The village Bolshoye Goloustnoye is located not far from the mouth of the Goloustnaya River and is one of the oldest settlements at Lake Baikal. Since the beginning of the 19th century till the middle of the 20th century in the village and near it along with the Buryats there lived a lot of the Evenki, but the various twists and turns of life reduced the number of the aboriginal people there. In due time, both the village which was located in a small steppe near the lake and the steppe were called "Podkamen", as they were surrounded by low mountains of the Primorsky Ridge. For a long time the village was the place where people were passing to another side from. There is a church in the village, and a lot of legends are related to its attributes. In the 18th century there was an icon of St. Nicholas there, but at that time it was a chapel, not a church, which was established in 1709. In time it became a tradition to bring it to the Baikal Ambassadorial Monastery located on the opposite shore of the Baikal. And from here people solemnly carried it to the Zabaikalsky Krai to Nerchinsk. The nomadic Buryats actively took part in this solemn procession of the icon for reasons about which we will speak later on.
Not long ago (in 2006) in Irkutsk newspapers one could find a sensation about the sculpture of St. Nicholas. From local people journalists got to know that this sculpture appeared in the church for four times. For the first time the "Wooden" Old Man appeared in the church in the 17th century, then the sculpture disappeared and reappeared two times later on, providing people with miraculous deeds: healed sick people, saved fishermen, bestowed infertile pregnancies. In 1930s the church was destroyed, but in 2004 the sculpture was put back in the restored church.
Bolshoye Goloustnoye stands out not only by its symbolic icons and sculptures. In 2002 the mummy of a young girl whose body is about 60 cm tall was found near the village. First the mummy was kept by the Irkutsk artist V. Nesynov, and then it was transferred to the museum of Taltzy. The girl’s body was in quite a good condition even after several decades after it was found, and sometimes it is called “the Baikal princess”. The Buryat shamans offer the public to return the mummy to "its" place, i.e., to the grotto near Goloustnoye, keeping up all the rites and rituals in order to calm down the soul of "the princess", otherwise her anger could bring big troubles. It is with this anger that the shamans associate the series of tragic events that took place on the land of Irkutsk.
In Goloustnoye there was an attempt to open the first Baikal Research Station. It was made in 1896 when with the help of the merchant Pyatidesyatnikov whose son with his university friend was in the political exile in Goloustnoye. The attempt was a success, but a year later, when the son’s exile ended, Pyatidesyatnikov stopped financing the station, and passed it to the East Siberian Geographical Society which did not have sufficient funds to keep it.
An unexpected displacement of the centre of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) from Listvyanka to the village in 2007 could be called a modern "miracle" for Bolshoye Goloustnoye. This "gift of fate" could have been a starting point for residents and for the surrounding areas, which in many ways would have changed the people lifestyle and the landscapes of the coastal waters of the Sacred Sea. But there was not any miracle. The tragedy of 2009 carried away the life of the Governor of Irkutsk Oblast (as it was officially claimed, he was inspecting the SEZ on the helicopter), and also influenced his initiative. The center of the SEZ, first unofficially, then in a legitimate way started to move to the south of Lake Baikal – to the city of Baikalsk and to the Slyudyanskij District. And this is, in my opinion, a reasonable trend. Thus Goloustnoye has the surrounding areas protected.
In the north of the village Bolshoye Goloustnoye there are three capes with a unifying name: the Nizhniy, Sredniy and Verkhniy Homuty. This name is likely to be connected with the Evenki word homoty – “bear”. For the Evenks, a bear has always been the most honored sacred animal.
An extraordinary and mysterious phenomenon occurring in these places, as well as around Lake Baikal, is the mirages that arise because of special conditions of lower air layers and their correlation with the water surface of the lake. The inhabitants call this phenomenon golomenitsa and say that the essence of it is in the fact that “distant objects come closer and are seen clearer. They seem to be lifted. In golomenitsa one can see a thing which under everyday circumstances cannot be seen from this place. Thus, usually you cannot see Goloustnoye from Mysovaya, but sometimes you can even count the houses in it ... Golomenitsa is a “cleaning of troubles”, and takes place before the wind changes its direction”. And this is how the well-known Baikal researcher V.V. Lamakhin described such a miracle. It happened in September of 1957 at night when he was on a boat near the village of Goloustnoye: "Once at night I went out on the deck and saw a striking spectacle. In front of me, on a very close distance as if not more than one kilometer, a passenger train passed through as if in the air above the lake. In fact, at that moment the train was on the opposite shore of Lake Baikal, i.e. 50 km far away. The ghost train was absolutely silent. No wonder, it was impossible to hear noise or clatter of wheels in such a long distance. Black night and silence emphasized the mystery of the phenomenon. Strictly speaking, the train itself, i.e. the locomotive and the carriages was not visible. Only lit windows in a large rectangle were clearly differed. I could see silhouettes of people in some windows. Luminous windows were distributed into several groups. They were divided by broad dark intervals. It was possible to count down the number of carriages. The train that was passing me in silence in the black darkness on the air seemed to be a screech owl. Then it stopped for a few minutes. Apparently, it was station Boyarskaya. Then the air train went on to Tankhoy".
This description seems to be embellished, but it should be noted that the visions of this kind are quite regular here. I happened to come across such things on the other side of Lake Baikal in the Selenga Delta as well. In the early summer mornings when we had to sail from the coast in the Gulf of Proval, the islands of the delta, separated from this place by a few miles, seemed to hang very close above the morning mist. A.V. Tivanenko describes the similar picture observed in the region of the Ushkanji Islands. Once together with his companions he saw a parts of land raised like fantastic mirages on several hundred meters above the sea. In several seconds this amazing natural phenomenon manifested everything more clearly than one can observe with the help of binoculars.
The Peschanaya Bay is one of the most wonderful and well-known places in the Baikal. Mild, warm and “kind” sand here descends from the indented with clefts rocks right down to the shore. For a very long time quite amazing natural phenomenon was “stilted trees” – when pines rise by their roots high above sand, to be more precise, sand had been weathered from under them. The bay is lovingly protected from northerly and southerly winds by two rocky capes that have religious poetical names corresponding to their appearance – Bolshoi (“big”) and Maly (“small”) Kolokolnya (“belfry”). Tourists like to visit this paradisiacal place very much, and environmental load here is very high.
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