The most mysterious place of the north-western coast of Baikal is the Rytyi Cape which was formed by sandy rocky drifts of the river that has a beautiful feminine name Rita.
On the map “Baikal” edited by G.A. Zhilyakova (Irkutsk, 2004) the cape is called by analogy with the name of the river – the Rita Cape. O. Gusev in one of his books on the contrary calls this river by analogy with the name of the cape – the Rytaya; in Buryat it sounds as Khyr-Khushun. These approaches are not widely spread and supported by few. M.N. Melkheev makes grounds for the origin of the name explaining that there is “a deep gulf (dug out) … that is not possible to measure… it is a cave between the coastal mountains and the submerged Ridge Akademicheskii”. The latter interpretation is more likely to be correct though the previous one contributes to the mysterious atmosphere of the cape. The Buryat people treat Cape Rytyi the same way as the Shaman Stone – the rock on the Olkhon that they hold as sacred and are still afraid of. According to their ancient legends the ferocious deities, sons of the God Uhker (Uhker in Buryat means “bullock”,”horned cattle”), Azrehk and Almehk are their names, abode there. The bachelor brothers used to be heavenly beings or “dwellers of thunder” but then they began to guard this area. And the pagan idol itself lies in this earth. The natives still consider it a taboo to come there as it can lead to unfortunate consequences, such as illness or mental disorder. Women are even less welcome visitors to the cape. The entrance to the canyon of the Rita is especially dangerous and if cattle strayed into it people fear to drive it out as the cattle now is considered the deities’ property and the new owners won’t easily take leave of it.
The cape justifies its name – Rytyi – because along its bare steppe 2 kilometers long and 2.5 kilometers wide there are dry branches of the Rita resembling narrow dodging ravines directed toward Baikal. The steppe is dotted with different boulders. The area by the cape is rated as one of anomalous zones that are found all over the world and are notable for their geological activity and incomprehensible energy influencing people. On the Rytyi and in some other places of the Sacred Sea it is pretty often that watches break down, electrical appliances stop working, computer equipment malfunctions. It is in such places that one can see unidentified flying objects (UFO), cigar-shaped objects, groups of shining spheres flying out of the water, etc. And ufologists from Irkutsk confirm such an activity in the area by Cape Rytyi. The deepest place of Baikal is situated in 80 kilometers from the cape and some people even assume that at the bottom of it there is a UFO base. Some people try to explain the taboos of the natives with subconscious perception of the anomalous zone energy and its influence upon individuals. In such zones people often meet strange creatures (yeti, for instance); they sometimes go through state disorders that can be both positive and negative: hallucinations, hysteria, lapses of memory, prophetic dreams, etc.
According to eyewitness accounts visiting Cape Rytyi often caused illnesses. Residents of this place even say that time ago there lived people there, but they were snatched by premature death, so they have left that cursed place. One more deterrent event happened when once a member of an expedition fell ill after he had reached one of the mountain picks and had spent some time lying on the ground. He was ill for a year. Rumors are spread that the illness was caused by the excessively high activity of the radioactive background in the canyon of the Rita but geologists detected a permissible level of radioactivity.
The local people still keep up legends that in ancient times there were settlements on the cape. If we regard this fact in the framework of archaeological discoveries in the area we spoke about before there is nothing unreal in these memories. Up till now it is very easy to find relevant evidences of this fact: the remains of some square foundations, pyramidal heaps of stones, resembling ancient burial places, an artificial wall of stones more than one meter high that is situated on the steep slope on the left side of the Rita stretching on more than 800 meters from the Northeast to the Southwest. Perhaps, this wall was built by ancient people for battues though the latter was not widely spread in the Siberian taiga.
S. Volkov describes a very interesting legend about Cape Rytyi. This place was the boundary between arable lands, hunting areas and grasslands for cattle and horses. There was a long-standing rivalry for the possession of the cape lands, and once an argument about shamans’ strength flared up between the Evenki, Buryat and Yakuts families. One shaman and one hero from every family participated in a great battle. The shamans declared they were going to fight with lightnings, so they needed rocks with clefts and without trees, and retired toward the canyon. The heroes said that they needed plain land without plants to limber up, and remained on the plain of the cape. And the great battle began, and not for a day it lasted. There were no winners in this battle, no one won, no one was conquered. After the battle of the three shamans and three heroes the place became cursed. The battle woke up the spirit of Uhker-Nojon buried there and the mud flow fell upon the fertile valley mixing up the soil with huge stones…
Such is one of the myths about the mysterious, sacred and legendary cape of the Baikal. Such legends about coasts and waters, deities and inhabitants of the Sacred Sea are abandoned in the memory of the peoples. The stories and the legends do not only reconstruct unique and mystical images of the Baikal secret world but even today they call to stand on guard of its beauty, purity and greatness. I’d like to finish the brief description of this remarkable place with one interesting sketch: “On the very brink of the Cape Rytyi among the bare steppe there grows a lonely sacred group of poplars. Ten similar branchy poplars grow practically from one centre along the perimeter of one meter circle. In the last years in the middle of this circle there began to form a heap of stones which is an original prototype of future amulet against rare visitors and researchers of this mysterious place”.
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