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Okinsky district

Source:  Tourist Buryatia. - 2009. - . 45-47.

Okinsky district, the farthest and the most mountainous district of Buryatia was called "Tibet in miniature" by S.V.Obruchev. One can see sharp peaks covered with snow and everlasting icy peak — Munku-Sardyk (3491 m). You can see the peak of Topographers rising in the west.

The settlement of this mountainous district started in the beginning of the 18th century when five Buryat families settled here. Later they got mixed with Soyots. At present their descendants live in these places.

The population is mostly occupied with cattle breeding. They don"t deal with farming in mountainous regions. The development of the district is based on deposits of mineral resources. Deposits of graphite were found in Botogol in the middle of the 19th century. A French businessman Aliber built a graphite mine, driving up roads, had his own residence in these places. They found high quality asbestos-khrisotil not far from lake llchir. At the same time they found deposits

of gold on the banks of the Oka and Kitoy rivers. But the most famous finding of that time was white, blue and green nefritis . All the difficulties were caused by absence of roads. They started to build the railway road from the settlement of Mondy to Orlik, but there is still no any way out to Transsiberian railway.

Not far from Mondy on the borderline with Mongolia Sayanskaya Solar observatory of Solar-Earth Physics Institute of Siberian Department of Russian Academy of Science. The observatory was founded in 1962. There established powerful telescopes, through which they observe solar crowns and provide regular automatic measurements of cosmic rays, they also investigate the degree of atmospheric pollution considering it as local model of the purest air.

In the south-west in 2000 meters high direction there stretches a broad valley surrounded by a chain of lakes. The largest among them is lake llchir (7 km in length and 500 m broad). The name Oka comes from buryat word "aha" which means "elder", it's the largest river flowing down from the Western Sayans into the Angara. Soyots, the natives of the river's basin, call it Ok-hem meaning "an arrow-river". One can see herds of yaks-sarlyks with long hair and big horns in the river's basin.

The settlement of Orlik — the center of Okinskydistrict stretches along the right bank of Orlik river forseveral kilometers. Not far from the settlement in the forest they built datsan (Duddhist temple). In 15 km down the Oka river there situated the settlement of  Huzhir inhabited by Buryats (about 75 families). From here one can travel to deserted corners of the   Western Sayans, to extinct volcanoes. For example, Kropotkin volcano (110 m high above                    the    lava field, its crater's diameter is 210 m, depthof its crater is 60 m, the bottoms diameter – 26 m) was called after the outstanding traveler, researchtr of Western Siberia P.. Kropotkin (1842-1921). Peretolchin volcano (about 110 m high, the crater's diameter — 140 m, the depth 30 m).  Geologist A. Peretolchin died tragically in 1913 when investigating one of the volcanoes. These two volcanoes are situated in the valley 3 km far from each other. Their eruption took place afew thousand years ago, now they are considered to be dead. The lava fields in the Zhom-Bolok river basin in some 45 km far from Orlik are also ol interest. The waterfall Zhom-Bolok falls down the rock (20 m high) into the round hole with 40m diameter. The waterfall gets frozen in winter and looks like a huge icy stalagmite which is preserved till May.

Shumak's springs include more than 110 springs of different value and their temperature varies from 10 to 25 degrees above zero. Thermal carbonic acid waters of Shumak containing radon are compared with the waters of Pyatigorsk "Tshaltubo" in the Caucuses, Belokuriha in the Altays and Yamkuna in Chitinskaya oblast. Shumak's waters are recommended to cure diabetes, heart diseases, nervous system disorders, chronic diseases of the respiratory tracts, the digestive system diseases, the liver and bilious tracts.

In the past the Shumak river was called Dmitrovka after an escaped convict Dmitriy Demin who had found "gold in the rock next to the waterfall". Later a gold dealer Kuznetsov from Irkutsk started mining business there but died under strange circumstances. The third expedition was organized by Novikov who also died. The golden mine disappeared and all the following expeditions couldn't find it.

The inhabitants of Okinsky district are proud of their native land and call it the land of Geser, his "toonto nutag"— Motherland. The heroic deeds of this epic character are described in the famous epos "Abay Geser Bogdo-khan". According to the legend he fought against his enemy Gal-Dulme-khan in these very lands. In 1995 the 1000-s anniversary of "Geser" was celebrated in Buryatia.

The local natural sights took their names from numerous legends. On the top of the sacred mountain Khan-Ulay there lies a flat 20 meters long stone called "Geser's sword". There is a lonely rock Turag-Shuluun ("Giant-stone") or Geser's saddle nearby Huzhir settlement on the top of the mountain. They established Geser's praying house in honor of 1000-s anniversary of "Geseriada" at the entrance to Huzhir.


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