A little more about Tomsk … and then …
I was interested to read of the surprising turnaround in the fortunes of Tomsk after missing-the-boat, or more precisely, the railway, as the (then) new Siberian route stretched eastwards, bypassing the city in 1896.
In the mid-1800s twenty percent of the citizenship consisted of exiles; Tomsk being an established Siberian dumping ground for “undesirables” exiled east. Subsequently, it became a White Army stronghold after the Russian revolution. By the start of World War II it had transformed again into a “Siberian Athens”: an established centre of learning, with a student body equal to one twelfth of the population. Today there are over a dozen major academies, universities and other educational establishments catering for students of science, industry and medicine in a city with a population of over half a million. Incidentally, it was also one of the first Russian cities to have internet access, established via grants to educational institutions in the early 1990s.
Typically, during the Soviet era: Tomsk’s churches suffered under the communists, though some of the structures were retained and put to secular industrial and residential use. As in other Russian cities there has been a small renaissance in the recovery and re-establishment of the edifices themselves to their original purpose.
Although much emphasis has been placed here on the educational, Tomsk also caters for a broad range of cultural interests too, in the form of theatres, concert venues, language/historical centres and museums, sport and exhibitions of art.
Ok, it’s time to look still further east. To some degree this is all a preamble to Lake Baikal, though perhaps a little unfairly as locations short of the Russian holiday-maker’s inland sea are still worthy of note. Krasnoyarsk, for example, has a reputation for “quality” rock climbing, something I know practically nothing about! … but for those who do: it’s apparently one of the places to be, a “Mecca” of the sport in fact. Good, dynamic climbing country equates to great vistas too of course… for those who prefer cameras to crampons.
At this point we are (virtually) 4000km from Moscow and approaching the Khakasiya and Tuva republics in a landscape offering a range of “serious” outdoor activities including trekking and rafting as well as (more) climbing. Tuva is also worth a mention for those interested in other cultural beliefs as it is has preserved much of it’s heritage including an active shamanistic religion and of course the well renowned aural spectacle of “throat singing”. More on these regions later…
Closer to the city though… in fact a mere 20 minutes from the centre by car is the Stolby National Park, renowned for its dynamic, sculpted cliffs… again well-climbed. There is a definite thrust to keep the area wild and untamed… that’s its appeal; and as such camping is forbidden outside of strictly designated (and limited) areas. Cars are not allowed past Taletino check-point which is still an hour and a half’s trek to the cliff-laden heart of the park itself. Better start hiking then.
More next time.
Next time: Trips and Tales (Part 52) More on Krasnoyarsk
[Photo by kgbbristol]