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«    June 2010    »
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Tandy and Chaa-Khol are the first kozhuuns to start work on local “Treasures”

Tos ErtineThe Tandy and Chaa-Khol kozhuuns were the first ones to start work on the objects entered into the “Nine Treasures” project (Tos Ertine) involving the attractions of the republic. Today, residents of Chaa-Khol kozhuun will start cleaning up and arranging the area at the estuary of Chaa-Khol river, where a Buddhist niche stands carved into the Sume rock.

This niche had always been a place of worship for the local population, and the goal of tourist pilgrimages. In the 90’s, this area fell into the zone of  Sayano-Shusenskoe dam,  and the niche ended up under the water.

Now, in connection with repair work at the Sayano Shushenskoe plant, the water level dropped off, and the legendary object surfaced again.

“The monument is located on the left bank of Chaa-Khol river, at the elevation of 4 meters from the base of Sume mountain. The niche dates from the Yuan period (1260-1368), was 1 meter high, 60 cm wide, and 86 cm deep, - teachers from the local school, Choigana Sandak and Mariya Khomushku write in their report for the “Nine Treasures” contest. –On the grey stone of the rear wall of the niche, the skillful hand of  an ancient craftsman carved a bas relief image of the Buddha and two bodhisattvas in menacing poses.  On the left and right side, silhouettes of faithful guardians can be seen.  In 1717, the niche was visited by members of Krasnoyarsk military-topographic expedition led by Andrei Yeremeyev and Ivan Nashivoshnikov. They discovered bows and arrows inside the niche, grains of barley, and strips of blue and black paper inscribed with mysterious gold and silver symbols. Later it was clarified that these were Tibetan prayers. This is a monument of world significance.”

In the Tandy kozhuun, as part of the “Nine Treasures” project, residents of Mezhegei and Bai-Khaak summons, the workers of the kozhuun and village administrations will carry out an action involving the clean-up of Khadyn and Dus-Khol (Svatikovo) lakes.

The huge mirror-like surface of Khadyn lake, with an area of 23.6  sq. kilometers is located in a deep closed basin. The greatest depth is 10 meters, the water is slightly saline. The Khadyn river drains into the lake from the south. There are no fish in the lake, but in the spring and autumn, especially on the island, there are many geese, ducks and plovers. Khadyn is the favorite place for bathing in Tuva, the water is similar to sea water. On free days, Kyzyl empties out, and everybody tries to go bathing and sunbathing at Khadyn. After every such weekend, mountains of garbage remain here – plastic bottles, plastic bags.

A couple of kilometers from Khadyn is Dus-Khol(Svatikovo) lake.  Dus-Khol is one of the leaders in terms of the numbers of entries into the “Nine Treasures” contest. “When I found out that 2010 was declared Year of Tourism in our republic, and when I heard about the “Nine Treasures of Tuva” contest, I immediately thought of “Svatikovo” lake. I believe that this lake is one of the real treasures of  our republic, - writes Vova Baikara, a 4th grade student from School No. 15 in Kyzyl.  – When I was little, I suffered from frequent colds. Before I started 1st grade, family council decided to send me with my grandmother to the “Dus-Khol” pension to strengthen my immune system. That was my first longer trip. It was not very cheerful there, but I met a little girl from Tomsk, and we played together. That year I did not get sick at all. So we started going to the lake several times every summer on days off.

Dus-Khol lake in translation means salt lake; it is also known as “Svatikovo”, named in honor of a salt miner of the 60’s. it is located about half-hour drive south from Kyzyl. Out of the 43 kilometer trip, only the first 16 km are on the highway, the rest is along an unpaved dusty road. Last year, construction of an asphalt road was begun, but so far it extends for only 2 km. the lake itself is astonishing in every way. It is warm. Only tiny red crayfish – rapa - live in it. Svatikovo is a very salty lake. If you have only a small scratch on the skin, it burns intolerably from the water. That is why everybody swims very carefully, without splashing, so that the water would not get into their eyes. Swimming here is easy – the water supports you, and you can also float on the water for a very long time without moving and without getting tired.

I walked almost to the middle of the lake, so far that I could not make out the people and cars on the shore! That is because the lake is very shallow, and on top of that, the bottom is warm!  Where the bottom is soft and squishy between the toes like clay, that place has a lot of medicinal mud. People rub it on their skin, and some collect it into buckets and take it home. There are also two medicinal arzhaans near the lake. Their water is ice-cold and not very tasty – mineral water without carbonation. Even the air at the lake is medicinal; it is very clean and has a special odor because of the content of salts.

On the shore of the lake is a resort – a group of old wooden one-floor houses with many rooms without conveniences and utilities. Each house has a supervisor. Showers are taken outside from a barrel, some of the pensions have light in the evenings, and communications are from a hill by your cell phone. We ate at the dining room, but others cooked on gas in special places.  Most people bring their food with them, but there is a stand with a small assortment of products. There are no attraction or entertainment, people simply bathe, suntan, rub themselves with mud, or sleep.

People come mostly in their own cars or by taxi. There is no public transportation because of the bad road. The cars are parked right on the shore. My grandmother told me that before the cars use to be left at the last hill before you get to the lake, that is, quite far from the lake, so that they would not soil the water, shore and air. But now you can park 50 m from the water. Before, it was also thought inappropriate to take the mud away in buckets, but now many take it away.

My grandmother also says that the lake is becoming shallower, and that the bottom is only warm, not hot like before. She says that the lake is dying because of the carelessness of the visitors. This summer, they started to collect an entrance fee - 100 rubles for each car. They said it was for clean-up of the beach. My mother said: “Finally somebody started to take care of it”. But if was filthy as usual. Most of the people simply leave their garbage right on the shore, because there is no place to throw it out, and it is unpleasant to take it back with them. This year, a good road is to be built right up to the lake and many more people will be coming here.

If the behavior of the visitors does not improve, the lake will quickly die. It is necessary that, together with stories of the healing virtues of the lake, people also tell each other about caring and respectful behavior towards the unique and irreplaceable natural resources. So that everyone who visits would feel himself a hero who touched a natural wonder, who bathed in the fairy-tale water of life. I saw many references to Dus-Khol lake on the internet, from many cities and foreign sites, and all the statements about it were enthusiastic and full of wonder, with lists of diseases that had been cured there. And almost everywhere there were stories about the complete lack of services and culture of recreation. But in Kyzyl, there are no books about this world-famous healing lake on sale or in the library. There are only small articles in books about Tuva. This summer, we vacationed by the Black Sea, in Anap. It was very interesting, with cheerful, holiday atmosphere. There were so many people, that an apple could not fall between them on the beach, and life on the shore is active around the clock,, and therer are many entertainments for adults and children, but despite that, the sand is clean, and there are many shrimp, crabs fish, mollusks and medusas in the sea. Everything is well thought out and useful.

I think that the contest “Nine Treasures of Tuva” is right, it will give people a reason to think about and appreciate the things amongst which we live. And the organization of tourism in our republic is also good: the local residents will mix with visitors, widen their horizons and be able to earn money by offering different services. The most important part is that we bring and keep order in everything, so that we would not destroy all of out primal, original nature in one year of tourism.”

 This schoolboy’s report does not simply include the description of the beauties of a favorite place of recreation of Kyzyl residents, but also shows great concern about the fate of the lake. Now, under the leadership of Vice-Premier Anatolii Damba-Khuurak the work on the regulation of the utilization  of these two of the trademark lakes of the republic is under way. Vice-Premier Anatolii Damba-Khuurak believes that there should be a care-taker or superintendent at the Dus-Khol and Khadyn lakes. He would be responsible to the government of the republic and the people for rational use of the lakes. He would also have enough authority to punish irresponsible citizens.


About the “Nine Treasures” project

Special project “Tos Ertine” (Nine Treasures) is dedicated to the Year of Tourism, and aims at setting up the primary infrastructure for internal tourism, discovery of local attractions, and revealing them to all the residents of Tuva.

238 entries were submitted to the contest, from enterpises, organizations, individual enthusiasts, schoolchildren, and retirees. The greatest activity was shown by local kozhuun centers of professions. Some of the attractions were duplicated. Especially frequent reports were about the river Yenisei, Center of Asia obelisk, lake Dus-Khol, shamanism, and khoomei.

As a result, the actual number of reported objects was 219, out of which 110 were selected by experts. Entire works in verse about some of them were received, as well as photographs and films, while others included only a few laconic paragraphs.

With the beginning of summer, several categories of “Nine treasures” start off at the same time.

- for the best community action in clean-up and arrangement of the entries;

- for the best photo material about the entries;

- for the best story, video recording, TV theme, radio program about the objects and

  the associated actions for arrangement;

- for the best theme itinerary that includes the entered objects;

- for the most active municipality.

In August, the Expert Council will determine the short list of the attractions and in early September, the main “Treasures of Tuva” will be selected by a 10-day period of internet voting.

In the fall, the ceremony of awards to the winners of the various categories of the contest will take place, of the first and the most active participants; in December, as results of Year of Tourism, a map of the attractions and noteworthy objects of the republic, and the catalog  “Nine Treasures” will be published, which will include all the main pearls of Tuva.

Contacts of the Organization Committee:, phone/fax: 8(39422)21227, 21119; email:;  address: kyzyl, 667000, ul. Chulduma, 18, cabinet 315.

Dina Oyun, translated by Heda Jindrak
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