17-19
AUGUST
2023
Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia

About the Republic of Buryatia

Buryatia is a recognized center of Buddhism in Russia, which has many temples and monasteries that keep countless Buddhist sacred artifacts. Buryatia is regularly included in the list of the most beautiful regions of Russia because of its picturesque taiga forests, mountain ranges, alpine meadows, and the legendary Lake Baikal. More than a million tourists and pilgrims visit the Republic of Buryatia every year. Modern Buryatia is going through a period of rapid development that has affected all spheres of life – new high-tech enterprises are being opened, the most important scholarly projects are being launched, and mineral deposits are being developed.
The Republic of Buryatia is located in the eastern part of Russia and is part of the Far Eastern Federal District. It shares borders with the Irkutsk Region, the Republic of Tyva, and Transbaikalia; in the south there is a state border of the Russian Federation with Mongolia. The total area of Buryatia is 351334 km2, which exceeds the area of either Great Britain or Italy.

Buryatia has a sharp continental climate with little snow and cold winters, with windy spring, and with long and relatively warm summers. This is a sunny region, and rains are not frequent here. Nevertheless, there are a large number of lakes and rivers on the territory of Buryatia: for every inhabitant there is three times as much water as offered by the Russian national average. Of course, a major contribution to this indicator is provided by the fact that Buryatia houses a larger part of Lake Baikal.

Lake Baikal

The largest and deepest lake on Earth. The territory of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. One of the wonders of the world, which many travelers strive to see with their own eyes. Two-thirds of the 2.600 species of animals and aquatic plants living here are unique to our planet. Incredible summer landscapes and the reflection of the bright sun on a perfectly smooth winter ice, seeing the historical Circum-Baikal Railway, and visiting comfortable recreation centers with everything needed for tourism – all of that becomes possible near Lake Baikal, which is hospitable to everyone and at any time of the year.

The local landscape consists of giant mountain ranges – the Eastern Sayans, the ranges of the Stanovoe Highlands and the mountains of the Baikal Region. In the northern part there is also the Vitim plateau with 15 ancient dormant volcanoes. The highest point of the republic is Mount Munku–Sardyk (3491 m above sea level), which is located near the border with Mongolia.

The flora and fauna of Buryatia is strikingly diverse. 83% of the republic's total area is covered with forests, mainly of a larch variety; more than 2,100 plant species grow here, including endemic, rare, and medicinal ones. The fauna includes 2500 species of vertebrates and fish, including the snow leopard and the symbol of the great lake – the unique Baikal seal. The republic is also home to 427 species of birds, including the rare Imperial Eagle, which has a wingspan of over 2 meters. Russia's first nature reserve became the Barguzinsky Nature Reserve that was founded in Buryatia in 1916, which makes it the only nature reserve in the country created before the Russian Revolution of 1917.


The capital of the Republic of Buryatia is the city of Ulan-Ude that was founded in 1666. Among the attractions, one should see the largest open-air museum of Russia known as the Ethnographic Museum of the Peoples of Transbaikalia, and the National Museum of the Republic of Buryatia, which has a unique collection of Buddhist cult objects (in particular, there is a rare Atlas of Tibetan Medicine in the Rare Books Collection), and many well-preserved buildings of the XIX century.

CENTER OF THE RUSSIAN BUDDHISM

Buryatia became the first province of the Russian Empire on whose territory Buddhism was recognized as a legitimate religion: the corresponding manifesto was published in 1741, while in 1764 Empress Catherine the Great personally established the post of Pandito Hambo Lama, the head of Buddhists of Eastern Siberia and Transbaikalia. In 1945, the revival of Buddhism in the USSR began in Buryatia, when the Ivolginsky Datsan was founded by believers, and only a year later it was approved as the residence of the Head of the Buddhists of the USSR. Since 1991, a unique Buddhist university has been established here inviting students from all parts of Russia to come and study here.

Modern Ulan-Ude is a well–established center of Oriental Studies and comprehensive study of Buddhism. Located here, the Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (founded in 1922) has one of the world's largest collections of ancient manuscripts in Oriental languages, old printed books, and manuscripts of over ten thousand volumes, and hundreds of thousands of texts. Including: woodcut editions of Kangyur and Tengyur, created in the Tibetan monasteries of Derge and Narthang; the Kangyur edition of the Imperial Printing House of Beijing of the Qin era, and Ikh Khüree (now Ulaanbaatar); and Kangyur, published by the Tibetan monastery of Chone. The National Museum of the Republic of Buryatia holds treasures of Buddhist art, including a unique Atlas of Tibetan Medicine, which is the only complete copy of the Tibetan original of the XVII century.

The Republican Clinical Treatment and Rehabilitation Center of Oriental Medicine is a good example of a medical institution in Buryatia, which combines modern technologies and approaches with the methods of traditional medicine.

SACRED PLACES

The Republic of Buryatia is home to 28 datsans, each of them being a true treasure trove of Buddhist culture. The pearl of Buddhism in Russia – Ivolginsky Datsan – receives believers from all parts of the world. This largest monastery complex includes 10 temples, a greenhouse, a museum, workshops, and a shop for carving Buddhist sculptures. In addition, Zayaev Dashi Choynkhorlin Buddhist University was established here in 1991 with four functioning faculties where hubaraks (students) from all parts of Russia can study philosophy, tantric studies, arts, and medicine.

The jewel of the Ivolginsky datsan is the incorruptible body of XII Pandito Hambo Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov – an outstanding Buddhist ascetic, religious figure, and practitioner of the highest level. In 1927, during the last meditation, the Hambo Lama went into a special state, in which he remains to this day preserving many signs of a living body, such as elastic skin and mobility of joints. According to the will of Itigelov himself, his body was placed in a cedar sarcophagus and was kept underground for 75 years; now, during a special ceremony held 8 times a year, pilgrims can evidence that the body remains incorruptible. This phenomenon is a matter of extraordinary interest to Buddhists from all parts of the world.

A Sandalwood Buddha statue (Zandan-Zhuu) resides in a remote Egituysky datsan as the first Buddha statue in history. According to legend, this 218 cm high statue was made of sandalwood about 2500 years ago, and, thus, is considered the only sculpture created during the lifetime of Buddha Shakyamuni.

TOURISM

More than a million tourists visit the Republic of Buryatia every year to see the great Lake Baikal, untouched taiga, snow-capped mountain ranges, and crystal-clear rivers in a place rich with history, amazing cultural traditions, unique architectural, and engineering sightseeing attractions.

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Partners

Supported by the Roskongress Foundation