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Mysterious Altay: cradlehand of civilizations and plenty of tourist possibilities
February 2, 2010 02:01


Warrior from Pazyryk tumulus

Altay is one of the most enigmatic places in Russia and maybe in the world. It is a cradleland of ancient civilizations, which left their tumuli, stone statues with mysterious writings and signs. The nature is still wild and maiden there. There are two large national parks of Katunskiy and Altayskiy and multiple smaller nature reserves as well in Altay. The mountains and steppes of Altay draw attention of the artists, scientists and tourists every year, some of them return again and again. The tourist possibilities of Altay are really huge. The tourists are offered multiple types of services summer and winter alike, including horse or camel riding, rafting, trekking, ski and helicopter tours. The fans of alpinism, paragliders and speleologists will be also satisfied. The ethnic history and present of Altai is also very rich: this is the place where three great religions of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. Moreover, there is national Altay epos Maaday Kara having nothing to do with these ones, and tales, and legends.

Geographically, Altai is mountain system which is situated on the South of Siberia and in Central Asia. It is situated on the territory of three countries: Russia, China and Mongolia. The Russian part is introduced with two regions, Altay Territory with the capital in Barnaul and Altay Republic with the capital in Gorno-Altaisk.

Tourist strongholds of nature of Altay are represented with the following places:

1. Teletskoye Lake.
Sometimes they call it the younger brother of Baikal. Teletskoye Lake is one of the main and most famous places of interest of Altay. It is one of the largest lakes of the region. Its name issues from the ethnicon of Teleuts, one of the Altaic peoples. The aboriginal people call it Altyn-Kol, which means "The Golden Lake". According to the legend (there are plenty of legends tied with this lake), once there was a famine on Altay. One man had a massive gold, but even having wandered all the Altay with it he couldn’t buy anything. The rich pauper threw his gold into the lake, disappointed and hungry. And after that he dived by himself and died. Then they began calling the lake Altyn-Kol, the golden lake because of that.

 

The lake is situated in the mountains 436 meters above the sea level. Its square amounts to 223 square meters; the average width is about three kilometers, the length – about 80. Teletskoye Lake is on of the 15 deepest lakes in the world. The water in the lake is clear and very cold. In the summer its temperature reaches maximum 10 degrees Celsius. It is almost impossible to swim there. The river of Chulyshman flowing into the Teletskoye Lake gives it 70 per cent water. Other 30 are given by the brooks and small rivers. The only one river takes off from this lake, it is Biya.

Despite its popularity, Teletskoye Lake is not crowded with the tourists. All the tourist complexes, hostels and bases are situated on the northern bank of the lake. Most tourist routes of Altay begin here. This place is popular because of the waterfalls of Korby, Kishte and The Tretya Rechka Waterfalls. The bay of Kamenniy is also one of the main sights there. The southern bank of the lake is accessible by vessels.

2. Tumuli of Pazyryk

These tumuli are world famous, especially among the archaeologists. These tumuli at the Pazyryk urochishche are the tombs of the chieftains of some tribes of the Skyfian time (5th-2nd centuries B.C.). The tumuli are dug out, and the constructions of the burial chamber are exhibited next to the tumulus. The bodies of the people, buried in the Tumuli of Pazyryk were mummified. The horses (in some cases also mummified) and catafalque were also escorting them. The mummies were made very carefully: it was possible to observe the tattoos on the people’s bodies.

3.Waterfalls

Waterfalls of the Tretya Rechka (Third River)
Tretya Rechka is a small mountain stream not far from the Artybash settlement, flowing into Teletskoye Lake. Much of it is owed to waterfalls on it, beautiful sight of the mountains around and because they are relatively easy to reach. The excursion to Waterfalls of the Tretya Rechka is a traditional service for tourists holidaying next to Teletskoye Lake and around.

 

Waterfalls of the River Shinok
At the moment there are 8 waterfalls and one river rapids. Unique in their beauty, the waterfalls of the River Shinok draw hundreds of people from all the Russia and abroad every year. The centre of the Shinok River’s basin is a group of three waterfalls with water level differences of 10, 28 and 70 meters. The river of Shinok (in Turkic language it means abrupt, forbidding) flows mainly through a very picturesque ravine, with cedar forests growing on its slopes. The valley of Shinok River is a state nature reserve.

 

Korbu waterfall

They say that Korbu waterfall is the most picturesque one around the Teletskoye Lake. It is situated in 100 meters from the mouth of the river Bolshaya Korbu, flowing into Teletskoye Lake. This waterfall is rather noisy, so you can hear it long before seeing it. A path made of wooden planks leads you to the waterfall. It was constructed in order to save the vegetation in the circumstances of the hard tourist flow.

The water falls from the height of 12, 5 meters, forming a cloud of spray around it. A special viewing point is constructed for taking photos. Speaking of the visiting, Korbu waterfall is situated on the territory of Altayskiy nature reserve, so you should pay at the gate.

By the way, the deepest point of the bottom of the Teletskoye Lake (325 meters) is situated in front of the Korbu waterfall and the mouth of the river Bolshaya Korbu, in the centre of the lake. According to one of the Altaic legends, the golden sword of Khan Tele fell down in that place, and the lake appeared because of that.

 

Kamyshlinskiy waterfall

Kamyshlinskiy waterfall is situated on the left bank of the Katun River, between the mouth of the Sema River and the Tavdinskiye caves, in 200 meters from the Kamyshly River’s mouth. It is rather small, but very eye-catching. It is also one of the most popular tourist objects of Altai. You can visit is, traveling single, going by car to the Ust-Sema settlement, and then to the former children’s campus, where you would have to leave your car and after that walking, or with the guided excursions provided in the tourist centres situated on the Aya Lake, Chemal River and in the downstream of Katun River.

 

Chulchinskiy waterfall
Chulchinskuy waterfall, or Uchar, is the biggest cascading waterfall of Altay. The level difference is 160 meters, and it looks awesome. You would have to communicate with gesture, because the noise of the water falling drowns even the screaming of the person standing next to you.

Uchar is a young waterfall. It is supposed to appear 100-150 years ago because of a rockslide, having dammed the wild river of Chulcha.

This waterfall is rather difficult to get. First of all, you are to cross the river of Chulyshman. The waterman lives next to the place you need and he will row you across the river at a moderate charge. Then you should take a path, which leads you to the Chulchinskuy waterfall. It goes from the Chulyshman River along the other river, Chulchi, to the waterfall. The path is rather rugged, with the rocks are above, and wild river is below.

This place is worth-to-visit, although hard-to-get.

4. Caves


The cave of Denisova

The cave of Denisova is a layered cake consisting of more than 20 occupation layers, dating from the different epochs of the human evolution. The thickness of this is several meters. The cave is situated at an elevation of 600 meters above the sea level. The cave was called Denisova after anachorete Denis, lived in it in the second half of the 18th century. The Christian monks appeared here with the Russian colonization of the 17-18th centuries, liked the caves because it was like in the lives of the anachoretes of Palestine, while the landscapes of the central Russia were not so rich in the caves and deserts. The authentic name of the cave is also known: the Altais call it Ayu-Tash, the Altaic for the Bear’s Stone. According to a legend, a black shaman lived here. Once upon a time he has become angry with the local public and sent a heavy rain on the country, and it was raining for several years. The people have got upset and addressed themselves to the white shaman who solved their problem having rolled all the rains in a big clump turned them to a stone and hidden it in the cave. The black shaman was kicked away.

The scientists began examining the cave only in 1982; they came from the institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of Novosibirsk. They began a dig. And have made about 50000 (!) exiting finds. And the heavy rains have begun again. Well, I am joking. The age of the oldest artifacts amounts to 300 thousand years, 12 or 15 things refer to this time. The most part of them is in Novosibirsk.

The ceiling of the cave had a kind of window for lightning and fresh air. Moreover, it could play a role of a chimney, so the people lived here with a comfort.

By the way, the nearest settlement to the cave is called Cherny Anuy.


Tavdinskiye (Taldinskiye) caves

These caves are very popular among the speleologists, although the archaeological finds were also done here. They are situated on the bank of the Katun River, you can get there going over the bridge which leads to the tourist center of Biryuzovaya Katun.

The caves are called so because of the non-existent village of Tavda or Talda, which was situated somewhere about.

The total length of the rocks, full of the caves (there are about 30 caves) amounts to 5 kilometers. That is enough or even a little more. The caves have still some traces of that the people lived here. The cave of Bolshaya Tavdinskaya (sometimes it is called Girl’s tears) was an ancient sanctuary; some artifacts of the stone and bronze age seem to indicate it. Other ones were an accommodation for the people of other epochs, closer to us. They were hiding in the caves during the Civil war in the 20th century or they were the Old Believers, hiding from the authorities in the 18th century. The popularity has played a low-down trick with the caves: the tourists have seriously damaged them. But something has survived, for example, the Arc. It is an arc-looking karst formation, the rest of a cave or a tunnel. The span of this arch amounts to 13 meters, the rise of it – 5 meters.

Caryshskiye caves These caves are famous because of the finds of the prehistoric animals, like mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, bisons, fossil deer, cave hyena and some others… The caves forming this group have sonorous names like Strashnaya (Frightful), Hyena’s den, Yashchur etc.

5. Petroglyphs with space-ships and stony warrour of Kalbak-Tash

The area of Kalbak-Tash, famous with its numerous petroglyphs, is situated on the right bank of the Chuya River, between the settlements of Inya and Iodro. The rocks along the road over a length of 10 kilometers are covered with ancient pethroglyphs; there are about 3000 rock carvings, dated from the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages and 20 runic Old Turkic inscription. Some people believe that some of the petroglyphs represent the space-ships. Whatever they represent, they are huge and amazing. Others, representing animals and hunters are also interesting. One more attraction is situated in a couple kilometers from the rocks with petroglyphs. It is a stony statue representing a warrior clasping a sword in his hands. It was created some thousands years ago.

Find more about Altai....

Yulia Buzykina

Sources:
    www.sibaltay.ru
    altaika.narod.ru
    www.altaitravel.ru


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