The district is located in the south-western part of Buryatia. It was established in 1923, its area is 11,800 square kilometers. The center of the district is Kyren village; the distance from the village to Ulan-Ude is 490 kilometers.
The history of Tunka appears in archaeological monuments, burial grounds, ancient encampments. The remains of historical monuments are preserved: Tunkinsky Ostrog (the first border fortress of Russian Cossacks of the middle of the 17th century) and the Orthodox Church of the Intercession (founded in 1812). There are many memorable places associated with the stay of the Decembrists, revolutionary events and civil war, the life of famous academic figures, culture, and art of Buryatia. The authentic utensils, documents telling about the history and culture of the Tunka Valley are stored in the local history museum of the village of Hoytogol.
One of the holy places revered by Buddhists and shamanists and attracting tourists is the Burkhan-Baabai locality. At the time when shamanism was the main religion in Tunkinskaya valley, this place was called Shargai-Noyon, the hero- warrior, who, according to legend, descended from heaven to fight the Mongol invaders. Later, in the era of spreading Buddhism in the Tunka valley, the place became known as Burkhan-Baabai.
In 1919, the lamas of the Kyrensky datsan erected the one-of-a-kind house of worship on the sanctuary – “Zhalsan”, which is a symbol of Buddhism. This structure is unique in design, there is no second such structure in Buddhist temples of Russia. It is a high pillar on top of which a barrel is fortified, filled with Buddhist books, relics, silver coins, and other attributes. This gift is raised high so that the Buddha could see it. Later, two datsans were built. Now in the Burkhan-Baabai area, there is a shamanic sanctuary and a Buddhist datsan, there is a bunkhan (chapel) and an altar, and services are being maintained.
Many legends of local residents are associated with the stone Bukhe-Noyon. They say that two powerful bulls met on Baikal a long time ago and started a battle for the right to rule on this land. The battle lasted a long time, but no one could win. Then one of them went to the Barguzin Valley, and the second went to the Tunkinskaya Valley, where it turned into a white rock Bukhe-Noyon. On the worship place at an altitude of 1050 meters there is a picturesque rock formation of white marble, similar to a lying bull. This place has been worshiped by people for centuries to this day.
Tunka is a variety of landscapes, mountain peaks, eternally covered with snow, alpine meadows and glaciers, sand dunes and tundra, steppe and foothills, taiga and mysterious gorges, quaint canyons, pure rivers, deep lakes, swift waterfalls, pristine swamps. For the abundance of mineral springs, the Tunkinskaya valley is called “the land of the Siberian narzans”, and the “Siberian Switzerland” for the beauty.
Tunkinsky National Park
Coniferous trees grow on the territory of the park, more than 10 rare and endangered plant species, previously listed in the Red Book of Russia. The park is inhabited by more than 40 species of mammals and 200 species of birds. Tunkinskaya Valley stretches for 200 kilometers, with a width of 20 to 30 kilometers. According to geology, a few million years ago the Tunkinskaya valley was a lodge of a giant lake, but as a result of a geological catastrophe, the lake’s water broke through the jumper and flowed into Lake Baikal. This is reminiscent of the tops of 9 extinct volcanoes, still towering over the flatland topography of the valley. The unique and rare beauty of the nature of the Tunkinsky national park, the abundance of healing mineral springs attract a huge number of tourists
“Arshan” means “healing water” in the Buryat language. The so-called mineral or warm spring, that has a healing value. The village of the same name is located in the foothills of the Eastern Sayan, where the river Kyngarga outgoes the mountains. The name of the river Kyngarga is translated from the Buryat language as a “drum”. This mountain river runs in a narrow gorge, forming many turns and beautiful waterfalls.
In 1920, Arshan became a resort of national importance; in 1928 construction of sanatoriums began here. Arshan for more than 80 years is known as one of the most popular places for treatment and recreation in Buryatia. The resort is located at an altitude of 893 meters above sea level, in a picturesque place, in a mixed forest; the air here is filled with mountain freshness and aromas of pine needles.