|Arch on the Ulan-Ude street.
Ulan-Ude is the capital city of the Buryat Republic. It’s located in the valley formed by the Selenga and Uda Rivers, approximately 75 km away from the Lake Baikal. With the population of 386 000 people, Ulan-Ude is the third largest city in the Eastern Siberia. There are three major ethnicities living in this region: Evenks (the natives of this republic), Buryats (Mongolian tribe that traditionally follows Tibetan Buddhism), and Russians. Today Ulan-Ude is the industrial, scientific and cultural center of Eastern Siberia. Ulan-Ude still has many buildings of XVIII and XIX centuries, such as Gostiny Dvor, Odigitrievsky Cathedral, old merchants’ stalls and dwelling houses. The city is also known for a unique statue of Lenin (Large head of Lenin) located on the central square. People say that this statue is in Ulan-Ude because no other town in Russia wanted it. Buryatiya is the center of the Russian Buddhism. Not far away from Ulan-Ude, next to the village Ivolga, is the largest Buddhist monastery in Russia — Dazan.
Ulan-Ude had the status of “closed city” until 1991. The historical center of Ulan-Ude city has several mansions of Russian Empire times merchants built in Russian classicism style. The nature of Buryatia is known for variety of landscapes, geological conditions and peculiarities of the climate. The climate of Buryatia is sharply continental. Winter is lasting, frosty and windless with snow except the cost of Baikal Lake. Summer is short but warm and sometimes even hot.
Many religions are represented in Buryatia, here peacefully coexist Shamanism and the Buddhism, Old-believing and Orthodoxy.
|Temple of the Pure Land in the Ivolginsky Datsan.
Shamanism had existed long before Buddhism and Christianity came to the shores of the lake Baikal. Some rituals ceremonies of Shamanism are kept by the present day. The example of it is paying tribute to some sacred places during long travels; in Buryat language it is called “Obo” or “Barisa”.
Buddhism in Buryatia exists as Lamaism. In Transbaikalye it has been spread since XVII century, Lamaism and Shamanism have considerably influenced each other. The Buddhist cult structures — datsans are marked with splendid architecture — magnificent ornaments and multicolored interior decorations.
The first orthodox churches were built in Buryatia in the second half of XVII century, after the first Russian settlement (ostrog) had appeared there. In a number of villages there still remain old churches and chapels, which testify to the degree of Christianization in Buryatia. The Orthodoxy was introduced in Transbaikalye since 1681 when the first church (Daurskaya) mission arrived. Its task consisted of Christianity distribution among local population. Spaso-Preobrazhensky Posolsky and St. Troitsky Selenginsky Monasteries were built. In 1700, the Hodigitria Cathedral, and nine years later St. Troitskaya Church were built in the city of Verhneudinsk.
Ulan-Ude city is an important railway junction because of its location on Trans-Siberian Railway between Chita and Irkutsk cities. There is also Trans-Mongolian Railway beginning in Ulan-Ude and going through Mongolia to China capital city Beijing.
Also Trans-Siberian Highway (M55) is going through Ulan-Ude city. It is the only highway to travel to Vladivostok direction. There are two airports in the city: Ulan-Ude main airport “Mukhino” and small airport “Vostochny”.