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Wonders of the Barguzin valley

Source:  Buryatia. The sunny side of Baikal. - Ulan-Ude, 2010. - H. 54-59.

«There you can feel and touch the pagan snitlts, the gods of Shamanism and Buddhism and you can use it for your benefit…».

This is the cradle of famous Baikal wind Barguzin. It is a strong wind, blowing along the valley of the Barguzin River and rushing into the expanses of Baikal from the north-west: «Hey, Barguzin, move the waves!» — this song is about the wind. They believe that Barguzin brings sunny weather.

This narrow fruitful valley is a melting pot for different peoples, centuries, ways of living, rites and beliefs. You can start your trip along the valley right from the shore of Baikal, from the settlement of Ust-Barguzin.

250 km long road, which appeared in the 19th century, goes along the river northeast. The settlement of Barguzin developed from a small fortification. It has an official status of historical city of Russia. It has old buildings, including the Cathedral of Transfiguration (1804), famous international cemetery with the grave of Pushkin's friend poet-decembrist Wilhelm Kyukhelbecker; grave of the explorer and traveler Zenon Svatosh — one of the founders of the Barguzin nature reserve, the oldest Russian wild life sanctuary. Supposedly, a Hungarian poet Shandor Petefi, but nobody knows exactly where is his grave...

All the names here «speak volumes»: the name of the regional center Kurumkan is translated from the Evenk language as «stone river on the rock». The playful name of the settlement Ulyun is associated with the Evenk word «uluki», which means «squirrel», but the population here is constituted mostly by the Buryats. There is also a museum of Buryat culture here.

Not far away there is the mountain called Barkhan-Uula, one of the 13 Buddhist sanctities, the place where lamas administer the divine services. This area is rich in holy places, marked by little garden houses, remarkable trees or carved poles (called «obo»), decorated with colorful ribbons, which waver in the wind and bring to the local Spirit the prays about recovery, happy life and successful journey. It is a must to stop and to honor the Spirit by splashing some wine, giving some cookies or sweets, some tea, leaving several matches - the source of fire, several coins...

Just recently on the territory of the nature reserve near ulus (settlement) of Yarikto on a huge boulder they found the mage of a happy dancing woman. It reembles greatly the Hindu goddess Sarasvati - the patron of arts, crafts, eloquence and wisdom, legendary author of the ancient Sanskrit language, the father language of Indo-European languages, including Slavic. The Buryat name of the goddess is Yanzhima. This place is declared sacred, and lots of people come here to honor the goddess and to pray for mercy.

Buddhists think that Yanzhima appearing here is a sign of special favor to the Barguzin land - she keeps the spiritual traditions, nature and fruitfulness.

Local shamans do their rituals in the holy places, hot springs like those on the Alia River (from Evenk language «Alia» is interpreted as «spark»)... Down the malachite sediments covered bed the waters of the hot spring go into the Alia River, which, in its turn, brings the water to the Barguzin and finally, the Barguzin River goes into Baikal. There are thousands of such big and small precious sources, feeding the lake. This is probably the secret of Baikal water being miracle working and eternal.

The steppe part of Barguzin valley is really interesting and beautiful! The valley is actually always beautiful, but it gets its special charm in spring and at the height of autumn, when the steppe is bright-orange with numerous saucers of lazuli-blue lakes and marshlands and emerald green near the hot springs. It is real impressionism!

Local natural monuments possess the magic ability to turn into the castles, fairytale caves, usual and wondrous animals. Such is «Saxony of Suva» - the outlines of the rocks resemble greatly the gothic architecture. From the top of the rocks one can enjoy gorgeous views of the valley with all its lakes, streams and marshes, which make the area really unique!

Visit the rock-garden of Inninsk and what you will see will be the stones of different size and different kinds, hulking up in the steppe. Sometimes it seems that the stones-hermits grow from the earth, making unusually beautiful composition. And this «garden» stretches up till the horizon line...

The stone called Bukhe-Shulun («Bull-Stone») is a sanctity of the Barguzin valley, the Spirit of the Stone. According to the ancient legend the Buryats drove the cattle to the Chita lands. One of the bulls liked the valley so much that it wouldn't leave it. Three times they forced the bull to leave the valley and three times it returned back until it petfified and stayed in the valley forever. Since that time the local people worship the stone, believing that it incorporates the power, protecting the inhabitants of the valley.

In the area they found the camps and plate graves of the Stone Age people. And along the Argada River and on the rocks nearby they found the images of the Bronze Age.

This place also boasts amazing salty lakes. When you go in the reddish-orange steppe you suddenly come across a small ice-colored salty lake brimmed by the «snowy» shores. The solution of the lake is so strong that the water would not «pour», it would go down your palm heavily, like mercury dropping down for a short time causing a small crater to appear. The surface of the lake is immovable like jellied. Small sawyer «frozen» into the water seem to have «hoarfrost» on them and the shoreline red grass is covered with salty «silver-thaw»...

In summer people come here to get healthier. A tent-settlement appears on the shore and everywhere one can see mud-covered people, walking around. It is good that nearby there is another lake, not so salty, where you can wash down all the medicinal mud, but the salty touch remains on your skin. But this is medicinal salt...

It is up to you how long to travel. You might wish to stay longer near the salty lake or a unique spring or you will go along the reserved tracks... There are so many wonders in the Barguzin valley that it is unlikely to see them all at one time.



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