BAIKAL - BURYATIA: tourism and recreation

official website of the Republic of Buryatia in the field of tourism development

The story of the origin of

Russian legend

Russians have long heard that somewhere in the middle of Siberia there is a huge lake. But no one knew how it is called. When the Russian merchants, and then the Cossacks passed beyond the Urals and began to approach the large rivers of the Ob’ and the Yenisei, they learned that people live around the lake, which boilsday and night. The Russians learned that the lake is rich with fish, and there are different animals walking along the coasts, and such expensive ones, which can be found nowhere else in the world. The Cossacks and merchants hurried to that sea-lake, did not sleep, did not feed the horses, did not know when the day ends and when the night begins. Each of them wanted to be the first to get to the lake and see what it is and why it boils without rest.

These merchants and Cossacks were searching the sea for a long time, maybe several years, many of them lost their way, but the survivors came and saw the Shaman stone before them. He blocked the way for them, and closedthe light. Neither to the right nor to the left one can be turned away;so huge mountains are all around it that you throw your head off the head and you cannot see the tops. The Cossacks and merchants turned around the Shaman-stone and thought that they could not get to the sea, but they heard themselvesits rustling, rising and rocking against the rocks.

The merchants were worried, the Cossacks were grieved, and it seemed that their whole long road was gone for a snuff of tobacco. They drove back, broke the tent and began to think seriously, how they can pass Shaman stone or go round the mountains. The mountains will not sweep them around the sea. So the Cossacks with merchants stopped and began to live near the sea-lake, but they would not get to the shore.

How long did they have to live here, perhaps their bones would have rotted there, but, to their happiness, an unknown man approached them and called Buryat. The Russians began to ask him to led them ashore, circle the sea and show the way to the land where they had not beenyet. The man did not say anything, folded his hands in a tube, then lifted them to his face and went into the forest. The Russians did not detain him, they let him go. Merchants and Cossacks were saddenedagain, what to do, cause they do not pass, it is clear, their death is near. So they lived a long time. The merchants and the Cossacks were sent away and thrown out, they were worse than their former grief. They wanted to get together with the last forces and go back, but then that Buryat came back and brought his son, said: "I cannot bypass Baigalwith you, I became old, I cannot round the Shaman Stone –my years are gone, take my son with you, his eyes are light, and his legs are deer. "

The old man left for the taiga, and his son led the Russians along a new road, led them to the seashore and said: "Bai-gal." The Russians asked him what it was, he said to them: "Aldermen say it means a fiery place, there used to be a continuous fire before, then the earth collapsed, and the sea appeared." Since then, we have called our sea Baigal". Russians liked this name, and they also began to call this sea Baikal.


The Yakuts, as they say, used to live near Lake Baikal long time ago. Then, when it became hard to live there and the beast started to be less active, they decided to roam deeper into the taiga. So they walked a long while and reached the end of the world, where was nowhere else to go. The eternal night began, and the taiga ended. Here, on the edge of the taiga, in front of the ocean, they stopped to live. But Yakuts remembered all about their good life on Lake Baikal. When the Russians came to Siberia, the Yakuts were no longer near Lake Baikal, by this time they had all drifted to the end of the world where they now live. Yakuts insistedRussian to go the south and east, they say, it is necessary, but there is nothing to do here. Then the Russians asked: "What is there that you advise us to go there?" "There is Byi-gal, all the riches are hiddenthere: gold, silver, sable, and everything that is not listed yet." What is this Byigal? "- Russians asked." The Great Rich Sea "- answered the Yakuts, and when Russians went here, they began to say that they were going to Baikal-the sea.That's how the Russians called our sea Baikal from the Yakuts.



Since people appeared near the Sayans, many thousands of years have passed. Baikal was still not there, and all people suffered from a shortage of water, and decided to migrate from these mountains to the valleys where the rivers flow and all life goes differently, where there is no winter and people eat fruits. The people gathered and went. Nobody knows how long did the people go, but once they met a Wanderer with a staff and a small knapsack behind his shoulders. He stopped the people and asked: "What is the way, dear people, you hold on?" They told him about their disasters, that they cannot go on living there anymore, and decided to move to warm countries, and to seek a place where the land itself gives life. The Wanderer listened to them and said: "Go back, you were deceived by rumors." Unkind people, you see, picked you up. There is no country where everything ready to eat. How much time did the people go back to the Sayans, no one knows, but he came to their old places, and began to live there again. But there still was no water. People began to scold the Wanderer: you deceived us, they said. Now go somewhere, so you can not muster your strength. The wanderer led the people into the forest valley between the mountains and said: "There will be water here."

He firmly rested his feet on the ground, took out his heart from his chest and threw it with force to the ground. People heard he said: "Baikal!", apparently, it meant "heart." At the place where the heart fell, waterappearedimmediately, it began to spill, and the people began to retreat to the mountains, so as not to drown. The water spilled for a long time, and it spread to the mountains. At once life around the sea changed, people were overjoyed. For a long time people thought how to name the sea, which was formedfrom the heart of the wanderer, but could not. And the sea grew wider and wider. It breathed a heroic force,the water became pure, like the truth of the Wanderer. All the nature around the sea came to life, beasts and birds were bred, the people began to fish, to breed cattle. There was a lot of moisture, the trees grew to the very sky, the rocks - and they covered with dense greenery. And then people remembered a good wanderer and named the sea after the name of his brave heart – Baikal. Since that time no one has changed that name, and all the peoples began to call our sea Baikal.


The origin of the name of Lake Baikal has not been found out yet. The first Russian explorers of Siberia used the Evenk name "Lamu". After the departure of KurbatIvanov's detachment to the shore of the lake, the Russians switched to the Buryat name "Baigal". At the same time, they linguistically adapted it to their language, replacing the characteristic "G" for "K" with the more familiar for the Russian languageword "Baikal". This name is used up to the present day.

The first researcher who tried to find out the meaning of the name of Lake Baikal was NikolaySpafariy, who traveled through Siberia as a Tsar envoy to China. Since that time, the name Baikal became common, but earlier different peoples had different names for the lake.

There are some versions of name origin:

Chinese version

The ancient Chinese chronicles referred the lake as "Hanhai" or "Beihai" - the "northern sea". In Chinese chronicles, information about the North Sea came from messages of Chinese ambassadors who were exiled to Baikal by the Huns. Later, the name of Lake Baikal entered the Chinese geographical works in the form of "Beijiaerhu", where "Bey" means "shell, wealth, treasure, jewel", "jia" - "add, increase, exceed", "er" –a suffix, "hu "-" the lake ". In general, the Chinese Beijiaerkhu means "a lake that increases wealth" or "a lake that increases the number of shells" (the latter is due to the fact that in ancient times in China the shells were highly valued and acted as monetary units, just as in the Ancient Russ skins of squirrels and martensplayed the role of money). Chinese ambassadors most likely borrowed the name of the lake from local peoples. One of the known versions is borrowing from the Dinlin. Dinlins are the most mysterious people of Central Asia hidden behind many veils of secrets and obscurities. According to the Chinese chronicles, Dinlins were red-haired or fair-haired, white-faced, with light or blue eyes, they wore long beards, and had a powerful physique.


Arabians gave the world one of the outstanding geographical knowledge - the world map. It was accompanied by a book that contained a fairly complete description of the territories, nature and culture of the population, the seas, rivers, plains and valleys. "The book was entitled"Entertainment of the Templar in Wanderings through the Regions". The map of East Asia shows numerous lakes. However, Baikal cannot be definitely identified among them, and the version of the possibility of the origin of the name Baikal from the Arabic language was expressed on the basis of the study of the little-studied Arab cosmography "The Mysteries of the Created". According to this version Baikal is Bahr al-Baqa, which in Arabic means "a sea that gives rise to many tears" or "a sea of horror." The cosmography describes the relief and climate of the Baikal region, tells about the peoples living there, and the following is reported about the lake: "This is the sea with surprisingly clear and pleasant taste of water. It is located beyond the sea of Diamonds. The God Almighty created it in the form of two horns connected together. It arose from an underground crevice. And it always moaned, and it will moan right up to the day of judgment. And the sea is in constant excitement and roar... ".


Hunnucalled the Lake Dengiz. This can be indirectly indicated only by the fact that among the few words that have come down to us, the Huns had the word "Dengizikh". It was the name of the son of the Huns leader Attila, who battled with the Roman legions in the V century on the fields of Gallia and led horse hordes to the walls of the Holy City - Rome.

Türkic version

The Turks called the lake "Tengis" or "Tengis-Dalai".

Yakut version

It is widely believed that the name Baikal comes from the Yakut language, from two Yakut words: "bai" - "rich" and "kel" - the lake.

Evenk version

Evenki called Baikal as Lamu - "the sea"