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If you are browsing the Trans-Siberian railroad or on the way to or from Mongolia, you must stop in Ulan-Ude city to experience the largest Buddhist community in Russia. The Buryats, numbering approximately 350,000, are the largest ethnic minority group in Siberia, and are mainly concentrated in their homeland, the Buryat Republic with the capital city called Ulan-Ude. Buryats are of Mongolian descent and share many customs with their neighboring cousins including nomadic herding and setting up yurts for shelter. The Soviet industrialization changed the pace for many locals, especially their children by mixing everybody into soviet style of life. If you were here 20-30 years ago, very few signs would indicate that Buryats are very different from the image of a typical Soviet citizen, but not today...
The Ethnographic Museum of Transbaikalian People was established in 1973 within 15 km from the city. It is one of the largest open air exhibitions in Russia showing life and culture of many ethnic groups living in Eastern Siberia and Baikal Region.
The Ivolginsky Datsan (Temple) is located 35 km from the city. It was the only Buddhist temple officially active on the territory of former USSR. One of the monastery's treasures is a rare collection of old Buddhist manuscripts written in Tibet language and a greenhouse with a holly Bodskhva tree.
Atsagat Datsan (Temple) is located in Atsagat village 60km from the city. The temple was reopened in 1991. It has been visited by Czarevitch Nicholas II and blessed by Dalai Lama XIV. In nearby village Khara-Shibir (~ 13 km) was born Agvan Dorzhiev, a famous researcher and orientalist. His log home has been rebuilt by a mineral spring in Narin-Atsagat site, where Dorzhiev established a school for Tibetan doctors.
Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov was the 12th Lama of Eastern Siberia in the midst of 18th century. After his death in 1917, he asked to be buried in the cubical coffin made in the meditation pose. There was nothing special done to the coffin except that it was filled with salt. The Lama asked to open the coffin in 75 years. When the coffin was opened, Dashi-Dorzho was sitting in the same meditation pose. The official statement was issued about the body – it was "in the condition of someone who had died 36 hours ago", very well preserved, without any signs of decay, with whole muscles and inner tissue, soft joints and skin.
[Option 1] - 4 hrs, Ivolginsky Temple
Transfer Ulan-Ude city -> Ivolginsky Temple (~35km one way). Sightseeing and souvenir shopping (~2 hrs). Transfer to the Museum of Transbaikalian People. Sightseeing (~ 1 hr). Return to Ulan-Ude.
[Option 2] - 5 hrs, Ivolginsky Temple + Museum
Transfer Ulan-Ude city -> Ivolginsky Temple (~35km one way). Sightseeing and souvenir shopping (~2 hrs). Transfer to the Museum of Transbaikalian People. Sightseeing (~1 hr). Return to Ulan-Ude.
[Option 3] - 4 hrs, Atsagat Temple
Transfer (~ 60km) Ulan-Ude city -> Atsagat Temple. Sightseeing with stops at Agvan Dorzhiev house (~2 hrs). Return to Ulan-Ude.
[Option 4] - 1 hour, Traditional Buryat Lunch
If you wish to experience local food, prebook the lunch for your trip. Please be aware that Buryat food is very basic: fresh meat/fish, potato, bread. The food is often prepared outside in the yard on the open fire or stoves with basic sanitary. Definitely try traditional Buryat meal called "manty" similar to Chinese dumplings, but bigger, spicier and juicer.
Private Transportation w/gasoline;
Temple Entrance Fee;
Museum Admission Fee;
Not included:Meals or snacks;
Special exhibitions fees;
Time/Fees for pick ups outside of the city center perimeter;
Special tour-related note:Depending on the season, bring: sweater or light jacket, umbrella, sun glasses, cap, warm boots, mittens, hat and thick coat. Plan for the worst, especially in the winter for incidents such as car break downs or train delays.
Bring light snacks, sandwiches & water;
Custom: Classic Trans-Siberian RR (10 stops)
Custom: Russia-Mongolia-China RR (7 stops)
Old Believers of Eastern Siberia
Sergiyev Posad - the Holly Place
The Great Wall and Ming Tombs
Ulan-Ude the City
Where Cultures Meet
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