The national park of Alkhanai
Гурулева Лариса Дмитриевна
I live in Chita Region. The capital of my region is Chita. It occupies a large territory – this area is as large as that of Italy and Great Britain taken together.
My region is very beautiful. There are lots of lakes, rivers, forests, mountains on its territory. A.P. Chekhov wrote in 1890 that on his way to Sakhalin he saw in Zabaikalye everything – the Caucasus, Switzerland and the valley of the Don river… In my view, the most unique place on the territory of the Chita region is the national park of Alkhanai. By the way, it is the youngest national park in Russia. It was founded on the 15 of May in 1999 after a scientific expedition in 1996. Then Russian Government issued a special decree to protect its flora and fauna.
The whole area is almost 1382 km2. There are many forests, pastures, ploughed fields. But the centre of this national park is the mountain called Alkhanai. It is a natural monument, the heart of this wonderful place.
There are two interesting legends about the origin of the place’s name itself. One of such legends is about Bachzhin-Khatum – a Buryat princess. According to the legend, she married one of the Mongolian khans but his mother hated the young woman and Bachzhin had to run away to Zabaikalye. Unfortunately, she was caught by her followers on the top of the highest mountain and killed there. Before death she cried “Alkhanai” which meant “I’m being killed”. That’s why the mountain got its name. And a stream running down from the mountain symbolizes blood and tears of the killed princess. One more legend connected with the name of the mountain is a legend about a great monster that lived there and ate people who turned out to be in those places. This monster had a magic necklace which gave health and immortality to its master.
Once a young warrior decided to steal the necklace to save his dying parents. He managed to deceive the monster, made him fall asleep and dug a big pit near him. After awaking the monster fell down into the pit and the warrior covered it with stones. Since that time the place has been called Alkhanai – that means a monster and became a necklace itself giving health to people.
Alkhanai differs from others national parks because it has its own natural and cultural religious complex. In the summer of 1991 these unique places were visited by the head of Buddhism priesthood, Dalai-Lama XIV. In honour of his arrival a special Buddhist monument was erected, called Stupa. One of the most important objects in this cultural complex is the top of the Alkhanai. It looks like a flat platform of a round shape. When we visit these holy places, we have a great opportunity to feel a part of the ancient Buddhism philosophy. This religion is particular because of its attitude to nature. Every year people are able to take part in a mysterious ceremony – goroo – when they are going round all holy places moving clock wisely. There are two ways – a small and a big goroo. The whole way round a big goroo can take four or five days. Besides, every year mostly in summer all Buddhism believers take part in public prayer.
The interest to this incredibly beautiful and magical place is increasingly growing. The Alkhanai is not only a religious monument valued by the pilgrims. Nowadays it has become popular with lots of tourists. The water from its springs is considered to be healing. About two thousand people visit the national park per day in summer. During the summer period (July – the middle of September) it is visited by 30 thousand people on average. The Government is going to build a recreation centre there. The national park is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Service of supervision in the sphere of using natural resources. More than 10 scientifically walking tours and itineraries are developed in the Alkhanai.
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