16 sights of Elista worth visiting
Every year, thousands of tourists discover the peculiar beauty of the sights of Elista – the capital of the Republic of Kalmykia. The residents of the city, which is the largest center of Buddhism in Russia, cherish the cultural heritage of nomadic Kalmyks. The amazing combination of Eastern traditions and modern European culture creates a unique appearance of the city, unlike any other city in the world.
Golden Shrine of the Buddha Shakyamuni
Golden Shakyamuni Buddha Abode. | Photo: Alexx Malev / Flickr.
Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni was built with the blessing of His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV. It is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Europe.
The main gate of the monastery is located on the south side. At the entrance to the temple, a figure of the White Elder has been installed. This was a tribute to the Kalmyk ancestors who worshipped a pagan god, the patron of the steppes. Divine services are held in a large hall where there is a golden statue of Shakyamuni Buddha 12 meters high.
Around the khurul installed pagodas decorated with sculptures of Buddhist teachers. There are prayer drums. In a local shop you can buy various souvenirs.
Address: Golden Abode of Shakyamuni Buddha, Elista, Russia.
When asked by tourists what to see in Elista, residents point to the center of the city, where the Golden Gate stands. They were erected in the 90s of the last century and are an arch of 15 meters high, which stands on red pillars. The architecture of the building is made according to the canons of Buddhist architecture.
The gate represents a kind of sacred threshold. The karma of the person who passes under it is spiritually cleansed. The road lined with white stones symbolizes the path of virtue. Sometimes near the gate one can hear the iridescent ringing of bells and make a wish. Wedding motorcades stop here. The newlyweds pass under the arch and ask for love in the family and longevity to their parents.
The decoration of the arch are 28 paintings, the subjects of which recall important milestones in the history of Kalmykia, illustrating the events of the Golden Horde. One of the compositions is devoted to the Great Silk Road through which caravans with rich cargo moved.
Address: Golden Gate, A154, Elista, Russia.
Pagoda of Seven Days
The Seven Days Pagoda.
The pagoda is a 15-meter-high Seven Days pagoda on Lenin Square. The pagoda is a 15-meter tall pagoda on Lenin Square and is dedicated to the legend of the Seven Buddhas, who came to the world of men. The spire with a sharp end “ganjir” is a symbol of achieving nirvana. Inside the pavilion is a huge brass prayer drum covered in gold leaf. It contains recordings of 75 million mantras. The turning of the drum counts as the recitation of all the mantras.
It is especially lively and beautiful in the summertime when the fountains around the pagoda are working.
Address: Seven Days Pagoda, Elista, Russia.
The best tours in Elista:
Bortkha spring. | Photo: wikimedia.
The Bortkha spring was the reason for the emergence of a town in the middle of the endless steppes. The events began to unfold in 1845, when the Russian emperor issued a decree to green the expanses of Kalmykia. In 1853 to execute the decree a grove of oaks was planted around the spring. Soon the first settler – the Voronezh peasant Stepan Kiykov – appeared there. Gradually the oak forest grew. It was ennobled and turned into a city park area.
The spring was named Bortkha in 1971. This is the name of the flat flask made of leather that nomads always carried with them. Around the spring there is a concrete ring for collecting water and a stylized sculpture in the form of a vessel with a national pattern. In the early XXI century a picturesque Buddhist rotunda was built near the spring.
Address: Druzhba, Lenina Street, Elista, Russia.
Museum of chess glory. | Photo: Alexx Malev / Flickr.
Chess City (City-Chess) was built in preparation for the XXXIII World Chess Olympiad, which was held in 1998. It is located on the outskirts of the city from the south-eastern side. Endowed with administrative status with the relevant authorities and has a developed infrastructure of life support. Outwardly resembles an elite cottage village.
You can enter the city by car. However, the speed is limited to 20 km / h, so it is much more convenient to walk. Residents of the town pay a lot of attention to the landscaping of the streets. Here you can walk for hours and look at interesting sculptures on chess subjects. Almost all the cottages belong to individuals. Part of the buildings are adapted for hotels, where tourists who come from afar can stay.
The center of attraction of the City-Chess is the current Chess Palace, where chess tournaments are held and the Chess Museum is open to the public. The floors on the first floor are three large chess boards. Visitors can play a game using the huge pieces. In his time in the town visited such celebrities as Sophia Rotaru, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris.
Address: Chess City, Elista, Russia.
House-Museum of Poet D. Kugultinov
House-museum of poet D. Kugultinov.
David Nikitich Kugultinov (1922-2006) is a national poet of Kalmykia known far beyond its borders. His works tell about the difficult historical path of the Kalmyk people. The poet wrote his first work at the age of 12, in the year of his adulthood he was accepted into the Union of Writers of the USSR.
In the first year of the war David went to the front. In 1944, together with other Kalmyks, he endured deportation. He spent 15 years in exile. After returning home he received higher education and continued his work.
After the death of the poet a museum was arranged in his house. Now it is not available to the public. In the courtyard, sandstone figures created for the 3rd International Symposium “The World of David Kugultinov” are on display.
Address: House Museum of the poet D.N. Kugultinov, A.I. Suseev Street, Elista, Russia.
The monument “Golden Horseman” stands on a high hill and is seen from afar at the entrance to the capital. A man on a horse looking into the distance is an image of a hero of the “Dzhangar” folklore epic who personifies courage, bravery and bravery. A high artificial mound was specially created to erect the monument. The high stele gives the impression that the rider is flying above the ground. The bow means the readiness of the warrior to defend the city. On the left side of the rider is a hawk accompanying him everywhere.
The sculpture is made of polymeric materials on a metal frame and covered with gold leaf. The monument took 600 grams of precious metal.
Address: The Golden Horseman, Monument, Dzhangara Street, Elista, Russia.
Kazan Cathedral Cathedral.
The main Kalmyk Christian church was built in 1996. For its opening, His Holiness Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia presented the cathedral with two shrines: the Blachernae icon of the Mother of God and the Kazan icon of the Mother of God.
The octagonal structure is made in the Byzantine style with elements of late baroque. The spherical bell tower has 7 bells. The crosses and domes over the rotunda are made of stainless steel and covered with gold leaf.
The church contains a capsule with the earth from Jerusalem, the icon of “The Appearance of Jesus Christ to the Praying”, the holy relics of Nicholas the Wonderworker, Innocent, the Apostle Timothy, and other important Christian shrines.
Address: Kazan Cathedral, Elista, Russia.
A. M. Amur-Sanana National Library
National Library named after A. M. Amur-Sanana.
The national library was founded in 1958 and bears the name of the creator of the Kalmyk literary school, the author-publicist A. M. Amur-San.
In 2008-2010 the library underwent a major reconstruction, which brought it up to modern standards of cultural institutions of this kind.
The building is made of glass and concrete. The entrance is decorated with gentle two-span stairs and in the center there is a sculptural panel. The architecture of the structure is in the type of “patio”. The library has a courtyard, and the auditoriums are located along the perimeter of the building.
It not only makes books available for reading, but also participates in various cultural and educational activities for children and adults. The book base is gradually going digital, which makes it possible to use the collection from anywhere in the world.
Address: A. M. Amur-Sanana National Library, Pushkina Street, Elista, Russia.
National Museum of the Republic of Kalmykia. National Museum of Kalmykia N. N. Palmov
National Museum of Kalmykia N. N. Palmov. N. N. Palmov National Museum of Kalmykia.
National Museum of Kalmykia is one of the oldest cultural institutions of the republic. The museum was created in 1921, when the Soviet regime was being established. During the first ten years its workers were collecting, studying and systematizing materials. When everything was ready, the halls were opened for visitors.
Now the museum exhibits are located in the modern building. Branches have been opened in other cities of the republic. The permanent exhibition consists of five parts and tells about the history, culture and traditions of the peoples of Kalmykia, the events of the 20th century, and the peculiarities of local flora and fauna.
A part of the exposition is devoted to Buddhist art. Exhibitions of modern artists, master classes, holidays and festivals are held in the museum building.
Address: National Museum of the Republic of Kalmykia. Address: National Museum of Kalmykia N. N. Palmova Street, Dzhangara, Elista, Russia.
The Stupa of Enlightenment
The Stupa of Enlightenment.
The Stupa of Enlightenment was erected in 1999 and belongs to the cult constructions where Buddhist relics of Elista are collected. The architectural monument is 11 meters high and is located near the Karma Kagyu Buddhist center. It is called Monlam Tamched Drupa, which means “the doer of all prayers”.
The iconic structure is equipped with a kurde drum where 500 million mantras are recorded. All elements of the architectural component carry the special cultic meaning of the Buddhist faith.
There are many such stupas in Asian and European countries. According to the teachings of Buddhism, they contain the magical power of virtue and help get rid of vices and harmonize life.
Address: Stupa of Enlightenment, Elista, Russia.
Geden Sheddup Choi Korling Khurul complex
Geden Sheddup Choi Corling khurul complex.
Geden Sheddup Choi Korling was originally built as a spiritual enlightenment center of Buddhism. When the Central Khurul was built in Elista, it lost its significance. The inhabitants gave it the name “Old Khurul”.
At the end of the last century, the Dalai Lama came here to consecrate the construction of the temple “Syakyusn-Sume”. This religious monastery is an embodiment of the architectural traditions of Tibet and Kalmykia.
On the first floor there is an altar and a gilded figure of Buddha. The second floor is devoted under library and rooms for meditation. At the entrance to the temple there are drums for prayers. Services are not held here, the monastery is open during the training of monks or at the request of tourists.
Geden Sheddup Choi Corling has a lamas room and a stupa with the remains of the Sanji Lama.
Address: Old Khurul Syakyusn-Sume (Syakyusn-sum), Republic of Kalmykia, Russia.
Lenin Square (Central Square in Elista).
Lenin Square (Central Square of Elista).
The appearance of the Central Square of the city began to form in the 30s of the last century. The first building on the square was the House of Soviets, which housed all government agencies of the republic. During the fascist occupation, the building was badly damaged by fire. In 1959, a new five-storey building appeared, and the old one, after restoration, became part of the Kalmyk State University.
A monument to Lenin was erected in 1970. In 1995, a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha was erected in the alley that leads to the park. In Buddhism, it is considered disrespectful to turn one’s back on lamas, monks and images of revered teachers. This rule also applies to monuments. Since the Lenin monument looked the other way, it was turned around 180 degrees.
Until 2006 the square was no different from thousands of similar ones around the country. The XXI century has made some changes. It has built two picturesque Buddhist symbols – the Seven Days Pagoda and the “Three Lotuses” fountain. For the bicentennial of the victory over Napoleon the Triumphal Arch was built, which serves as the Southern Gate of the square.
Address: Lenin Square, Elista, Russia.
The park spreads over an area of 25 hectares. It hosts monuments and cultural sites, memorials. It was laid in 1937. The official opening of the park was in the peak of the Great Patriotic War. The devastation was not to be avoided. The conception of Druzhba Park as purely entertaining was changed. In the 60s, a number of monuments were opened here, which immortalized the memory of the war heroes who passed away.
Now you can walk through the alley of heroes and visit the memorial dedicated to the fallen defenders of the Motherland, made in the form of three steles. In the park, an “eternal flame” burns to symbolize the exploits of war heroes. The entrance to the park area is decorated with a mosaic decoration “Bloom, Kalmykia!
Address: Druzhba, Lenin Street, Elista, Russia.
The Three Lotuses Fountain
The Three Lotuses Fountain.
In autumn 2006 the central square of Elista was transformed. The “Three Lotuses” fountain was one of the significant architectural elements that appeared during that period. The composition consists of a bowl lined with marble and three high steles topped with lotuses. The golden petals of the flower turn into fiery flashes when exposed to the sunlight.
This is the first fountain in the republic that has light-music accompaniment. When LED balloons illuminate the water, it shimmers with all the colors of the rainbow. In the evenings, during the warm season, music is turned on. There are always a lot of people, tourists make wonderful photo shoots.
Address: Fountain of three lotuses, Elista, Russia.
Monument “Ostap Bender and the 12 Chairs”.
Monument “Ostap Bender and 12 Chairs”.
The two-meter high figure of Elista Ostap Bender is on a granite slab in the center of a small square. The monument is placed on the avenue that leads to City-Chess. The face of the “turkish subject” is turned to the City of Chess.
The literary hero is depicted in his memorable image. He is dressed in skinny pants, his jacket is worn over his bare body, and he is wearing a captain’s cap on his head. He has a chess piece of a horse in one hand and is holding a chessboard with the other.
Twelve chairs are lined up in a semicircle on the square, and there is a small table near each of them. The famous chairs are very comfortable to sit on while walking around the capital. The skillfully made green fence surrounds the architectural ensemble.
Address: Monument to Ostap Bender, Ostap Bender Avenue, Elista, Russia.
16 interesting sights in Elista
Kalmykia is different from the other regions and significantly. As soon as you enter its territory the terrain becomes flatter. This indicates that the steppe begins in front of the tourists. There are few large cities in the republic, the largest and most populous is its capital, Elista. The main feature is the religion of most of the inhabitants, almost everyone here believes in Buddha. In this article I will tell you what are the main attractions to see, where to go and which route to take.
What sights to see in Elista in one day
The city is small, if you want to almost all the sights can be seen in a day, but only if you have booked a tour. If you come to the city on your own to explore it, you will need to stay for several days.
In a short period of time you can see a lot, if you plan your trip properly:
- A day’s stay will allow you to get a better look at everything if you start familiarizing yourself with the central square, then move to Lenin Street, and from there to the Chess Town;
- If you plan to stay in Elista for 2-3 days, then you can not in a hurry, for this time, if you have a car you can explore not only the central part of town, but also to visit the Buddhist temple “Sakyusn-Sume”.
Elista is a very colorful city, here you will like very much chess lovers and people interested in the Buddhist faith.
Buddhist khurul “Golden abode of Shakyamuni Buddha”
In Elista is the largest shrine for Buddhists hurul “Golden Abode of Shakyamuni Buddha”. The temple is a big snow-white building built according to all rules and laws. The perimeter of the temple is surrounded by a fence with small statues every five meters. There are four entrances to the territory of the monastery, one on each side of the world, but the temple itself is accessible through two entrances, the southern one for worshippers and tourists and the northern one, which serves as a service entrance.
Sakyusn Sume Buddhist Temple
Six kilometers separate the second largest Buddhist temple, Syakyusn-Sume, from Elista. This location was chosen not without reason, immediately behind the shrine is the steppe, where the educational buildings, the monastery and the hotel were to be located. The site for the temple was consecrated in the early 1990s by the Dalai Lama XIV personally, and the shrine was erected four years later. In 2004 there was a ceremony of “rande”, only after that the temple became a true home for the gods.
The Stupa of Enlightenment
Among the attractions of Elista is the Stupa of Enlightenment. The construction is 11 meters high and was built in the late 90s of last century by donations of followers of the Buddha’s teaching from Russia and Ukraine. The city authorities donated the land for the Stupa. It was opened in July and since then everyone can come and get a portion of peace and well-being at any time of the day or night. A distinctive feature of the area where the Stupa of Enlightenment is located is the large number of ropes with colorful flags with mantras, thus paying tribute to the spirits of the air.
Pagoda of Seven Days
In the early 2000s, the Seven Days Pagoda was built in the central square of the city with the participation of monks from the Gudmed Indian Monastery. Earlier there was a monument to the leader of the proletariat, Vladimir Lenin, which was badly damaged during the riots in 2004, by order of the authorities it was removed from the square. In its place was erected a 15-meter shrine, which fit into the cityscape, giving the square a true oriental flavor.
Golden Gate in Kalmykia
The Golden Gates are one of the main attractions of the Kalmyk capital. They were erected back in the 1990s, the appearance of the structure speaks for itself, everything has been done in the best traditions of Buddhist culture. A walk along the gate will tell the whole history of the Kalmyk people in 28 images. The arch with illustrations is something like a purifier for Buddhists, by walking through it a believer removes all the negative from themselves. It is popular among newlyweds as well, the photo will be a guarantee of a long and happy life.
In the southern part of the city is easy to find the main Orthodox Cathedral of Elista and Kalmykia. Kazan Cathedral was erected on the site of the Orthodox Church in honor of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which since the 30s stopped church services and was completely dismantled. Prior to that, services for the parish were held in the parish school built in the late 19th century. Kazan Cathedral in Elista was consecrated in July 1997 by His Holiness Alexy II Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. After the construction was completed, the Patriarch presented the cathedral with two icons: the Kazan icon of the Mother of God and the Blachernae icon of the Mother of God, which are of great value.
The Chapel Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh
The Chapel Chapel of Sergius of Radonezh is located in the seventh microdistrict of Elista, the construction of which was finished in 2005. The place for the chapel back in the late 1990s was consecrated by Patriarch Alexy II himself. The opening was timed to two events in the city, the 60th anniversary of the victory in World War II and the tenth anniversary of the diocese in Kalmykia. The chapel is a one-dome structure with a bowed cross next to it.
For the 33rd World Chess Olympiad in Elista was built Chess Town, which outwardly resembles an elite district of the capital of Kalmykia. Each of the houses has its own personal name, closely related to the chess pieces. Chess tournaments, both All-Russian and World, are often held here. In the days when there are no tournaments, the town is one big hotel, which is simply buried in the greenery. Often you can meet the newlyweds here, there is an active registry office.
Chess Hall of Fame Museum
In the chess town of Elista, on its main street, there is an unusual museum, one of a kind. The Museum of Chess Glory was opened in 2001, and ten years later it was reconstructed. In 20011 the museum was named after the great chess player Mikhail Tal, which it bears to this day. The building of the museum is divided into two parts, the first part contains exhibits from various chess tournaments, which were presented to K. Ilyumzhinov, the first president of Kalmykia, by his friends. In the second you can see in detail the personal belongings, awards, souvenirs of M. Tal.
Exodus and Return Memorial
The eastern part of the city has its own special attraction, on the mound is a sculpture that brings many different experiences and emotions to the viewer. The author is Ernst Neizvestny, who was helped in New York to cast the sculpture in bronze. The memorial commemorates the Kalmyk residents who were repressed by Stalin in 1943 because they could not hold the city and gave it up to the Nazis. There is a wagon on the territory of the memorial, these were used to transport Kalmyks to Siberia, and in the mound itself there is soil from all the towns where the repressed were located.
The Boy and the Dragon Fountain
The center of Elista is decorated by a fountain with characters from folk tales. The author colorfully portrayed one of the legends, according to which the boy helps the dragon to fly up into the sky again, thereby saving his land from all sorts of cataclysms. After all, while the monster is here, rains, lightning and thunder fall on the land. The sculpture was unveiled in the mid-90s of the last century, to this day the youngest residents of Elista long to look at this work of art and can not pass by.
The Three Lotuses Fountain
After reconstruction in 2006 the central square of Elista has opened for the locals and guests of the city in a completely different appearance than they are used to see it. The main decoration is the republic’s first light and music fountain, which is made in the form of three lotus flowers. It is worth admiring the fountain at night, the water is lit with all the colors of the rainbow, which leaves a lasting impression. In the daytime, the petals of flowers in the sun give off gold, blowing around a lot of sunlight bunnies.
Residents of the city love to stroll in the central park, it will also be interesting for visitors. Tourists can not only walk through the alleys and relax on the benches, but also consider the monuments, of which there are plenty in the park. Special attention should be paid to the white elder Gypsy Aava.
Arc de Triomphe
No less famous landmark of Elista is a triumphal arch, which was opened on the 200th anniversary of the victory over Napoleon. It is made in the Buddhist style, installed at the end of the central square of the city.
At the end of Lenin Street stands a one-story red brick building, all that remains of several blocks of school that were erected at the beginning of the last century to educate children from poor families, orphans, and children of employees of the ulus administration. This building was provided for the education of boys, here they had classes for four years, only after that they could enter further.
Monument to Ostap Bender
The first monument to a literary hero, namely to Ostap Bender, was erected near the Chess City at the very end of the last century. All chess-lovers, both local and international, yearn to visit the Great Combinator. They say that if you hold Bender’s knight in your hand before a match, victory is inevitable.