The 22 best sights of Kalmykia – description and photos
The Golden Abode of Shakyamuni Buddha is a significant Buddhist temple in Europe and the Republic of Kalmykia, a majestic and bright place, the dominant feature of all Kalmykia and Elista, located in its very heart and visible from every corner of the city.
Golden Gate in Elista
Located in the heart of Elista is the Golden Gate in Elista, a unique exotic monument of Buddhist architecture, the most recognizable and beloved sight of the city, installed in the 1990s, which illustrates the whole history of Kalmyk life.
Every normal lake has its own legend. Manych-Gudilo frightened people with its hum. Residents of nearby settlements quickly invented different spirits: hum and go away. In fact, there were no spirits at all, and the wind raged, which in these very places makes frightening sounds.
Big Yashalta Lake
If you study the history of Big Yashalta Lake in detail, you can find many stories about miraculous healings. For example, a Moscow couple could not conceive a child. They tried everything – nothing worked. One day they came to rest on a lake. They spent several days there.
Only 175 years ago there was nothing on this place, except a small key, beating from the ground in the middle of the vast Kalmyk steppes. In 1845 the Emperor of Russia issued a decree to plant trees in the vast expanses of Kalmykia, and in 1853 an oak grove was planted around the spring.
Startup of Peter the Great Rostov-on-Don – Azov – Taganrog 3 days.
Chess City in Elista
Do you play chess or have any idea of this fascinating sporting game? Then you will be delighted to visit the original place in Elista – the Chess City on the southeastern outskirts. This entertaining attraction of Elista was built for the 33rd World Chess Olympiad.
House-Museum of the poet D. N. Kugultinov in Elista
In Elista, rich in beautiful interesting places, there is the house of David Nikitich Kugultinov, in which after his death a museum was arranged. This two-storey house was given to the poet in 1990. D.N. Kugultinov is the only people’s poet of Kalmykia who is known outside Kalmykia.
The Black Earth Reserve
The reserve with the frightening name Cherniye Zemli is a famous refuge for saigas. They come here at the beginning of May to show their offspring and then go on their way. Why Black Land? Because it rarely snowed in the reserve, and from space these lands looked like a gaping hole. And even when the snow came back here, they decided not to change the name.
The eight-meter high monument “Golden Horseman” stands on a high stele on an artificial hill at the entrance to Elista from Volgograd. The image of a man on a horse looking intently into the distance – the hero of the Dzhangar folklore epic – symbolizes courage, bravery and bravery of the Kalmyks.
Kazan Cathedral in Elista
The people of Elista are proud of their main Kalmyk Christian temple – the Kazan Cathedral. It was erected in 1996 in the south of Elista and consecrated a year later by His Holiness Alexy II Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, who made priceless gifts to the church.
The Red School
Elista was almost completely destroyed during the Great Patriotic War. The Red School is one of the few buildings in the capital of Kalmykia that escaped the sad fate. Its history started in 1907.
National Library of Kalmykia
The sculpture at the entrance to the National Library of Kalmykia depicts the founder of the Kalmyk literary school, the author and publicist Amur-Sananu, whose name the institution bears. Founded in 1958, the library first had the status of a regional library.
National Museum of Kalmykia
The Republic of Kalmykia has a rich historical past, but it was not studied until 1920 thanks to the efforts of the scholar-historians P.S. Rykov and N.N. Palmov. The museum was established in Elista by the decision of the first congress of the Soviets under the local committee of education on March 25, 1921.
The Pagoda of Seven Days
The Pagoda of Seven Days neighbors quite photogenically with the monument to the leader of the world proletariat – both buildings are on the central Lenin square. The name of the temple, installed in Elista in 2005, is a reference to the legend of the seven Buddhas, who came into the world of people.
Monument to Alexander Pushkin in Elista
Probably there is no person on earth that is not familiar with the creative work of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, and there is no city in our country where there is no monument to our favorite Russian poet, familiar from childhood. Elista, the capital of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, is no exception in this respect, too.
Monument to Oka Gorodovikov
Oka Gorodovikov (1879-1960) – military commander, Hero of the Soviet Union, was born on the Don in a large family of Kalmyk Cossack. At the age of 24 he was drafted into the army, which became the basis of his life. He started as a shepherd at the age of 8, worked his way up and finished after World War II.
Monument to Ostap Bender in Elista
Going to the City-Chess of Elista, don’t miss the wonderful monument that adorns the capital of Kalmykia, the “great combinator”, a man “with brains”, the hero of the works of I. Ilf and E. Petrov’s works – Ostap Bender.
Monument to Ubashi Khan
Ubashi, the last khan of the Kalmyk kingdom, who ascended the throne at the age of 17 thanks to the patronage of the Russian Empire, is famous for the great and tragic migration of traders from the Volga region to the east – Dzungaria.
Stupa of Enlightenment in Elista
The Stupa of Enlightenment in Elista is a bright and unique architectural monument of Kalmykia, a cult building where Buddhist relics are kept in Elista. There are many such stupas in Asian countries and in European countries (France, Hungary and others).
Temple-Chapel of St. Sergius of Radonezh in Elista
The Cathedral in the name of the Kazan icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Elista and Kalmyk Diocese has several churches attached to it, one of which is the functioning Sergiy Radonezhsky Chapel. Opened and consecrated in the spring of 2005 in the Seventh district of the city.
The Republic of Kalmykia lies between the deserts of Astrakhan Oblast and the fields of Stavropol Krai. The vast steppe, the dominant Kalmyk landscape, is the main attraction of the Republic. In spring, before the heat sets in, the steppe is green: poppies, irises, and silver feather-grass are in bloom. But when June comes, the heat is relentless, drying out all the living things and causing steppe fires. The Kalmyks say about a gusty wind, which is responsible for several kilometers long fires, that it blows twice a year: half a year in one direction, half a year in the other. If it blows from the east, it will bring dust storms from the Astrakhan sands; if it blows from the west, expect blessed rain.
On the map, the republic resembles a horse standing on its pylon, which is very symbolic of the nomadic people, for whom sitting in the saddle is no less common than walking on their own two feet. There is also its own breed of horses, Kalmyk horse, stocky, hardy and unpretentious. They are bred in the Tsagan-Nur settlement of the Oktyabrsky District. These horses are suitable for work, and as a sight of Kalmykia at numerous races the republic presents stately handsome Akhalteke horses, bred at the stud farms in Yashkul and Tselinny districts.
On the map the Republic resembles a horse standing on its pylon, which is very symbolic for nomadic people for whom sitting in the saddle is not less habitual than walking on their own two feet.
To the natural attractions of Kalmykia include Sarpin lakes – old beds of the ancient riverbed of the Volga. The largest of them are Sarpa and Tsatsa, but they also fill up with water in the spring, and often dry out in the summer heat. The Baer knolls in the Caspian Lowland, which are oblong hills of extremely regular and monotonous shape, are remarkable in the steppe landscape. There are several versions of their origin, one of the most popular of which is that the area they occupy was once the bottom of the Caspian Sea, which became shallow due to some ancient cataclysm.
Yashalta Salt Lake is well known far beyond the republic: its muds have unique therapeutic properties, superior to the muds of other equally famous lakes. Today there is a therapeutic and recreational resort “Solenoye Ozero” located at Yashalta Lake.
The Black Earth Reserve in Kalmykia, founded in 1990 to study steppe, semi-desert and desert landscapes and the Kalmyk saiga population, is no less remarkable. There is a unique salty lake Manych-Gudilo (Big Manych) on its territory, with marshes near which nesting and wintering grounds of many waterfowl are situated. The total area of the Reserve exceeds 120 hectares, its buffer zone is over 90 hectares. The reserve has an official biosphere status of UNESCO.
Another natural attraction of Kalmykia is the lotus. Near the Caspian Sea, in Lagan, you can see entire lotus fields. In addition, the White Lotus is a traditional Buddhist symbol, and the Kalmyks are the largest Buddhist ethnos in Russia and throughout Europe. Among Buddhists there is an opinion that the Buddha Maitreya will be reborn just in Kalmykia. To prepare for this event, in Elista plan to build a park Maitreya, put his statue, and the consecration of a place for the khurul Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakyamuni came Dalai-lama XIV. In general, Buddhists are very tolerant and peaceful – tourists are free to visit the khurul and observe their rituals. Those who are close to the Buddhist culture and the spirit of the East should like it in Syakyusn-Sum, Elista and Tsagan-Aman.
As for other national Kalmyk customs, much has been lost due to the resettlement of Kalmyks in Siberia in 1943. Today, the ability to dance traditional dances, sew national clothes, and speak and write their native language is best learned in Ketchenerovsky District, in the villages of Tuktun and Evdyk, and at the Shin-Mer farm.
25 Main Sights of Kalmykia
Kalmykia is the only Buddhist republic located in the European part of Russia. Its culture and customs have been influenced by neighboring states, but the Kalmyk people are in many ways original. In many ways the sights of Kalmykia are associated with Buddhist traditions. Pagodas and stupas in Elista are a direct proof of that. Religious objects were often built with the direct participation of co-religionists from other countries, which gives them even more authenticity. Of some natural phenomena, the locals have staged festivals. For example, the blooming of the tulip fields is turned into a multi-day festival in April. Kalmyks also cherish their peculiarities: saigas, lotuses and other beauties.
The most interesting and beautiful places in Kalmykia
List, photos with names and descriptions of popular sights!
Golden Shrine of the Buddha Shakyamuni
The biggest Buddhist temple in Kalmykia. Erected in Elista and consecrated in 2005. Inside the temple is a statue of Buddha in the height of 10 meters. Entrances are on all sides of the world. The monastery is surrounded by a fence, it is built in 108 stupas in white. Also around built 17 pagodas, and in them – the statues of the great teachers of Buddhist monastery Nalanda. The main relics are the hair of Lama Tsongkapa and the clothes of Dalai Lama XIV.
Golden Gate Altn Bosch
Located in the center of Elista. The height of the construction is 15 meters. The arch has a golden color and stands on red columns. It was built in accordance with Buddhist traditions. The exterior is decorated with paintings by Nikolai Borisov. They depict important events from the history of Kalmykia. Newlyweds come here to take pictures. There is also a belief: the passage under the gate helps to purify oneself spiritually.
The construction of the complex with residential and office buildings was timed to coincide with the Chess Olympics in 1998. Erected near Elista. The area – more than 593 hectares. The most important building – the Palace of Chess. Subsequently, the area has received a special status. Here are held forums and other events of social and cultural orientation. In 2001, the Museum of Chess Glory appeared there.
The preserve “The Black Earth”.
It was founded in 1990. Most of it belongs to the Caspian lowlands. The area of the reserve is nearly 122 thousand hectares. It’s the only place in Russia where three types of landscape are studied at once: steppe, desert and semi-desert. It is divided into two clusters. In the first one they restore the saiga population, in the second one they protect rare waterfowl and near-water birds. It became a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1993.
It is located in the district of the same name. It is one of the three saiga breeding centers in the world. They are kept both individually in small enclosures and in herds in a fenced area of about 62 ha. In addition to this unique species of antelope other animals live in the breeding centre, e.g. sheep, horses and ostriches. The administrative buildings are in need of repair. Nearby there are sites for setting up tents.
The lake belongs to 3 subjects of Russia at once: Kalmyks, Rostov Oblast and Stavropol Krai. The name consists of two meanings. The first refers to the salty waters, the second to the winds, which are not uncommon here. The resulting rumble of the air currents has given rise to legends. The area is 344 km². The average depth is a little more than half a meter. There are several islands, the largest being Vodny and Ptichy.
Traditional for Kalmykia flower festival is held in April. Each year the date is slightly shifted due to weather conditions and organizational issues. The event takes place in Verkhneyashkulsky rural municipality in the tulip fields. The festival includes a variety of competitions, including archery, performances by folk ensembles, and rides on horses and camels.
This splendor lasts for about a month from mid-July to mid-August. However, each individual bud blooms for only a couple of days. The main places where you can watch the lotuses in Kalmykia is the Volga Delta. Here arrange field trips from Elista and other cities. It is not allowed to pick the flowers, and they wither right before your eyes if you break the ban.
Big Yashalta Lake
Located in the Yashalta district. The area is 40 km², the maximum depth is one and a half meters. The bowl of the lake is almost flat. Its main value in terms of tourism is the healing mud. In summer the water gets warm enough, which gives additional possibilities for the organization of recreational tourism here. But the potential of the lake is used poorly. There are a few more reservoirs of Manych lake group nearby.
The largest recreation area in Elista. It was founded in 1937. The area – 25 hectares. On its territory there are many sculptures, referring to the culture and traditions of the Kalmyk people. For example, the monument of Dzhangarchi Eelyan Ovla. There is also a natural monument – an oak grove, a spring “Bortkha”, as well as the arch of the Golden Gate “Altn Bosch”. The park is constantly being updated to make the rest of the citizens more comfortable.
Was consecrated in 1997 by Patriarch Alexy II. Orthodox churches in Elista have a complicated history. Some of them were burned down, while others were taken apart for building materials. Kazan Cathedral became a cathedral and attracted the congregation, despite its modest size. It is one-dome, topped with a cross. A small bell tower was built above the entrance. The main relic is an icon with a piece of relics of St. Innocent.
Stupa of Enlightenment
Built in 1999 in Elista. The original name of the stupa is translated as “doer of all prayers”. The territory is crossed by 8 ropes with multicolored prayer flags. Several relics are laid into the stupa. At the base is a prayer drum with 50 million mantras. Nearby is a pavilion with a statue of Mahakala Bernagchena. Attractions nearby include City Chess, Karma Kagyu, and the Nyingma School followers’ temple.
Seven Days Pagoda
Built in Elista in 2005. The name refers to the 7 Buddhas who came into our world. The spire on the top of the pagoda symbolizes the attainment of nirvana. At the base is a prayer drum with 75 million mantras embedded inside. It was presented to Kalmykia by the lamas of a tantric monastery in India. Besides, the drum is inscribed with symbols and mantras in several languages.
It was founded in 1996. Built near the village of Arshan, a few kilometers from Elista. Consecration was personally conducted by Dalai Lama XIV during his third visit to the country. When designing the temple was chosen Tibetan style. The height is about 20 meters. Near the entrance there are prayer drums. They must be rotated clockwise when entering and leaving the monastery. On the territory there are also 3 stupas and a lama house.
Monument “Khongor – The Scarlet Lion”
Installed in 1999, south of Elista, near the bypass road. The hero of the Kalmyk epic stands on a four-cornered 10-meter pedestal. In his hands there is a bow with several arrows. This symbolizes the strength of the bogatyr and his ability to cope with a superior number of enemies. The color is chosen to look like red-hot steel to convey the tension of the moment.
National Museum of Kalmykia
It was founded in Elista in 1921. The only museum in the country where the history of the Kalmyk people is fully covered. The collection is based on archaeological finds and ethnographic materials. The exposition includes samples of old Kalmyk art, objects used for Buddhist rites, sculptures of different years, and modern national paintings.
Monument to Ostap Bender
Installed in 1999 in Elista. It is associated with the Chess Olympiad that was held here the year before. The sculpture is cast in bronze. There are 12 chairs around the place, and in front of each chair is a table. You can play a simultaneous session with 12 opponents at once if you want. The choice of the place for the statue of Ostap is not accidental, because at the age of 15 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was the head of the Kalmyk chess team.
B. Basangov Drama Theatre
It opened in Elista in 1936. During the World War II many actors were drafted to the front, or worked in the rear. Deportation also affected the company. In 1959 the performances in the city started to please the audience again. Today, the theater puts on plays based on the works of Kalmyk authors, along with classics. The theater hosts other companies on its stage and actively tours.
Museum of Oirat-Mongol nomadic culture
The first interactive museum in Elista. It is located in a yurt and offers its guests a wide program. In addition to the traditional story of the peoples of the region, the history of nomads and their traditions, you can join the culture of the Oirat-Mongols. For example, you can try on their outfits, shoot an arrow, and play games of that time. The exposition includes musical instruments, household items and even a live wolf.
Tsagan Aman Khurul
Originally a Buddhist temple in the village of the same name appeared in 1798 and was the first of its kind in the Kalmyk steppe. However, after the revolution the khurul was destroyed. In the early 90s of the last century it was decided to rebuild the temple near the house where Lama Tugmud-gavji lived. A two-meter statue of Shakyamuni Buddha as well as sculptures made by Nepalese craftsmen were installed inside. Nearby is a pagoda with a golden roof.
Located in the north of the republic and is part of the Sarpin Lake System. The name is translated as “descended”. This may be a reference to the fact that the lake has a negative elevation relative to sea level. The second option is a “white lake” at the bottom of which salt crystals are clearly visible when the lake dries out. The area is 23.5 km². Average depth is about a meter. The water is not suitable for economic activities.
Monument The Golden Horseman
Opened in Elista in 2007. Dedicated to the national epic “Dzhangar”. The monument itself is 15 meters high and is located on a wide stele – the hero riding a horse with a banner and a bow in his hands. The monument is covered with gold leaf and symbolizes the valor and bravery of the Kalmyk people. To the left of the rider flies an eagle. Together they protect the city from adversity, patrolling the sky over the Kalmyk capital.
The Temple of the Great Victory
Built in the village of Bolshoi Tsaryn in the early years of the XXI century. Different masters worked on the interior and exterior decoration. The height of the khurul is 18 meters. The central part and the largest area is occupied by the hall for prayers. There are rooms for the monks and a study for the lama. Relics: statues of Shakyamuni Buddha and Medicine Buddha, Ganjur presented by Dalai Lama XIV, a collection of Buddhist tekkas and sacred texts.
Lonely Poplar Tree with a Cascade of Springs
The nature monument was listed in 1981. The poplar itself was planted by a Buddhist monk in 1846. The height of the tree is 15 m and its diameter is 1.5 m. On the land around the poplar there are outlets of mineral and fresh springs with medicinal properties. The area is significant for the followers of Buddhism. In 2013, a sanctuary was built here, a stupa was built and eight stone white pedestals were erected.
Memorial complex “Exodus and Return”
Installed in Elista in 1996. The author is Ernst Neizvestny. It was unveiled to commemorate the events of 1943, when many Kalmyks were deported to Siberia. Memorial events are held annually near the monument on December 28. The ascent to the complex is designed to replicate the Buddhist rite of circumambulation of the temple. The composition consists of the monument itself, a railroad car and a plaque.