Letter from Ulan-Ude (Buryatia, Siberia)

“The Rinpoche Bagsha temple crackled with the deep murmur of Buddhist prayer. Under the warm gaze of a golden cross-legged Buddha, eight monks in crimson robes sat at a low table in the centre of the room, ethereal chants bursting from their throats. A bell tinkled. During the final prayer the congregation, squeezed together on benches close to the monks, picked up parcels of food and waved them in front of themselves in clockwise circles. The bell tinkled one last time.  

And with that, the hundred Russians put on their hats and coats, and came outside to where six marshrutka buses were waiting. The driver took their 20 roubles before taking them down the hill to Soviet Square. So begins a Sunday evening in Ulan-Ude, in Eastern Siberia’s Buddhist republic of Buryatia“.

I wrote about my journey to the town of Ulan-Ude for the media project Russia Beyond. Read the story to learn about a place where Russia meets Mongolia, where the villages are guarded by tigers and wolves, and where the most famous resident weighs 42 tons. 


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