To the south of it there is Inkino, a small village at the multiple branches of the delta of River Selenga. It is well-known due to the Inkinsk landslid, the land which was moved tens meters to the Baikal a few centuries ago. I can suppose that these geological shifts made the Yakut leave this territory. During the earthquake in 1861 it sank together with trees. Today passing by this village it is surprising to see a large depression between its upper and lower parts – a ravine with round off banks. Those who don’t know the peculiarities of the locality wonder why old village architects projected the street location so unsuccessfully.
Baikalo-Kudara is one of the oldest Pribaikalsk villages, the population of which is mostly Russian. The village has a rich, more than 300 year old history. At the end of the 18th century a fair trade was held there, at the Baikal-sea in Kudarinskaya village, where from December, 15 till January, 1 merchants arrived to sell and exchange cloth for furs”. Kudara was also very convenient for exile and settling of different violators of the Russian laws; important events took place there during the revolution and civil war.
Close to Kudara native people have always lived. The Kudarinskaya steppe is supposed to have been inhabited by small Buryat clans long before the arrival of Russians. I.A. Asalkhanov in his article “About the Common Right of the Kudara Buryat” writes: “the Kudara Buryat come from behind the Baikal, they settled in small uluses in the Selenga delta along Rivers Kharauz and Bukhan and formed four clans: Abzaevsky, first and second Chernorudskie and a collecting one. The first three ones mostly belonged to the tribe of the Ekhirit, and the collecting one – to the clan of the Bulagat and Ekhirit.
When the Russian began to build stockade towns and settle in Transbaikalia the stream of Buryat migrants from behind the Baikal and Mongolia intensified. Transbaikalia tribes considered it better to take out Russian citizenship rather than to depend upon Mongolian khans, for there were intestine wars among them at that time. A lot of new-comers settled in the Kudarinskaya steppe that was rich in feed for cattle all the year round. It’s interesting to notice that the Tarasinsk shamans (now the Bokhansk district of the Irkutsk Oblast) utter during their rituals: “the Olkhon surrounded with water, the Kudara surrounded with birches”. This phrase emphasizes the territory magnitude occupied by the Buryat of the Gotolsky clan. Some of them first moved to the western Pribaikalye (Olkhon and Priolkhonye), and then – to the southern shore of the Baikal to the Kudarinskaya steppe. The coastal area of the Baikal, the Selenga delta, and small rivers flowing across the steppe were rich in fish and waterfowl; the taiga was rich in ungulates and fur-bearing animals. The Buryat said that in the Kudarinskaya steppe it was possible to get firewood without an axe and meat without a knife. Some uluses such as Adonovsky, Botoevsky, Olzonovsky, Hamnaevsky and others were named after the Buryat clans that came to the Lower Selenga in the middle of the XVIIth century.
Many Russian villages springing up at the Kudarinskaya steppe or next to it were named after the people who first cultivated local arable lands, for example, Dubinino, Inkino, Shergino, Pashino, Romanovo, Bryansk, Tarakanovka. Some villages were called by the names of the local rivers: the Kabansk, Sukhaya, Timlyuy, Kharaus. The settlements and villages that were set up on the monastic lands got their names after either that monasteries or orthodox feasts and saints such as Posolskoye, Kudara-Blagoveshchenskaya, Troitskoye, and etc.
One of the villages established by the newly-baptized foreigners that emerged shortly after the earthquake in the Saganskaya steppe was Korsakovo. The “Proceedings of Orthodox Mission” said that in 1868 on the left bank of River Kharaus a new settlement was started with the help of Jacob Berezovsky and honorary foreigner Nikolay Khamaganov. That settlement was suggested to be called Korsakovo in honor of the patron saint of mission Lieutenant-General Mikhail Semenovich Korsakov, who was the Governor-general of the Eastern Siberia at that period (1861 – 1870). The village became a blessed haven for many Buryat people who suffered from the flood. Ten years later the new village besides official buildings, a missionary camp, a town council, a college and shops had 35 homesteads and 155 people living there.
Krasny Yar is a village that got its name thanks to a steep bank consisting of red clay. It is located at the place where the Selenga has its branching. Right here the main delta of the Selenga begins to form 60 km long and 20 – 25 km wide. This village is known mostly for the incident that happened in 1955 when about 30 people, the most part of them were children, burnt in the club thanks to the criminal negligence of the projectionist.
The Selenga delta is a low-lying rich in small lakes and marsh area with lots of canals – there are over 30 of them. The rich vegetation of shallow estuaries, good heating of the water, relative inaccessibility (one can get to some places only on a flat-bottomed boat pushing it on with a punt pole) created favorable conditions for the development of fine-mesh and noble fish, as well as for waterfowl birds. Every summer this fertile abode attracts 300 species of a wide variety of birds for transmigration and breeding; about a hundred of them remain on nesting; to save them the special Federal Reserve “Kabansky” was established in the delta. It is these places at the Baikal that were, apparently, first visited by ancient people. “The Book of Mountains and Seas”, one of the first collections of myths and legends of the peoples living in the south-eastern part of the Asian continent, describes the “Bakhr-Al-baka", a sea of horror that emerged from the underground crevices. It can be reached by boat if you go along the river four hundred meters to the north (most likely along the Selenga). It is the sea with surprisingly transparent and pleasant tasty water; the lake is so special for the huge flocks of hundreds of thousands of birds gathering here; their wings veil the sky and the sun; the birds also rear their chicks and shed feathers here.
Such giant birds nesting can be observed only in three areas of Lake Baikal: the deltas of the Selenga, the Upper Angara and the Barguzin, where between the Svyatoy Nos Peninsula, Barguzinsky and Chivyrkuisky Bays there is waterlogged lowland with several lakes.
One of the summer exotic jewelries of the Selenga delta is a rare for these places black stork (ciconia nigra). Nesting pairs of storks can be seen in some places close to the coastal delta: at Rivers Molka, Sukhaya, and Maly Dulan. Besides the outward beauty of feathering the bird is notable for its wingspread (about 2 meters); the weight of adult birds is about 3 kg, and the average life expectancy is about 10 years. An interesting fact about the delta of the Selenga is that it continues into the Baikal a distance about 10 km. That is why this area is shallow. When the Irkutsk reservoir was built the rising level of the Baikal led to the flood of many lowlands of the islands lying between the channels of the Selenga. In the late 50-s lots of hectares of island hay lands were lost, they used to feed a large number of collective farm and private cattle; in summer people stored up hay on the islands and then in winter brought it to the village over the ice. The past few years smoothed field flooding. The Selenga deposited new shoals and island territories in the place of small lakes and swamps, and now they are overgrown with rich grass, bushes and rush. In some places rush thickets remind bamboo thickets in the jungle: it will take you a lot off effort to pass through them. The vegetable thicket attracted a lot of animals to those dainty places. Along with the traditional muskrat, Siberian weasels and minks came here. Wild goats once running into the tall grasses and shrubs have rapidly bred, and today they are frequently kept down. All the information about the new life of the Selenga delta I saw myself in winter time and learnt from a great patriot and the Baikal lover, a senior expert in game keeping, my fellow villager G. Bykov who hopes that wild boars will soon appear on the island, and then this area will justify its name – Kabansky.
About fifteen kilometers from Baikal-Kudara on the bank of the Selenga there is the village of Fofonovo that is famous among archaeologists for its Neolithic burial ground. About a hundred burial places have been studied since the 20s of the last century, and each of them is somewhat peculiar. The bottom of some burial pits and remnants of people are covered with red powder – ocher. The tomb was filled with the things that are appropriate for afterlife; men were buried with weapons and fishing tackle; women – with tools for processing of hides and other items. An unusual and mysterious fact is that in one of the graves there were six headless skeletons of adult males. The corpses were deprived of the skulls that were found neither in the grave nor near it. I mentioned above that such burial places were found in the ancient settlements on the opposite shore of Lake Baikal and belonged to Kitoi culture. Archaeologists were very interested in when and who beheaded the people. Maybe they were beheaded in a bloody battle. And the enemy took the skulls of the killed away. Everything we know for certain is that four – two thousand years ago some disastrous event happened here; the victims of it were the six ancient inhabitants of the Baikal region. It is worth mentioning that in 2008 not far from here archeologists found a tomb of a killed at about the same time family: two parents and children, approximately of 5 and 8 years old.
On the other side of the river near the delta of the Selenga and the Baikal shores there Villages Shigaevo, Ranzhurovo, and Steppe Palace. Ranzhurovo Village gave shelter to the migrants from several Buryat uluses, who left lived-in places that had been situated close to the delta of the Selenga and along the Baikal shores because of the flood after the Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station started up. The village is named after the Buryat revolutionary, one of the founders of the Soviet power in Transbaikalia Ts. Ts. Ranzhurov; before this it was named Burulus, abbreviated from the phrase a Buryat ulus.
The origin of the name Steppe Palace is also very interesting. In the steppe near the village people grazed herds, mowed hay, and made temporary enclosures for cattle. The dwelling for workers was attached to them and all these facilities were called farmstead. This is the origin of steppe farmsteads that in time became the Steppe Palace village. However, there are other legends, giving a different explanation to the origin of this name. According to the Buryat legends, 2 – 3 km off the village there is sandy Cape Baraniy, where Genghis Khan headquarters was situated before the arrival of the Russian.
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