The Buryat people are descended from various Siberian and Mongolic peoples that inhabited the Lake Baikal Region. After Buryatia was incorporated into Russia in 1609, it was exposed to two traditions – Buddhist and Christian. Buryats west of Lake Baikal abandoned nomadism whereas the eastern (Transbaikal) Buryats lived in yurts and were mostly Buddhists. Because of their skills in horsemanship and mounted combat, many were enlisted into the Amur Cossacks regiments.In 1741, the Tibetan branch of Buddhism was recognized as one of the official religions in Russia, and the first Buryat datsan (Buddhist monastery) was built.The second half of the 19th century was a time of growth for the Buryat Buddhist church (48 datsans in Buryatia in 1914). During Stalin's regime in the late 1930s the Buddhist church ceased to exist and thousands of cultural treasures were destroyed. A genuine revival of Buddhism has taken place since the late 1980s as an important factor spiritual rebirth of Buryitya.
© Ramdas Iyer Photography