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Shaman cave on the Olkhon Island: Baikal Lake legends
August 30, 2010 16:12


Olkhon Island is usually called "heart of Baikal". It is situated in the centre of Baikal Lake and combines all the types of Baikal ecosystems, including taiga, rocky mountains and steppes. The local public, the Buryats, believes this place is a cacred one, and its sights, like Burkhan cape (or Shaman cape) with a Shaman cave are tied with such idea. Olkhon has long been a kind of Mecca for the shamanistic world of Siberia. Moreover, Olkhon is an unbelievable beautiful place, free of typical Siberian evil, spoiling the effect from outdoor leisure - mosquitoes and ticks.

Burkhan is an All-Father in the local religion, and he is still worshipped there. The visitors of Burkhan cape, Buryats and now the tourists as well leave coins, tobacco and milk as offering for this god and spirits. These spirits, called Ezhens keep the sacred place from the malevolent people, and Burkhan can read the people's souls like a book. By the way: the aliens are not allowed to climb the Shamanka Rock, and enter the cave, but you can see it. Initially the cave was a place for Shaman worship, later a Buddhist chapel was established there. The place is really unusual, the people tell about fit of energy, which can be experienced there, and the most gushing ones are sure, that the cave is a door to another worlds. The cape looks like two rocks of white marble, covered with red moss. The cave is a hole in one of them, and it is not clear, if it is hand-made, or result of erosion. 

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There are many legends about this cave, the Burkhan worship site. They are about mighty creatures who lived there. Some people say that Genghis Khan, conqueror of Asia, was buried here (although from the scientific point of view it is very doubtful). Not a bad choice, taking into account, that according to the legend I'm going to tell, the cave was a place, where the Master of Olkhon, lord of Mongols lived. His name was Gegen-burkhan. He was not an ordinary master, but a brother of Erlen-khan, the ruler of the underworld. And certainly he was not notable for kindness at all. Both brothers were terrifying the Mongol people, living on Olkhon.

One day Gegen-burkhan killed the husband of one young woman for irreverent look.

The young widow, sad for her husband's death began thinking how to save her people from the cruel ruler. And finally she decided to go to the mountains to Khan-Guta-babai, the sage and hermit, the only one person, renouncing Erlen-khan's power. He lived on the top of unapproachable mountain and never descended. Erlen-khan did not like it and sent warriors there. But nobody managed to climb, because the mountain did not let them. Stones fell on their heads and finally it was decided to leave Khan-Guta-babai alone.

The young woman came to his place without any troubles, having overcome all dangerous places, and no stone fell on her head. The sage listened to her attentively and promised to help. One night he descended on a cloud on the ground and listened to the souls of innocent victims, killed by a cruel ruler. The hermit saw, that the ground was sodden with their blood. He promised the souls that Gegen-burkhan won't be here and asked them to help him a little.

Next morning Khan-Guta-babai appeared near the ruler's cave. Angry Gegen-burkhan asked what did he want and the answer was: I want you to leave the Island. Because the people were on the hermit's site, they decided to settle such a dispute in a peaceful way, in a wrestle. But they were equal in power. So it was decided to read fortune. Both should take some ground in a cup and next morning one of them should turn red. If Gegen-burkhan's ground turns red, he leaves Olkhon, if Khan-Guta-babai's - he leaves the island. The winner stays and rules.
 

Ruler and hermit climbed into the Shaman cave. They filled cups with ground and retired to sleep. As the night fell, Erlen-khan sent spirits to help his brother, and exchanged the cups, as far as the ground in Gegen-burkhan's cup has turned red. But the souls of innocent people were stronger, and when the sun appeared, the red ground which stood next to Khan-Guta-babai became brown, but Erlen-khan's cup became red as a blood. In that moment both awoke. Surprisingly, but the wicked lord reconnized defeat. In the evening he told all his people to pack and go to bed. The dark spirits transported the Mongols over Baikal with all their things, horses and camels, and they woke up already on the new place. But some Mongols stayed on Olkhon, and the contemporary local public thinks they are their descendants. Only the spirit of Khan-Guta-babai's lives in the cave now, but this place is sacred, for Shamanists and even for Buddhists as well.

Visit of this place is included into many Baikal tourist services, you also can see it having come from Irkutsk by bus and ferry-boat. Irkutsk stays on the Trans-Siberian Railroad is availiable by train.

READ MORE ABOUT LAKE BAIKAL...

 


Yulia Buzykina
Sources:
aptravel.ru
spblp.ru
www.go-baikal.ru


Tags: Russian tourism Baikal Buryatia Olkhon  

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