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Published: January 28th 2014
Wooden Architecture Museum
The entrance, Sochi torch had visited already!
Another day and another exciting city was on its way - Irkutsk and Listvyanka village, the home of lake Baikal! We drove straight to Listvyanka upon arriving at Irkutsk. It was a quaint little village, 70 kms away from Irkutsk located on the shore of lake Baikal with a population of 5000. A lot of people in this part of the country believe in the Shamanic religion. These are Buryats, indigenous people (similar to Native Americans if you will) who believe that every thing has a spirit of its own. They don't have temples or churches built to worship, they pray to the sun and hence the east side is very important to them. We had planned to meet a Shaman the next day at the Shamanic cultural centre in another village.
I checked in to the 'chalet' and got ready to go to the wooden architecture museum. On the way over to the museum my guide Evan showed me the Shaman rock, which was a little bit of a disappointment. I was expecting it to be a tiny island whereas it was really only a rock popping out of the lake like a mini iceberg! People do argue about
Wooden Architecture Museum
Inside of a typical Russian house
this and some call the rock near Olkhon Island the Shaman's rock. The wooden architecture museum was home to some of the oldest houses of Russia. The oldest house built in 1620 was on display. The idea is to preserve these houses as they now form part of the Russian heritage. It was quite an interesting museum exhibiting the old way of life. After spending a few hours there we got back to the 'chalet'. As I had a couple of hours before my sauna session (yes! sauna!) I decided to walk along the lake and take a few pictures.
After spending 49 hours on the train, the idea of sauna sounded heavenly. After the very relaxing sauna session I had my dinner and got back to my room. Listvyanka was the most peaceful place I have ever been to and I just couldn't soak up the atmosphere enough! I realised I could have spent another day at Listvyanka but of course it was too late to change my plan so I left thinking of coming back in the next couple of years.
The next day we left Listvyanka to visit the Shaman. In the olden days Shaman
was the religious leader of the group who was knowledgable and held a very important position. Shaman was looked up to for his healing powers, ability to reach out to the spiritual world and getting rid of the bad spirits. We met Alexei, his family has had Shamans for the past 17 generations. We had a nice chat where he explained what their culture believes in and what their ideologies are. He then performed a ritual to wish me good luck for my future travels. He said the Shamanic people believe in 'Ooraksha' which means moving forward and never taking steps in the backward direction. Like a horse always moves forward we have to keep moving forward in life. He also said every person should have dreams and wishes if not, then he's a dead person! Upon asking if I had any questions I asked him about 'Eagle of Baikal', no points for guessing I wanted to know this due to its reference in the book 😊
He told me the story - hundreds of years ago when the first Shaman lived near lake Baikal with his son, he wanted to find out if there was anyone else living
in and around the area, so he transformed his son in to an Eagle and asked him to fly around Mongolia, China and India to look for civilisation. He made his son promise him that he would never eat or drink anything during his journey. As the son flew all over and was returning he thought of dipping his beak in the lake and quench his thirst. His father saw him drinking the water and fell on the ground crying. He said to him that he would never be able to transform him back to human. Since then whenever Shamans see an Eagle they bow in respect.
After leaving the cultural centre we drove back to Irkutsk city. I walked around the city centre for an hour and got back to my room that evening.
Irkutsk, located on the banks of the Angara river, was a city like any other. By now I could expect certain type of monuments and tourist sites in every Russian city, thanks to the KT (Knowledge Transfer😊 ) done by my guides. It was the same in Irkutsk, they had a war memorial, eternal flame, monument of the founder of the city, churches
and city admin building. Every major city in Russia had a Lenin street named after Vladimir Lenin (similar to M.G. Road in Indian cities!).
It had been almost a week since I had any Wi-Fi access so I was desperately in search of my fix! 😊 The day came to an end with a walk around the city centre and getting back to the room.
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