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Irkutsk Oblast

Shamanka Rock (Cape Burkhan)

Скала Шаманка (Мыс Бурхан)
Александр Шудыкин
Скала Шаманка (Мыс Бурхан)
Скала Шаманка (Мыс Бурхан)
Кузнецова Анна

One of the most mysterious and popular places on Lake Baikal is Shamanka Rock (also known as Cape Burkhan and Cape Shaman) on Olkhon Island near the village of Khuzhir. Shamanka ends with a bimodal rock, called «Shaman-Skala» (Shaman-Rock). The cape is located within the Baikal National Park, and it holds the status of a state natural and historical monument.

Shaman-Rock is the most famous symbol of the lake; all photo collections of this natural phenomenon include this rock. The cape consists of crystalline limestone with quartz veins, and the adjacent shore — granite rock. The rock is covered with bright red lichen. Near the coast the rock is 30 meters high, its furthest part — 42 meters high.

Closer to the shore stands the winding Shaman Cave within the rock. The cave is about 12 meters long, fr om 3 to 4.5 meters wide, and fr om 1 to 6.5 meters high. The cave can be accessed from two sides — the north-east and the west. There are side corridors and a narrow vent in the cave.

The name of the cape «Burkhan» appeared at the end of the 17th century after Tibetan Buddhism began spreading in the Baikal region. The Buryat Buddhists used the word «Burkhan» to indicate the chief deity of the lake. In ancient times, the cape was a place for religious sacrifices to the spirit master of Olkhon Island, Ugute Noyon, who was believed to live in the cave at the cape and was the most formidable and revered deity of the lake. Near the cape, in a sacred grove, shamans were burned and buried. There was also a Buddhist chapel on Shaman Rock. Passing travelers would always dismount their horses and lead them by the bridle to silence the sound of hooves, not to wake the sleeping spirits or distract shamans. Cape Shaman was the place wh ere Olkhon Buryats swore an oath to remove a false accusation or defend their honor, or wh ere they promised to perform a duty. Childless Buryats came here from different regions, asking for the gift of children. Women and children were forbidden to approach the cape.

There are many legends about the cave, including legends about the stay of Genghis Khan and Mongol ruler Gegen-Burkhan on Olkhon Island.

A number of archaeological finds have been made at the cape and nearby. The Shaman Cave was examined and described for the first time by Jan Czerski in 1879. Later 18th century coins were discovered here; in 1989, thorough excavations were carried out, which helped discover a number of items, belonging to both the recent (17th-19th centuries) and the Neolithic (5th-3rd millennium BCE) periods. Some of the finds are kept at the Khuzhir Museum.

A site of ancient man was found on the isthmus, connecting Cape Shaman with the island. More than a dozen graves, belonging to the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, were found there.

Site on the map

Address: Irkutsk Oblast, Olkhonskiy District

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