The majority of religious people in Russia are Christians and most of them are Orthodox. But in such a large country there are regions where majority of religious population are Buddhists. Buddhism came to these lands long ago and already in the middle of the 18th century it was acknowledged as one of the official religions in Russian empire. After the end of the Soviet period Buddhism got a second birth and is now prospering in some regions. The Buddhist majority is found in the Republic of Kalmykia close to the Caspian Sea and in the Eastern Siberia, in the Republics of Buryatia and Tuva. During the past decades small Buddhist minorities developed in Moscow, St.Petersburg and some other cities.
This is a trip for people interested in Buddhism, and as well showing the other side of Russia, its vastness, different lifestyles and religions. During this trip we visit the most important Buddhist places in Russia, meeting local people and talking about Buddhism, how and when it appeared here and survived through Soviet times, what is going on nowadays and many other interesting things.
St.Petersburg pleases us with the northernmost Buddhist temple Datsan Gunzechoinei built in early 20 century. Traveling further to the south we stop at Elista, the capital of Kalmykian Republic which nowadays claims that it is the European center of Buddhism. And besides that the Buddhist religion is rising here again, there are 2 largest newly built Buddhist temples in Europe. Kalmykian people are nice and friendly. Moving to the East into Siberia gives a different experience. Admiring the beauty of Baikal, the world’s deepest lake, we visit Olkhon island, the old Buddhist and shamanic center and have a boat trip to the island of Ogoi where Buddhist Stupa was erected in 2005. The next stop in Republic of Tuva surprises with a mixture of Buddhism and shamanism and is an interesting place to see. The world famous local throat singers will definitely impress anyone with their skills. Continue to Buryatan Republic, the most Buddhits region in Siberia and maybe in Russia. The main attraction here is Ivolginsky Datsan, the residence of Pandito Hambo-Lama, located near Ulan-Ude. Finishing the trip in Monglolia adds more Buddhist sites to visit and explore.
The trip is not only devoted to Buddhism, as it is almost impossible in Russia. It opens you a vast country that has different people, different religions, rich history and beautiful nature.