The district is located in the central part of Buryatia. It was founded in 1923; its area is 3304 square kilometers. The center of the district is the village of Tarbagatai; the distance from the village to Ulan-Ude is 52 kilometers.
Cultural tourism in Tarbagatai district is a preserved culture of the Old Believers as an amazing phenomenon for the whole of Russia. Old Believers – a very bright and ancient branch of the Russian people – a particle of pre-Peter Moscow. They were forcibly resettled to Buryatia, in the second half of the 18th century by the decree of Catherine II. This part of the Russian population refused to innovate as a result of the church reform, continuing to adhere to the old faith, rituals, and domestic way of life. They were moved by whole families; hence they also received their name – “Semeyskiye”.
In the new life, the settlers preserved their spiritual culture, unique traditions, and faith. The Tarbagatay Old Believers are recognized by UNESCO as the “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” and inscribed in the first list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The first Old Believers settled near Verkhneudinsk in the villages of Tarbagatai, Kuitun, Bolshoy Kunaley, Desyatnikovo, Burnashevo. You can get acquainted with the culture and way of life of the Old Believers at the Old Believers’ Center “Visiting the Semeyskiye” in the village of Tarbagatai.
Unique exhibits of the family culture are kept in the Tarbagatay Museum of Old Believer Culture, created on the basis of a private collection of Father Sergius, a clergyman of the local active Old Believer church. It contains items of the material culture of the Semeyskiye of 17-19 centuries, unique manuscripts and books of almost four hundred years old – real monuments of Old Russian writing. The collection of the museum has about 700 exhibits.
It is a high cliff in the foothills of the Tsagan-Daban Range, 45 kilometers from Ulan-Ude. A picturesque landscape opens up on the Selenga Valley from the viewing point. This mountain is a unique natural monument, one of the sacred places for Buddhists of Buryatia. The second name the mountain was given in its external form is the Sleeping Lion. The outlines of the mountain are very similar to a sleeping lion. Its head with a shaggy mane resting on his paws, a powerful back is visible, and the road at the slope looks like a lion’s tail. The slope of the mountain is covered with rare plants, many of which are listed in the Red Book.
In 17 kilometers from the village of Barykino in the Khaylasyn area the tribal union (state) of Merkits was located in the 11-13 centuries. Today, only ancient graves among the mountains and steppes testify to the past battles of Merkits with the army of Genghis Khan. But there is another attraction of this nature and archeology monument – the Apricot Grove. The locals call it the “Debensky nut” – the Siberian apricot. Fruits resemble real apricots but taste slightly bitter. The picturesque area attracts the attention of many tourists, area studies professionals, and historians.
From the northwest, the Zharchikha valley is bordered with high scenic rock outcrops – the so-called “Selenga Dauria”. The Great Russian writer Anton Chekhov in his trip to Sakhalin marked the “Selenga Dauria” as the most beautiful place in Russia.
The area of Luzhki is located 10 kilometers east of the village of Bolshoy Kunaley. This picturesque place is a combination of forest glades, meadow landscapes, and a young pine forest on the plain and dark coniferous forests on the mountains. But the main elements of the nature of this area are a perennial stream and residual rock hills. The most famous of them is the Luzhkoviy stone. It consists of several monoliths supporting each other. This place is one of the main tourist attractions. There is a beautiful view of the Kunaleyka River valley and the village of Bolshoy Kunaley from the top of the stone.