Sunday, January 19, 2014

Carpe Diem #379, Ulan-Ude

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

We are almost 5200 km on the TSR and are arriving at the Ulan-Ude Station of the Trans Siberian Railroad, a wonderful Russian piece of Architecture. (By the way, I am still in the night shift, so I post this episode a bit earlier again.)

Ulan-Ude Railroad Station

It's here were we leave the TSR for a while to stretch our stiff legs and arms. Ulan-Ude,
the capital city of the Republic of Buryatia, Russia, is located about 100 kilometers (62 mi) southeast of Lake Baikal on the Uda River at its confluence with the Selenga.
The current name was given to the city in 1934 and means "Red Uda" in Buryat, reflecting the Soviet Union's Communist ideology. This is also reflected in a large statue of the head of Lenin. This statue was placed here in 1970, the year of the centennial of Lenin's birth. It's a popular place for the citizens of Ulan-Ude to meet each other.


As the Trans Siberian Railroad reached Ulan-Ude in 1900 this caused an explosion in it's growth. The population was 3500 in 1880 and reached 126,000 in 1939.
Until 1991 Ulan-Ude was closed to foreigners. There are old merchants' mansions richly decorated with wood and stone carving in the historical center of Ulan-Ude, along the river banks which are exceptional examples of Russian classicism. The city has a large ethnographic museum which recalls the history of the peoples of the region.
Here, by the way,  we ran into a first sign of Buddhism, the goal of this journey, around 25 km outside of Ulan -Ude, lays the Ivolginsky Datsan a Buddhist Temple.To this Temple belongs a story about, the 12th Pandito Hambo Lama of the Ivolginsky Datsan, Dashi-Dorzho Itigelov. He told his students and fellow monks to bury his body after his death and to check on it again in 30 years. According to the story, Itigelov then sat in the lotus position, began chanting the prayer of death, and died, mid-meditation. The monks followed Itigilov's directions, but when they exhumed his body 30 years later, they were amazed to find none of the usual signs of decay and decomposition. On the contrary, Itigilov looked as if he had been dead only a few hours, rather than three decades. Fearful of the Soviet response to their "miracle", the monks reburied Itigilov's body in an unmarked grave.
Itigelov's story was not forgotten over the years and on September 11, 2002 the body was finally exhumed and transferred to Ivolginsky Datsan where it was closely examined by monks and by scientists and pathologists. The official statement was issued about the body – very well preserved, without any signs of decay, whole muscles and inner tissue, soft joints and skin. The interesting thing is that the body was never embalmed or mummified 1991 attached to the datsan.
So for this episode no reference to "Aleph", Paulo and Hilal, but just a little bit about the Buddhistic side of the Soviet Union.
deep in Siberia
the beauty of a Buddhist shrine -
Om manipadmé hum (*)
(*) This is the correct Tibetian writing of the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum

Om manipadmé hum
the ancient chant once given
to the seeking world
lotusflower blooms
risen from deep down the old pond
towards the sun

This episode of Carpe Diem is open for your submissions until January 21th 11.59 AM (CET) and I will post our new episode later on today. That will be the fourth Special with a haiku written by our featured haiku-poet of this month, Alexey Andreyev. !! Ulan-Ude is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) !!



  1. Since Aleph is not in this episode, I'll take a short break, Kris. But I'll be reading the other blogs.

  2. Fascinating post, and a new tone of the orient and Buddhism in your haiku. Very interesting.