal territories and lands around Lake Baikal, where Russian Cossacks built up several fortresses.
Being a part of the Russian Empire, Buryatia managed to preserve its self-government. This, along with the advantageous location on the trade routes between Europe and Asia, led to the region’s prosperity.
Nowadays Buryatia is the center of Buddhism in Russia.
No doubt, the most famous site in Butyatia is Lake Baikal, which was thoroughly described in our previous articles. However, Buryatia is full of other unique places. Three of them we will describe below.
1. Sleeping Lion Mountain in Buryatia
It is easy to go by car from the capital of Buryatia, the city of Ulan-Ude, to the village Tarbagatay.
In the village outskirts you will see a distinctive natural site, Sleeping Lion Mountain (its common name is “Omulevaya “). From one of the angles this mountain reminds a lying lion with a huge mane. It is also one of the most worshipping places among the Buddhist of Buryatia.
Even these days many people leave offerings on the top of the mountain. Colored rags and some coins can be seen there.
Sleeping Lion Mountain
People can find plenty of rare and vanishing species of plants growing on the mountain. From the mountain you can see an incredible view over the Selenga river-valley. The river flows into the deepest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal.
The Selenga river-valley
The Selenga river-valley in Buryatia
The Selenga river-valley
The village Tarbagatay lay in the way of Old Believers fleeing from the religious persecution after the split of the Russian Orthodox Church. In the Tarbagatay village people can get acquainted with the unique culture of the Semeiskie Old Believers (Russian Old Believers of Transbaikal), who came there during the reign of Catherine the Great.
2. Arshan, Buryatia
The name “Arshan” derives from the Buryat word “healing water”. According to one version, the word “Arshan” originates from Sanskrit and means “nectar”.
The Arshan highland is located in the picturesque Tunkin valley at the bottom of the Tunka range, at the height of 893 meters (2930 ft) above sea level.
Arshan became popular when remarkable healing mineral springs were opened.
Arshan mineral water is used medicinally for bathing and drinking.
The Mineral Springs are located in the Kyngara river-valley, the name derives from the Buryat word “drum”
“Marble Bottom” with air bubbles coming from its bottom
Sacred grove is located near “an eye spring”. Its water is full of iron. Ribbons are tied in the gratitude for healing
Mineral water is really tasty here; it is slightly aerated and brackish
Although it is possible to get to Arshan from the capitol of Buryatia, the city of Ulan-Ude, the shortest road is from Irkutsk.
3. “Warm Lakes”
Teplye Lakes (literally “warm lakes”) are the lakes located on the Chamar-Daban range, on the border of Irkutsk region and Buryatia. Three lakes, Izumrudnoe (Emerald), Teploe (Warm) and Lake Skazka (Fairytale) are filled by the Snezhnaya River. The lakes are located within 10 km (6 mi) from Lake Baikal.
Two lakes are full of fish but in there is no fish in Skazka Lake, as it freezes over in the winter.
Teplye Lakes got their name because warm waters, which reach the temperature of 28 °C (82 °F) above zero during the summertime. A combination of the snow-covered Chamar-Daban range and the sandy beaches of Teplye Lakes leaves a lasting impression on tourists who have chosen to visit this place in Siberia.
This article has touched upon a mere part of natural beauty, which is the landmark of Buryatia.
Photos by Elena Petrova