The best place to stay on a tour to Olkhon Island, Lake Baikal!

Legends and stories about Lake Baikal

On the origin of the Baikal

In the early days the old men told such stories about how the Baikal came to being. There is not too much of earth upon the Earth. Everybody knows that if you dig a hole a few sajens deep or even less you’ll find different things coming like sand, clay, stone and others. The deeper you dig a hole, the less earth, mostly you come across some stones and other things that you would not find upon the surface. Further deep in the very depth of the Earth there are only stones, then water comes. Various stones can be found deep in the ground. There is such a stone that if you just drop some water on if it begins as if to boil and gets broken. One can find a lot of such stone deep under the ground, much more than upon the surface. So the following thing happened a thousand years ago. Deep under the ground water and stone came together and began to boil. Where could the steam go? It went into different sides and removed the earth from its former place and it went around like a wave and shattered the whole ground. Thus the earth went wild deep down till water and steam struggled their way upwards and after all the water covered the low places. It coul not go any further because there were hills around, so this is how the Baikal emerged. It never becomes shallow because beneath there is the water supporting it and that water as they say is a relative to the Arctic ocean. Earlier the old men often told such a story: when a boat got broken in the Baikal, after wards its boards were found in the Arctic Ocean or when something sank in the Arctic, it was then found in the Baikal.

Depression in the Baikal

That depression was formed when my father was near by. He often told me about that and the whole village learned from him how and what had happened there. It is frightening not only to talk about that depression but even when you merely recall the happening it gives you pain. During those days many people became cripples for the rest of their life, when their hands or legs got fractured or many of them went crazy, lost everything and suffered in poverty and died quite helpless.       Where cold a poor man go? Nothing to live on, just lie down and die. When this all happened the faith in the God was shattered. It was found to be weaker than Nature. Those who said that everything depended on the God’s will now thought other wise. We, common folk began to understand that the mountains, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans had been created not on the God’s will but on the will of Nature which has enormous latent strength and while man is not strong enough it will do with him whatever it chooses do.       You’ll find relief in the God’s will when you yourself do not know what to do and when you are not aware of what is going on around you. After the Baikal depression the old men began to think that the Baikal itself originated like that depression. So our grandpas also said that because of fire and water columns amidst the hills the water flooded all the valleys and at that place the Baikal sea stood up. It is the truth that people believein.

How the island of Ol’khon appeared 

Not all is true what is said in tales. They said larlier that everything had been created by the God as it is written in the Holy script. Some believed in that, some did not. Popes were angry when people did not believe in that, cursed them, but that was no use: the curse is no smoke, it wouldn’t eat out one’s eyes. Take for instance our Ol’khon, it is called an island. Where did it come from? The God would hardly have been able to take it down from the sky. So it meant that it had not fallen down from the Heaven but it was Nature that made it.       When the Baikal emerged the whole peace around was covered with water and there was not a single island. Almost a million years passed, strong winds began to blow on the Baikal, they were so strong that the Baikal began as if to boil in a pot. The waves went as far as the bottom from where they drove stone and sand towards the shores. But the stones did not reach shores, they caught on the underwater rock. The waves had been working for many as year, they had been driving the stones and sand to that rock. And so a huge mountain, long and wide, was made up. Other waves washed up that mountain and made its surface even, leveled it off.       This was how the island of Ol’khon appeared. Old men say that there are years when Ol’khon is higher but sometimes it is low. This is because it stands on the rocks. When the rocks are washed out the island goes down a little, but when there is much water under the rocks it goes up. Butyats told that when they came to Ol’khon they saw for themselves how Ol’khon went up and down. At first they thought that it was due to the devil but later on they got convinced that it was the wind that did this all. Haw would you believe the popes that the island had been made by the God, surely you would not. If it had made the island then why had not be put it in the middle of the Baikal where there are no rocks? The popes keep silent, nothing is said about that in Holy scripts. Those who do not want to think a little say that the God created everything in a week, or perhaps that fooling about is of some profit to them.

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Following the legend, peoples in the Siberian lands appeared long time ago. At once they found that lands attractive owing to the rich forests and vast steppes. The only problem depressed them: there was no water at all. Once they met on their way an wayfarer that gave them an advice to not search for happiness from happiness. The people didn’t take into account his words and moved farther. They went round and round, got exhausted a lot, but managed to find no place where the gifts would be provided for them by God. Suddenly, they faced with that pilgrim one more time. Being extremely tired and furious they started yelling and insulting the old man. The sad wayfarer went up to the top of the neighbor mountain, took his heart out his burst and threw away into the valley. The heart burnt through the land depth, and pure and cold water poured in torrents from the gap formed there. The water turned out to be magically charming: everyone who drinks it will never forget that place named Baikal.

Till our days, when the ice blocks at the Baikal’s shore are enlightened by the sunset rays, it seems like these are the pieces of that wayfarer’s heart…

The Rich Baikal

In ancient time, the powerful Baikal was kind and marry. He had a beautiful daughter named Angara. He loved and cared her a lot. She was a picture of beauty, and it would be hard to find her match. She was lighter than the sky during the day, and the darker than the cloud in the evenings. All the people were admiring by her. Even the birds, flying through the Lake, went down close to the water but didn’t take the water. The old Baikal had no any suspicions about his daughter had already been in love with a young handsome Enisey long ago. Always covered with snow, he started high in the Sayans. Enisey layed out his way through the enormous stones, then spilled his waters about the vast steppe and flowed into the coldest sea in the world.

Once, at night, while the father was sleeping, Angara gathered all her waters and burst running as fast as possible to her beloved. Baikal woke up and furiously splashed with his waves. A terrible torment started. The mountains burst to tear, the forests laid down, the sky got black of grief, the animals seized with terror ran about the land, and the birds flew away to the sun, wile the fish escaped up to the bottom. The old Baikal couldn’t’t allow her only daughter running away. He hit the rock, broke off a big stone and threw it after escaping Angara.

The rock fell right on the beautiful girl’s throat. Then Angara implored, begged the rageful father’s pardon and asked for one drop of water. But powerful and furious Baikal replied that could give her only his tears…
Within hundred of years the Angara river flows with the Enisey like a tear-drop, and the Baikal has become horrible and sullen. The rock dropped after Angara people named “Shaman- Kamen’”. The locals believe the Baikal gives shelter to all the spirits – both evil and kind ones. For that reason they consider it to be sacred Lake.
People made rich sacrifices to the Baikal at that rock as they were frighten that he could take away the stone, and the water flooded all the land.

Nevertheless, all that happened long-long ago, and now people became more courageous and ceased being afraid of the Baikal…

Omul barren

This story happened long-long time ago. That time the Russians had already catching Omul at the Baikal, and were masters in the fishing as well as the aboriginal tribes the Buryats and the Evenks. The fishman second-to-none among all others was regarded the old fishman Savely. He knew perfectly to find the convenient place for catching the fish. The most beloved Savely’s point was Barguzinsky Bay. Namely at that place the fishmen stopped to have a breakfast with a rich fish soap of omul, and, then, had a rest there.  Among them was one inquisitive boy named Garan’ka. He wished to know as more as possible about the Sacred sea called Baikal. Once he asked Savely if it was true that the local winds had power under the fish of the Lake. In reply the old man told him one story about the Omul barren.

That happened long time ago, and it is unknown how that story had become popular among the people. That time, the winds-giants were reigning under the sea (Baikal) – Kultuk and Barguzin. They were close friends. Their beloved entertainment was to visit each other and have a fun in different ways. Their favourite toy was a omul barren that possessed unbelievable power. The fish flocks were always following her wherever it floated like if they wanted to get into by their own will.

Time after time, Kultuk and Barguzin were dropping the barren to each other to see who caught up the bigger fish flock. As soon as they started playing in their game, the sun light became seen no longer. They were taking fun in such a way not for the sake of the fish but they liked spending time as merrily as possible. The two giants could keep on living so if not falling in love with the mountain beauty Sarma. She had much stronger character compared to the Winds. A plenty of men wanted to marry such a powerful lady.

Sarma found both Kultuk and Barguzin attractive, and couldn’t opt who was better of them. She made up her mind to give them a task: to hand over the omul barren to her. Her husband would be the first who came at her place with the barren. At first sight, the task seemed to the giants quite simple: just to possess with the barren and drop it away to the Maloye More. However, in the mess that the winds-giants created it was difficult to define who was stronger. As soon as Kultuk took the barren, Barguzin picked it out at once. Their battle was heard all over the Baikal.   They were so absorbed by the battle that didn’t notice the battle disappeared. All their searchers were in vane. They managed to find no barren. It appeared neither a day nor a month after. Sarma married with no one of them. She just laughed at them as they were not powerful and strong bogatyrs (heroes of Russian folk legends) because they didn’t managed to hold the barren. “Since then, there is few fish in the Baikal, and where the omul barren is now, nobody knows”, - Savely terminated his story.

That omul barren hidden by the Baikal within its depth, sank deep into the mind of Garan’ka. Frequently, he dreamed to find it and apply for the sake of good fishing. Much time passed before the fishmen came back to Barguzinsky Bay. The caught was poor. There was little fish in the Baikal. Then, they decided to follow to the Maloye More. They set a tent of bark at the shore. The place was very picturesque. There were rocks and cliffs, and the green taiga all about. Suddenly a strong wind started blowing hard. The sky got dark, the sea became rough, the stone blocks fell from the rocks, and the age-old trees began crackling.  Sarma came on. When the sun appeared under the Maloye More, the fishmen went out the shelter and saw a barren lying on the bank next to them. The thought about that very omul barren crossed their minds. Suddenly a lot of gulls and gannets flied to the water and began with catching the fish one by one. There was so mach fish that the fishmen couldn’t take the seine net out the water. All their attempts resulted in cutting the net. The frustrated fishmen didn’t know what to do. It goes without saying that they had no desire to go away with empty hands. Then, the old Savely suggested throwing that barren away. By the common discussing it was decided that a few amount of fish would be better than too much of it, and that, at least, they would have a possibility to catch some fish in that case. Garan’ka felt depressed when saw the barren bringing away by the waves far from the shore. At once the sky got beclouded, high waves lifted up. It was Barguzin who came on. Garan’ka noticed that the wind-giant was holding the magic omul barren in his hands. In next to no time the barren had been dropped far away. At once the sea got smooth, the clouds came away, and the sun was shinning brightly. Barguzin passed into nothingness. The old Savely grinned and said: “Here is the magic barren. Kultuk is sure to appear now”. And as soon as he uttered that, the high waves emerged all over the lake. As Savely foresaw, it was Kultuk who had the barren now. It was seemed the game of the two wind-giants started again. The fact that Kultuk and Barguzin converted in friends again, gladded the old Savely a lot. And the Sarma’s wealth in the Maloye More would be big enough even without the barren.

In the afternoon the old Savely marched with his fishmen to the sea. They dropped the seine net in the water and went back. At the shore they started to pull the ends and, to their surprise, there were a great many of fish in the net. All the fishmen got happy and excited. The old Savely got marry and asked Garan’ka grinning: “Will you ever be rebuking me with the omul barren after that?”  “No, of course, I won’t. Your skills are better!”, - replied the boy overfilled with joy.

Eternal people and life-giving water

In old time, along the Earth’s edge a man was wondering. Once he saw an enormous bog through which no animal had ever come, no bird had ever flown to. The man wanted to know what kind of land was there beyond the bog. He took a run and reached the opposite shore. He saw a lot of saddled heirs there. At once from under the ground appeared little eternal people that were riding these animals. They told the man that a rapacious animal inhabited their land – a sable that bit to death one of the eternal man. They implored to the man to kill the sable.

The man went hunting and managed to kill the savage animal soon. The eternal people were very satisfied and happy. They thanked him for the all done by the life-giving water. The people promised to bring it to the place where the man was living.

The hunter came back home and told about the happened to his relatives about soon coming of the guests. The life-giving water could make all the people living eternally. Then, women began to light fireplaces and were looking forward the eternal people’s arrival. Promptly they saw them riding the heirs. All the people burst in laughing at their strange aspect.

The eternal people got offended and decided not to present the water. They poured it out on the trees –cedar, fir tree and pine, and turned back home, beyond the bog.

Since then cedars, fir trees and pines are always green all over the year.

The information from

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