Baikal climate and wildlife
If you think that Baikal lake is quite a cold place because of its Siberian location you might be surprised to find out that you are wrong. Owing to the influence of large Lake Baikal in Siberia water masses Baikal’s climate is similar to that one of the sea’s. Winter at Lake Baikal is milder and the summers are cooler than in the rest of Siberia. In winter on the coast and in the surrounding mountains there is more snow and low winter temperatures are easily survived because of the dry air. The beauty of Lake Baikal in winter does not give way to in summer time – its ice kingdom looks charming owing to its fantastic hummocks, it attracts by the power of a clear dark ice. In the summer the gulfs and bays are heated to a comfortable temperature, and recreation at Baikal allows you to enjoy swimming in the clear refreshing water.
By the number of sunny days per year Baikal region surpasses the southern regions of Russia. On the west coast near Goloustnoye region a record number of the sun time is recorded – 2500 hours. On the island Olkhon – the largest island in Lake Baikal – 317 sunny days a year.
Baikal wildlife: Lake Baikal is rich in biodiversity. It hosts 1,085 species of plants and 1,550 species and varieties of animals. More than 80% of the animals are endemic. The Baikal Seal or Nerpa is found throughout Lake Baikal.It is one of only three entirely freshwater seal populations in the world, the other two being subspecies of Ringed Seal. Perhaps the most important local species is the omul, a smallish endemic salmon. It is caught, smoked and then sold widely in markets around the lake.
King among all lakes
Lake Baikal is worth seeing at least once in a life time. It is a unique lake of our planet. Lake Baikal is a King among all other lakes of our Planet: it is the deepest, the oldest, the clearest, the cleanest, it has the highest level of biodiversity, the largest volume of fresh water in the world, and home to flora and fauna that is mostly endemic. For this reason the Baikal is on the World Natural Heritage List of UNESCO.
At 1,642 meters (5,387 ft), Lake Baikal is the deepest and among the clearest of all lakes in the world. Similarly to Lake Tanganyika, Lake Baikal was formed as an ancient rift valley, having the typical long crescent shape with a surface area of 31,722 km2/12,248 sq mi, less than that of Lake Superior or Lake Victoria.
Baikal is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals, two thirds of which can be found nowhere else in the world and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia, between Irkutsk Oblast to the northwest and the Buryat Republic to the southeast, it is the most voluminous freshwater lake in the world, containing roughly 20% of the world’s unfrozen surface fresh water.
Lake Baikal offers a great variety of recreation for any type of traveler, any kind of season and any kind of preferences. In summer time you can find the following ways of how to spend your holidays: Baikal cruise tours, horseback riding, river rafting, trekking and mountaineering, tours on helicopters, kiting, speleology tours, religious-ethnographic tourism, cultural routes, balneo and recreation tours, Baikal diving, cycling routes, fishing; Winter time does not give way to summer: New Year and Christmas celebration at Baikal, ice diving, skating, ice fishing, dog sledding, rafting on the ice-cake, skiing and snowboarding.
Buddhism at Baikal Lake
Buddhism is very popular in Tibet, Myanmar, Thailand, Sri-Lanka, Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Korea, China and Japan. In the territory of Russia Buddhism was spread from Caucasia to Sakhalin. Today it’s the official religion of Buryatia, Tuva and Kalmyk steppe.
In Zabaikalye Buddhism comes in 18-19 centuries (one of the opinions is nomads bring it). With Buddhism in the territory of Buryatia spread the results of Tibet and Mongolian cultures. Wes invented Tibet medicine schools. In 1741 Empress Elisabeth Petrovna make an edict by which in Buryatia was accepted the lamaists faith and proved 11 datsans. The spreading of the Lamaism become a cause of destroying the official religion of buryats – shamanism. Gods which was accepted by buryats was equated by Buddha Gods. Shamans were called in different, Tibet type. But after October revolution become a fight against Buddhism. Big number of dotsans was closed. Slow recovering of them starts in 50th years of the past century. In our days in many regions of Buryatia is continue the building of a new dotsans.
The center of Russian Buddhism is the Buddhist Temple – Datsan – located near Ulan-Ude city (near Lake Baikal). On our site you will find a lot of offers and tours that will allow you to see Russian Buddhism traditions, culture and places of interest.
Shamanism at Baikal Lake
Shamanism is one of the oldest religious traditions of the mankind, which preceded other world religions. Shamanism, as such, is considered to be primarily Siberian and Central Asian religion. Central and Northern Asia is regarded as shamans’ homeland, and the sacred place for them is Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal. In the 12-13th centuries in times of Chingiskhan’s khanate it sheltered Mongolian and later Buryat shamans from Buddhist lamas persecution. The sacred status of the Olkhon Island is officially admitted by the shamans of the Buryat Republic at the close of the 20th century. The Buryats confessed shamanism ingenuously even though they have preserved it only on the western shore of Baikal. Under the influence of Mongolians the people of the eastern shore converted to Buddhism.
Archaeologists have come to a conclusion that shaman ceremonials concerned with worship to spirits, ancestry, spirits of the Heaven and the Earth were practiced in Siberia as far back as the late Stone Age and the Bronze Age. It’s considered that shamanism was formed at a certain stage of the reflection of the world when the image of the Universe had become so significant in people’s mind that only very gifted people could gain the understanding of it. The requirement in a mediator between the society and the mythical world arose. Shaman has become this mediator.
Buryat shamans are the main keepers of oral epic works. And though shamans perform an ecstatic dance in a yurta with great number of spectators, in the limited space, wearing dresses containing over 15 kg of iron in the form of pendants and different other things, they never hit people sitting around. During the trance the shaman sometimes rushes here and there with closed eyes, however he always finds the subjects he needs. This amazing ability of controlling even ecstatic movements proves the excellent nervous constitution of these people.
«The shaman is simply serving his tribe, its egregore and its spirit, which would perish here without a shaman. This is why the spirits give him power. There is no need for a shaman where a civilization exists; this power and help is only given in order for tribes to survive» (‘After Death’, http://newcenturybooks.com/after-death/).