What is Barguzin?
Most people will say that it is a river flowing into the Barguzinsky Gulf in the vicinity of Lake Baikal. There is a settlement of the same name on the Barguzin River, which had the status of a town before the 20th century. Someone will recall that Barguzin is the name of a north-easterly Baikal wind. But there will be few people who know that it is also the short generic term for quite a large district that is adjacent to Lake Baikal. In other words, when you find yourself in any place within the Barguzinsky District of Buryatia, let it be the Ushkany Islands
or the Holy Nose peninsula
or the famous rock-garden on the Ina River or the bizarre rocks near the village of Suvo – it will be safe to say, ‘I am in Barguzin’ (the second syllable is stressed). It is common practice in Buryatia to use the names of landmarks for the districts of this vast republic which is capable of containing several European countries. So we have Tunka, Jida and Kurumkan.
Barguzin is not only a geographical locality but the special aura of sacred places that strikes you with awe as you find yourself nearby. Special homage is paid to curative spas called ‘arshans’ that always have sacral decorations about them. The branches of nearby trees are decorated with ribbons, small sculptures of local tutelar deities ‘burkhans’ are placed on special spots. People leave coins and small gifts as offerings to burkhans hoping to win their favour in return. That always works: after drinking some water from such a spring you feel bursting with energy and give mind to honourable intentions and have a craving for a comeback to this heavenly place.
The number of unique nature’s creations is so great here that Barguzin ought to be ranked among the wonders of Russia one day. Anyhow, with the development of tourist infrastructure in the Barguzinsky District this spectacular area has been enjoying much wider popularity. One of the marvels of Baikal fauna is without doubt the Baikal seal. Among the many seal species that are found in this world the Baikal seal is the most marvellous one. This is a nice likable creature that is ideally shaped like no other seal may be. They breed well in seal breeding grounds and are extremely capable of learning. There are seal breeding grounds in Irkutsk and the village of Listvyanka located at the head of the Angara River. Charming seals that were moved from the Ushkany Islands have become favourites with the visitors of the oceanarium in Sochi.
The origin of the ‘Ushkany’ name is interesting to know. ‘Ushkan’ means ‘hare’ in the Siberian dialect; the seal was named ‘Baikal hare’ or ‘ushkan’ by local professional hunters. In spite of the fact that a seal has no long ears like a hare does, it has another distinguishing attribute of a hare. That is an incredible speed of moving across the water. Not every motorboat can compete in speed with a sea ushkan. They are called ‘sea’ ushkans because people used to speak of Baikal as a sea rather than a lake in ancient times.
Welcome for a vacation to Baikal! Barguzin District