Baikal Three Religions
Lake Baikal is a legend. It is the oldest (25 million years) and deepest (1,700 m) lake in the world. It contains 20% of the world's fresh water. Known as the "Galapagos of Russia", UNESCO World Heritage site, it has one of the world's richest and most unusual freshwater fauna.
Lake Baikal has appeared in a place of strong tectonic activity, it is an energy center in the heart of Eurasia and a kaleidoscope of cultures. From the 6th century, the shores of Baikal were inhabited by Kurikans, a Turkic tribe. In the early 13th century Mongol tribes settled here and the indigenous population of Baikal, Buryats, were formed as a nation. Siberian shamanism was born as people with imagination felt deep connection with the Land and had the charisma to communicate what they felt to others.
Since ancient times, Buryats and Mongols spiritualize Baikal. There are many shrines and sacred natural places on Baikal where shamanistic rituals are performed. These beliefs are born in the minds of people who profoundly feel the eternal beauty and energy of Baikal. Performed in stunning natural scenes, places with such an expressed personality as Khoboy Cape or sacred Zima mount, the experiences become even more subtle and palpable.
Few hours are enough to feel the magic of Baikal, the sudden weather changes, the gorgeous scenery, the peaceful solitude and Sarma, the unpredictable and terrific Baikal wind that can “blow and move seven ton trucks on the ice”. During our travel to this surprising place, we will hear as many of Baikal myths as we will witness breathtaking landscapes.
Next to Buryats we will meet Russian Old Believers inhabiting the shores of Baikal since the late 17th century. This is an unusual encounter in these days of skepticism as we see people live preserving strong moral traditions, cult of family and veneration of the old.
The last part of our trip is spent in Mongolia where we explore some of its outstanding Buddhist heritage visiting monastic complexes and Karakorum, the capital of the Great Mongol Empire of Genggis Khan.