Saturday, December 25, 2010

Beautiful khuvsgul lake - My Native Land

Lake Khuvsgul, with its Russian cousin Lake Baikal, lies along a relatively recent north-south faultline in the Earth's crust. Like Baikal, Khuvsgul is of enormous depth - the deepest lake in North Asia, up to 900 feet deep with a surface area of some 2700 square kilometres.

The Khuvsgul Aimag province, northernmost in Mongolia, is centred around its most distinguishing feature, the pristine Lake Khuvsgul. The province is also remarkable, however, in that it represents one of the most direct and contemporary convergences of the ancient shamanic and relatively modern (12th century) buddhist cultures of Mongolia.

Here in Khuvsgul can still be found large populations of people from the old tribes - Buryat, Uriankhai, Darkhad, and Tsaatan - the reindeer people. They have lived here since pre-history, their traditional ranges extending northwards into Siberia.

The Tsataan way of life shares much in common with that of the American Indians, who made the crossing to America from these parts across the Bering Strait, whilst it was frozen under the last Ice Age.

The Tsataan prefer to live in deerhide tepees rather than ger tents, and their totemic 'deerstones', carved with the deer that are said to guide the dead into the underworld, still dot the Khuvsgul landscape

Winter around Khuvsgul lake

Winter finds the lake under more than a meter of ice, though it still teems with fish species. The surrounding countryside is a joy for the explorer - clean air, quiet glades in the taiga forest, sweeping mountainside, and the play of gentle sunlight on the waters of this lonely mere.