KALmykia republic – республика калмкия

Kalmykia is the only Buddhist region in Europe which makes it a very attractive place. Various Buddhist facilities such as temples, pagodas, stupas, statues of Buddha and teachers of Buddhism dot the republic. The highest concentration of Buddhist sites are in Elista - the capital.

elista – элиста

Elista was founded in 1865. The city is small. Everything is easy to find and within a walking distance. In 1998 Elista received publicity as the host city of the Chess Olympiad. The then Kalmyk president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov presided over the International Chess Federation (FIDE) for many years. On the outskirts of Elista the so-called Chess City was built for the 1998 Chess Olympiad. The large ensemble of cottages around the Chess Palace houses restaurants and a hotel where travelers can stay cheap in spacious apartments.

The Chess City Palace.

His Holiness Dalai Lama XIV paid a number of visits to Elista. In September 1992 he consecrated the construction site of a new Buddhist temple that was eventually commissioned in October 1996. The temple (Sacred Adobe of the Gelug School's Theory & Practice) is located beyond the city's boundaries.

Stupas can be found all over Kalmykia nowadays.

During his visit in 1998, Dalai Lama XIV chose another location in central Elista to build the largest Buddhist temple in Europe. The temple was opened for the public in December 2005. It houses a 12-meter statue of Buddha Shakyamoony. The temple is surrounded by pavilions with statues of different Buddhas and description of their exploits.

The Golden Temple of Buddha Shakyamoony.

Newlyweds come to the temple grounds to rotate prayer wheels for added happiness.

The Pagoda of Seven Days decorates the central square.

Chess is a truly people's game in Elista. People play day and night.

The Golden Gate.

On December 27, 1943 Joseph Stalin ruled the Republic of Kalmykia to be abolished and its ethnic Kalmyk residents to be forcibly exiled to Siberia for collaboration with the Nazi. In 1957 the survivors of the deportation were allowed to return home by the then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. No wonder that the Return from the Exile Monument stands in Khrushchev Street. The monument was designed by Ernst Neizvestny who also designed the Mask of Sorrow in Magadan to commemorate victims of political repressions.  Ernst himself was prosecuted by same Khrushchev and had to immigrate to the United States.

The monument is built in a figurative style. It is advisable to come closer and examine in detail.

A cattle car like those used to transport the Kalmyks to Siberia stands close by and houses a small museum of deportation.

It would be utterly unjust to blame all Kalmyks for collaboration with the Germans. Many of them together with all other small and big nationalities within the Soviet Union fought the allied Hitler troops at all fronts of the Great Patriotic war.

The alley of heroes and WWII memorial.

General Basan Gorodovikov a WWII hero and political leader of the Kalmyk people in the 20th century.

Nice Kalmyk kids.

Lovely Kalmyk girls.


Typical Kalmykia landscape: arid steppe, salt lakes.

Occasionally, one can encounter a peculiar statue amid arid steppe.