Olkhon

The island of Olkhon in the biggest and the most interesting island of Baikal. Its length 71 kilometers, its with is up to 12kilometers, with a square mass of 730 square kilometers. With the north – western shore of the lake makes a shallow – water Strait Maloe Sea.

Strait Olkhonskie Vorota (Gate). Not far from the outer side of Olkhon the deepest spot of Baikal (1637 meters) is located.

All the variety of Baikal,s nature is introduced on Olkhon – there are steppe areas with deep and warm in the summer time bays, almost “Baltic” sand dunes and beaches, mixed deciduous forests with relic fir – groves and severe marble rocks, covered with thick red lichen.

There are 8 settlements on the island and the two biggest ones are Khuzhir and Kharantzy. Most of the are located in the western, steppe area of the island. Only Uzury, a small scientific – researching settlement is situated in the northern part of the island.

The population – Russians and Buryats, mostly fishermen. In summer time they go to “the Sea” (the natives call lake Baikal “the Sea Baikal”) by boats, in winter, when Baikal freezes and the ice can be up to 1,5 meters thick, they have to go to ice and make ice – holes for fishing.


Al most the whole territory of the island is declared a natural monument, but in fact rules of staying are not regulated. It is possible to get on the island by a car – ferry, with functions during the whole day in summer time. Never the less, in high season it may take several hours to get there.

According to Buryat legends and myth, Olkhon is a place of Staying of severe spirits of Baikal. Khoto – Babai – Khan, who had been sent by highest Gods, descended on Olkhon from Heaven. His son, Khubuu – Noyon – khan lives here in the image of white – headed golden eagle. It is believed that he was the first shaman on the island. One of the legends says that the tomb of Genghis – Khan is located somewhere on the island.

The island of Olkhon is considered to be a spiritual center among shamanists of northern part of Syberia. If you walk along Cape Burkhan (Rock Shamanka), you can see ribbons on the trees – this is a “burkhan” – a place for worshipping the spirits.

Native people believe that in the cave of Rock Shamanka a spirit and the master of Olkhon, Ezhin, or Burkhan, lives.

The mountain Izimei (second name Zhima), the highest point of the island (1276 meters) is also believed to be a sacred place among Buryats. It is said that some where at the foot of the mountain, an immortal bear is chained.

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