South-Eastern Tuva

In the east of the Republic is located the most distant settlement, the administrative center of Tere-Khol kozhuun – Kungurtug. It is a place that is hard to reach, one can get there either by helicopter or by long winding tracks through mountain passes and taiga. But the difficult roads do not frighten those who wish to see the lake of Töre-Khol, keeper of ancient secrets. In the center of the lake there is an ancient settlement of the 8th century, Por-Bazhyng. How many legends have been created by the locals, how many theories have been put forth by researchers!

The settlement is 211 meters long and 158 meters wide, the ruined walls reach 10 meters in height, with all four walls oriented exactly to the points of the compass. There are differing opinions about this island settlement. Por-Bazhyng is known as an ancient fort, built by the powerful khan Moyun-Chur (Boyan-Chor), but it was more likely his son Böge-Kagan of the Uigur Khanate. Locals quite like the version of history that Por-Bazhyng was a palace complex created to please a woman’s whimsy. The great Bayan-Chor marred a beautiful Chinese princess, Nin-Go, who wished to have a summer residence in the cool mountains, in order to escape the baking Chinese steppes. Por-Bazhyng was Boyan-Chor’s gift to his young wife. In a different legend, the princess Nin-Go decided to put up a memorial complex in this place after the death of husband, however the grave of Boyan-Chor has never been found.

There is also an opinion that Por-Bazhyng is a temple complex. It has also been shown that it is a miniature copy of the capital of the Uigur khanate at that time, Kara-Balgasun. All of these versions about the four remaining lives of Por-Bazhyng have been performed in a play by the Tuvan state puppet theater, told around the fires of archaeological expeditions, and are known to every local resident, who can tell even more legends connected with the lake and the fort.

It is known to scientists that the island was once a glacier which melted over time. Melting of frosts could lead to this site going underwater, in about 100 years. Meanwhile, Por-Bazhyng is a an object of cultural and historical legacy of federal significance, of which in Tuva there are only two. Photos of the settlement, made by satellite, have shown markings on the bottom of the lake which are similar to towers and roads. There are similar settlements found in other regions of the Republic.

The east of Tuva is known for its medicinal arzhaan (springs), the thermal springs of Tarys and Üsh-Beldir, where people come to get healthy and young. The multiple dangerous rapids of Balyktyg-Khem attract rafting enthusiasts. And going up-river along Kaa-Khem one can encounter the picturesque settlements of Russian Old Believers.