Wonderful Russia

By | Nov 3, 2018 | Views: 52,295

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The Russian Federation, or Russia in short, is the largest country in the world, covering 17 million square kilometres and boasting an extensive coastline. Its capital, Moscow, is also the most populous city. Like the country’s two other major cities, St. Petersburg and Novgorod, it is located in Western Russia.

Russia stretches for 4,000 kilometres from North to South and roughly 10,000 kilometres from East to West. It shares borders with 16 countries and spans 11 time zones. Southern Russia consists of stretches of steppe while the north is largely tundra forest. The land is rich in natural resources such as coal, ores, petroleum, natural gas, timber and minerals.

 

History

The history of Russia as a nation can be traced back to the 9th century. Its first recorded ruler was Prince Oleg who controlled the East Slavic lands and later expanded his empire south to Novgorod and the Dnieper River valley. At that time, Russia was known as Kievan Rus (Land of the Rus).

The rapid expansion of Kievan Rus’s influence, especially to the south, prompted its rulers to establish foreign relations with, among others, the Turks, the Slavs, the Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian Empire. These foreign relations were volatile in nature and sometimes led to conflict and war.

Depiction of Yaroslav the Wise from Granovitaya Palata. Image credit: wikipedia

A depiction of Yaroslav the Wise from Granovitaya Palata. Image credit: Wikipedia

Kievan Rus enjoyed a ‘Golden Age’ under Yaroslav I (reign: 1019–1054), son of Vladimir the Great. During the reign of these two rulers, Kievan Rus was Christianised, ties with the rest of Europe were improved and a written code of law was established.

Unfortunately, not long after the demise of Yaroslav, the prosperity and influence of Kievan Rus began to diminish as regional clans emerged as powerful forces. This was hastened by the destruction of its key cities during the Mongolian invasion of the 13th century.

The Russians fought several wars in the centuries following their defeat to the Mongolians. Amidst the unrest, Moscow emerged as the country’s centre of political power. When the Romanovs (1613 – 1825) succeeded to the throne, they were happy to keep the status quo. They also promoted Moscow as a centre of art and academia.

It was not until the era of reform (1825 – 1920) when Russia saw changes to its overall social structure. Peasants and the poor were empowered while serfdom was abolished, effectively weakening the power and control of the elite classes. Even though Moscow and St. Petersburg enjoyed a substantial level of peace, it was not the same in the rest of Russia.

The Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, and this marked the dawn of the Soviet Era under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin. There was an extraordinary outburst of social, economic and cultural change. The Soviet Era after Lenin’s death saw unwavering loyalty to communism by leaders like Joseph Stalin and Mikhail Gorbachev, who ferociously developed the nation’s military power.

In December 1991, after Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and other small states broke away, the Soviet Union was dissolved and the Russian Federation was formed. Boris Yeltsin became the first elected President in Russian history, and was later succeeded by Vladimir Putin in 2000. President Putin reassumed the presidency in 2012 after holding the office of Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012.

The Russian ‘White House’. Image credit: ribttes.com

The Russian ‘White House’

 

People and Culture

Russia occupies 11% of the world’s land mass but only 2% of its population. It is home to slightly over 140 million people from more than 160 different ethnic groups. 80% of the population is ethnically Russian and the second-largest single group is the Tatars who make up roughly 3.5%. Russian society is one of the most literate in the world.

Russia’s rich history adds great depth to its customs, literature, visual arts, performing arts (especially ballet and opera) and classical music. It has produced many world-renowned works of literature, for example, Anna Karenina and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Russian dancers have left a bigger impact on the world of ballet than artistes of any other country, while the masterpiece “Swan Lake” arose from the creative genius of the 19th-century Russian composer, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Russians are justifiably very proud of their culture and savour opportunities to share their music, art and history.

“Swan Lake”, a composition by 19th-century Russian, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky is still a popular performance to date. Image credit: chicagotribune.com

“Swan Lake”, a masterpiece by the 19th-century Russian composer, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky is still a popular performance to date. Image credit: Chicago Tribune

Religion has been an important component of Russian life even during times of oppression. Orthodox Christianity is the main religion in Russia, followed by Islam. Buddhism arrived in Russia during the 17th century and firmly established itself in three Russian republics – Buryatia, Kalmykia, and Tuva.

Russians are very fond of competitive sports. Russian athletes consistently perform well at major international sporting events like the Olympic Games. In 2018, Russia played host to the FIFA World Cup, and the event was a huge boost for Russian tourism. Given the natural beauty of the country, its rich and exquisite culture as well as its long history, there were no shortage of sites to visit. Below is a list of some of the best.

 

Places of Interest: Moscow

Moscow, the capital of Russia is one of its most exciting destinations. It was made the national capital in the 14th century but was renamed the Tsardom of Russia in 1713, when the capital was moved to St. Petersburg. Moscow regained the status of capital in 1918.

 

1. The Kremlin

‘Kremlin’ means ‘fortress inside a city’. This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises five palaces, four cathedrals and the Grand Kremlin Palace. The complex serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation but the museums are open to the public. Tickets can be purchased online: www.kreml.ru/en-Us/museums-moscow-kremlin

  • Address: Moscow Kremlin, Moscow, 103073
  • Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Thursday
The Kremlin. Image credit: placesadvise.com/Russia/Moscow

The Kremlin (click to enlarge)

 

2. Red Square

The Red Square had humble beginnings as a slum in the 15th century when it was home to peddlers, criminals and drunks. Battles fought on the square saw it destroyed many times; it earned the name “Fire Square” because of the number of times it was burned down. Today, the Red Square is one of the most famous places in Russia and hosts military parades that showcase Russia’s strength and readiness. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Address: Red Square, Moscow, 109012
  • Opening Hours: All day
Red Square in Moscow, Russia. Image credit: blouse.asik.site/red-square/

Moscow’s Red Square (click to enlarge)

 

3. Saint Basil’s Cathedral

The Cathedral of Vasily (Basil) the Blessed was built between 1555 and 1561 by Ivan the Terrible. It consists of ten churches, eight of which surround the ninth, the Church of Intercession. The tenth was erected in 1588 over the grave of Saint Vasily. The buildings are shaped to resemble the flames of bonfires rising into the sky, and are considered an architectural icon with no parallel in the world.

  • Address: Red Square, Moscow, 109012
  • Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saint Basil's Cathedral. Image credit: suna.e-sim.org

Saint Basil’s Cathedral (click to enlarge)

 

4. Lenin’s Mausoleum

This museum exhibits the embalmed remains of the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, Vladimir Lenin, who passed away in January 1924. The Russian government decided to display his body at the behest of the Russian people, who sent in over 10,000 telegrams to demand that their great leader be preserved for posterity.

  • Address: Krasnaya Ploshchad, Moscow, 109012
  • Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Lenin’s Mausoleum. Image credit: twoeggz.com

Lenin’s Mausoleum (click to enlarge)

 

5. Gorky Park

This park is officially named Maxim Gorky’s Central Park of Culture and Leisure, after the acclaimed author, Maxim Gorky. The beautiful grounds were designed by the avant-garde architect, Konstantin Melnikov. It offers an escape for urbanites through a host of activities like cycling, rollerblading, beach volleyball, extreme sports and table tennis. During the winter, the ponds in the park freeze over and turn into impromptu ice-skating rinks. The park is also a venue for art exhibitions, festivals and even food carnivals.

  • Address: 9 Krymsky Val, Moscow
  • Opening Hours: All day
Gorky Park. Image credit: press.russianews.it/press/нескучно-в-нескучном/

Gorky Park (click to enlarge)

 

6. “Children are the Victims of Adult Vices”

This unusual sculpture by Russian artist Mihail Chemiakin depicts two unassuming children playing, surrounded by thirteen evil statues. The thirteen statues represent alcoholism, exploitation of child labour, indifference, drug addiction, prostitution, sadism, ignorance, pseudoscience, war, poverty, theft, capital punishment and advocating violence.

  • Address: 10 Bolotnaya Ploshchad, Moscow, 119072
  • Opening Hours: All day
“Children are the Victims of Adult Vices”. Image credit: rusmania.com

“Children are the Victims of Adult Vices” (click to enlarge)

 

7. Bunker 42 (Tagansky Protected Command Point)

Built after the Soviet Union successfully performed its first nuclear test, this secret cold-war bunker was constructed beneath the city streets near the Kremlin. It is a magnificent tunnel system capable of withstanding a nuclear fallout but, thankfully, was never put to use. Today, Bunker 42 is a historical monument and a popular tourist attraction.

  • Address: 5-Y Kotel’nicheskiy Pereulok, 11, Moscow, 115172
  • Opening Hours: By appointment
Model of Bunker 42 (Tagansky Protected Command Point). Image credit: wikipedia

A model of Bunker 42 (click to enlarge)

 

8. Opera and Ballet

With a history of performing arts as rich as Russia’s, opera and ballet performances here are the epitome of classical as well as contemporary theatrical expression. Look out for these theatres to catch an unforgettable performance.
The Bolshoi Theatre

  • Address: 1 Teatralnaya Square
  • Contact: +7495 455 5555

The Satirikon Theatre

  • Address: 8 Sheremetyevskaya Ulitsa
  • Contact: +7495 602 6583

The Stanislavsky Theatre

  • Address: 23 Tverskaya Street
  • Contact: +7495 215 0067

 

Places of Interest: St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703. It was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than 200 years (1712 to 1918) and is home to many grand buildings and monuments.

 

1. Hermitage Museum (Winter Palace)

The Hermitage Museum, founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, is the world’s largest museum and attracts 3.5 million visitors each year. It houses 3 million masterpieces from every branch of fine art, collected over two and a half centuries. You can find rare pieces from masters like Rembrandt, da Vinci, Michelangelo and Picasso. It is a must-visit and ranks alongside the Louvre of Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Prado Museum of Madrid as one of the world’s premier destinations for art lovers.

  • Address: Palace Square, 2, St. Petersburg, 190000
  • Opening Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday. Closed on Monday.
Hermitage Museum (also known as Winter Palace). Image Credit: dreamstime.com

Hermitage Museum (click to enlarge)

 

2. The Palace Square

The Palace Square, bordered by the Winter Palace to the south, is marked by the Alexander Column at its centre. The column stands 47.5 metres tall and weighs about 600 tonnes. It is a free-standing structure, i.e., it stands on its own without a foundation.

  • Address: Dvortsovaya Ploshchad, St. Petersburg 190000
  • Opening Hours: All day
The Palace Square.Image credit: saint-petersburg.com/

The Palace Square (click to enlarge)

 

3. Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood

This church was built between 1883 and 1907 on the site where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated by political nihilists in 1881. Construction began during the reign of Alexander III as a memorial to his father.

  • Address: 2, Naberezhnaya Kanala Griboedova, St. Petersburg, 191186
  • Opening Hours: 10.30 a.m. to 6 p.m, extended to 10.30 p.m. in summer. Closed on Wednesday.
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood. Image credit: no-news.co/destination/magazine

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (click to enlarge)

 

4. Peterhof Grand Palace

This grand palace was built on the orders of Peter the Great during the 17th century. It consists of several palaces, pavilions and gardens. The buildings are decorated with large paintings and exquisite works of art that give a glimpse into the splendour of Russia’s past.

  • Address: Razvodnaya Ulitsa, 2, St Petersburg, 198516
  • Opening Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; extended to 10 p.m. on weekends
Peterhof Grand Palace.Image credit: thedailymeal.com

Peterhof Grand Palace (click to enlarge)

 

5. Mariinsky Opera and Ballet Theatre

Operating since 1860, the renowned Mariinsky Theatre has staged masterpieces from Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.

  • Address: 1 Theatre Square, St Petersburg
  • Opening Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Mariinsky Theatre. Image credit: wikipedia

Mariinsky Theatre (click to enlarge)

 

Places of Interest: Beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg

The vast lands of Russia are a treasure trove of fascinating discoveries for intrepid travellers who love nature as well as those who appreciate stunning architecture. Here is a list of spectacular sites beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg that everyone can explore.

 

1. Mount Elbrus

Mount Elbrus, a dormant volcano, is the highest mountain in Europe. Situated in southern Russia close to the border with Georgia, it has two summits. The taller one stands at 5,642 metres high and the other at 5,621 metres. The peaks are permanent icecaps and feed 22 glaciers which give rise to multiple rivers.

Distance from Moscow: 1,422 kilometres
Getting There: Take a flight to the nearest town, Mineralnye Vody.

Mount Elbrus. Image credit: stingynomads.com

Mount Elbrus (click to enlarge)

 

2. Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world and contains 23% of the world’s freshwater. Located in southern Siberia, it is home to thousands of plant and animal species as well as the Buryat tribes. The lake is surrounded by mountains and is a sight to behold.

Distance from Moscow: 5,195 kilometres
Getting There: Take a flight to the nearest town, Irkutsk.

Lake Baikal. Image credit: beautifulworld.com

Lake Baikal (click to enlarge)

 

3. Suzdal

This is the oldest town in Russia, established in the 11th century. In the 12th century, it became the Vladimir-Suzdal Principality when Moscow was merely a minor satellite town. The town is home to many historical monuments like the Medieval Suzdal Kremlin and the Cathedral of the Nativity.

Distance from Moscow: 222 kilometres

Suzdal. Image credit: tourofmoscow.com

Suzdal (click to enlarge)

 

4. Kirillov

The town of Kirillov has been famous since Soviet times for the massive Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery which was founded in 1397. The town rose up around the monastery, which gradually developed to house 12 churches and the exquisite Assumption Cathedral surrounded by a three-storey fortress.

Distance from Moscow: 594 kilometres

Kirillov

Kirillov

 

5. Kizhi Island

This six-kilometre-long island is situated on Lake Onega in the Republic of Karelia. The settlements and churches on the island were founded in the 15th century. It used to be a rural mining centre and most of the population worked as miners or in iron plants. Today, the island with its 80 historical wooden structures, including two major churches and a bell tower is an open-air museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Distance from Moscow: 715 kilometres
Getting There: Take a flight to the nearest town, Sheremetyevo.

Kizhi Island. Image credit: volgadream.com

Kizhi Island. Image credit: volgadream.com

 

6. St. Sophia Cathedral, Novgorod

St. Sophia Cathedral of Novgorod is the oldest church in Russia, built between 1045 and 1050 by Vladimir of Novgorod. Standing 38 metres tall, it has five domes and served as the spiritual centre of Novgorod from the 12th to the 15th century.

Distance from Moscow: 563 kilometres

St. Sophia Cathedral, Novgorod. Image credit: wikipedia.org

St. Sophia Cathedral, Novgorod (click to enlarge)

 

7. The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni of Kalmykia

In Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, stands a giant Buddha statue and the biggest Buddhist temple in the whole of Europe. The temple, also known as the New Khurul or Burkhan Bagshin Altan Sume, was consecrated in December 2005. Tourists can visit the mandala-shaped compound, the balcony around the temple and the museum on the ground floor. It also houses the holy robes of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

Distance from Moscow: 1,412 km.
Getting There: Take a flight to the nearest town, Elista.

The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni of Kalmykia. Image credit: buddhistdoor.net

The Golden Abode of Buddha Shakyamuni of Kalmykia (click to enlarge)

 

Shopping

When thinking of shopping havens, Russia may not immediately spring to mind but there are several specialty items that are worth buying if you happen to be passing through.

 

Matryoshkas (Nesting Dolls)

Matryoshkas are painted to look like women in traditional Russian costumes. Typical Matryoshkas contain seven or eight dolls and they make good souvenirs. Collector’s items can be found in upscale souvenir or specialty shops.

Matryoshkas. Image credit: canacopegdl.com

Matryoshkas

 

Khokhloma

Khokhloma is a painted wooden handicraft item, famous for its flower patterns. It is usually applied to wooden tableware in gold, red and green colours against a black or dark background.

Khokhloma. Image credit: russianlegacy.com

Khokhloma

 

Porcelain

Russian imperial porcelain is famous around the world. These hand-painted ceramic items have a history that dates back to the 18th century. The most popular items are teacups, saucers and decorative plates.

Porcelain. Image credit: fromrussia.com

Russian imperial porcelain

 

Malachite

This beautiful green gemstone is mined in the Ural region of Russia and a few other places. They make exquisite brooches and jewellery. Malachite is considered to be a stone of transformation and is believed to stimulate spiritual growth.

Stunning jewellery box made of Russian Malachite. Image credit: viola.bz/russian-malachite

A stunning jewellery box made of Russian malachite

 

Art

Many street vendors sell beautiful art that is worthy of a place on your wall. Russia has no shortage of prestige artworks for serious collectors too.

Stunning Russian art piece. Image credit: electrummagazine.com

Stunning Russian art piece

 

Vodka

Russia is a haven for vodka aficionados. Any supermarket will offer a higher quality and better selection of vodkas than anywhere else in the world.

 Russian Vodka in various bottles and cups. Image credit: wikipedia

Russian vodka in various bottles and cups

 

Caviar

Russia produces some of the best caviar in the world. Be sure to only buy from reputable vendors who can attest that it has been produced legally. Illegal caviar production is a cruel process.

The most expensive kind of the Russian caviar is the Russian Beluga caviar. Image credit: markys.com

The most expensive caviar is the Russian Beluga caviar

 

Recommended Shopping Destinations

Izmailovsky Market – This is Moscow’s best flea market and you can find all sorts of souvenirs and handicrafts here.

  • Address: 73 Parkovaya St, Moscow, 613310
  • Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends
Izmailovsky Market. Image credit: russiau.com

Izmailovsky Market

GUM – Russia’s main chain of departmental stores. Moscow GUM hosts more than 200 glamorous boutiques.

  • Address: 3 Red Square, Moscow, 109012
  • Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Interior of GUM departmental store. Image credit: gumrussia.com

The interior of GUM departmental store

Arbat Street – The perfect place to find bohemian-style artists and peddlers wooing the crowd. Enjoy the beautiful Russian architecture and savour the chance to indulge in the local food scene.

  • Address: Arbat Street, Moscow,121069
  • Opening Hours: All day
Arbat Street (January 2016). Image credit: wikipedia

Arbat Street (January 2016)

Kupetz Eliseevs – Dubbed the most elegant grocery store, it offers plenty of branded items as well as handmade chocolates and pastries.

  • Address: 56, Nevsky Prospekt, or 8, Malaya Sadovaya Street
  • Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Kupetz Eliseevs (2013). Image credit: wikipedia

Kupetz Eliseevs (2013)

Au Pont Rouge – A historical departmental store established in 1906, it now houses many boutiques and cafes.

  • Address: Embankment River Moyka, 73, St. Petersburg, 190000
  • Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Au Pont Rouge. Image credit: inyourpocket.com/st-petersburg-en

Au Pont Rouge

 

Russian Cuisine

Russian cuisine is diverse, reflecting the different culinary traditions of its multi-ethnic population. The main ingredients of Russian cuisine are fish, pork, poultry, caviar, mushrooms, berries and honey. The staple diet of everyday people is bread made of rye, barley, wheat and millet. Even though Russia is famous for its vodka, Medovukha, a honey-based beverage with a lower alcoholic content is popular, too.

 

Appetizers

  • Shichi is a hot soup made of cabbage, onion, meat and mushrooms and it is served with rye bread. It is enjoyed by people of every class.
  • Borscht is a hot soup made of broth, beets and beef. It is served very hot with sour cream, chopped chives or parsley, and crushed garlic. Sometimes, the sour cream is replaced by mayonnaise. It is traditionally eaten with black bread.
  • Okroshka is a cold soup which uses lime milk as its base. Okroshka can also be treated as a salad as the main ingredients are potato, turnip, rutabaga, carrot and fresh cucumber. Fish or poultry can be added, too.
Borscht soup. Image credit: russia-travel-guide.com

Russian borscht

  • Olivier salad, also known as Russian Salad, is mayonnaise-based and contains potatoes, pickles, hard-boiled eggs, carrots, cooked meat and peas. The ingredients are diced, as this is how Russians like their salads. It is one of the main dishes of the New Year feast.
  • Shuba salad is another name for dressed herring. It is salted herring chopped and dressed under layers of shredded cooked beets, eggs and vegetables.
Olivier salad. Image credit: wikipedia

Olivier salad

 

Main Courses

Minced meat, boiled meat, offal and fowl are the basic ingredients of meat-based main dishes popular with Russians. A meat dish is usually accompanied by pickled vegetables. A variety of vegetables may be used but the most popular is pickled cabbage. Russian Orthodox Christians observe the tradition of eating fish instead of meat on Fridays or fast days.

  • Pelmeni is a traditional dumpling dish usually made with minced meat wrapped in thin dough. Onions, garlic and spices like pepper are mixed into the filling to enhance the taste. Pelmeni is boiled and served with butter, sour cream, mustard, horseradish or vinegar, depending on preference.
  • Beef Stroganoff is made by sautéing pieces of beef to perfection. It is served in sauce with sour cream.
  • Coulibiac is a type of Russian pirog (pie) filled with salmon or sturgeon and rice, buckwheat, hardboiled eggs, mushrooms, onions and dill.
Pelmeni.Image credit: /goldvoice.club

Pelmeni

Coulibiac. Image credit: taste.com.au

Coulibiac

 

Desserts and Pastries

  • Kissel is made of fruit soaked in thickened and sweetened juices, and can be served as a dessert or a drink. It can be eaten on its own or served on pancakes or with ice cream.
  • Syrniki is a small fried pancake made with a cheese mixture, garnished with sour cream, jam and honey or apple sauce. It is sweet and has a creamy texture. Traditionally, it is served as a dessert or breakfast.
Russian syrniki with kissel. Image credit: wikipedia

Russian syrniki with kissel

 

Beverages

Russians love their alcohol. In a 2010 study, it was reported that the average Russian drank about 12.5 litres of pure alcohol, of which more than 5 litres was vodka and 4 litres was beer. Less common alcoholic beverages that remain popular with the Russians are:

  • Medovukha, an alcoholic beverage similar to mead, which is made from fermenting honey.
  • Tarasun, an alcoholic beverage prepared by fermenting mare’s milk. It is traditionally enjoyed in the Buryatia region of Siberia. It is also used by the Buryat people during religious ceremonies.
Medovukha. Image credit: rbth.com

Medovukha

Russians take their non-alcoholic drinks seriously, too. Here are a few that never go out of fashion in Russia.

  • Kvas is a traditional Eastern European beverage made from rye bread. Even though it contains 0.5% to 1% alcohol, it is a non-alcoholic drink by Russian standards. Strawberries, raisins or mint can be added for flavour.
  • Mors is a sweetened fruit drink which can be prepared from lingonberries, cranberries, blueberries, strawberries or raspberries. It is often added to cocktails for flavour.
  • Sbiten is a traditional hot drink usually served in winter. It can be spicy or sweet, depending on the recipe. The main ingredients are water, honey, spices and jam. Some replace water with red wine to make it an alcoholic drink.
  • Varenets or Stewler is a fermented milk product with a sweet caramel taste and creamy texture. The traditional way of making this drink is by baking milk in the oven and then fermenting it with sour cream.

 

Recommended Food Destinations

Expect to spend USD30 to USD45 for a decent lunch or dinner at good restaurants. Tipping is expected; please give the waiter 10% to 15% of the total bill.

 

Arbat Street

This historical street offers lots of cafés, restaurants and eateries that feature live performances.

  • Address: Arbat St, Moskva, 119002
  • Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends

 

Lepim i Varim

A good restaurant with an English menu that serves top quality Pelmeni.

  • Address: Stoleshnikov Ln., 9/1, Moscow 107031
  • Opening Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., advanced booking is recommended to avoid disappointment as the restaurant is very popular.

 

Palkin

The setting of the restaurant takes you back in time to the tsarist era. It serves a top quality Russian menu.

  • Address: Nevsky Prospekt 47
  • Opening Hours: 12 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

 

Café Idiot

This café-restaurant is named for Dostoyevsky’s novel, The Idiot. It serves vegetarian versions of popular Russian dishes in a pre-Revolution setting.

  • Address: Nab r Moyki 82
  • Opening Hours: 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Entrance to Café Idiot. Image credit: tripadvisor

Entrance to Café Idiot

 

Russian Festivals

Russia hosts a rich list of unique festivals every year.

 

January and February

  • Russian Orthodox Christmas, 6th and 7th January: The Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated by almost all Russians on 6th and 7th January. This festival was only openly observed in 1992 after a long ban following the 1917 Revolution. 6th January is Christmas Eve and families traditionally gather for a holy supper and attend church the next day.
  • Tatyana’s Day, 25th January: Tatyana’s Day is also known as the Russian Students’ Day. Russian society values education and academic achievements, and it is no wonder that they celebrate Tatyana’s Day with great enthusiasm. The festival started in 1755 when Empress Elizabeth of Russia signed a decree to establish Moscow State University on the feast day of the Christian martyr, St. Tatyana. Students celebrate with traditional honey-based mead.
Moscow State University. Image credit: ribttes.com

Moscow State University. Image credit: ribttes.com

  • International Festival of Snow and Ice Sculpture, January: This international competition takes place on the banks of the Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk, the third largest city in Siberia. Teams of sculptors and artists from all over Russia and the rest of the world create massive and impressive works of art using either snow or ice.
  • Maslenitsa Festivals, February, seven weeks before Easter: These week-long celebrations are a combination of pagan tradition and Christian faith. They encompass many activities, feasting and merrymaking. The activities include crafting Maslenitsa dolls from straw and old clothes, making and feasting on pancakes (blinis), sledging, singing, fist fights, visiting relatives, exchanging gifts and drinking tea and vodka. The Maslenitsa dolls are burned on the final day and people jump over the bonfires for good luck.
Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration. Image credit: ribttes.com

Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration (click to enlarge)

 

March and April

  • Easter, April: Russian Easter sees families bake round, sweet breads and Easter cakes that are served with sweetened curd, butter and raisins. Children will be busy painting Easter eggs. Church bells toll at Easter dawn and families make their way to the beautifully-lit and decorated churches.
  • Golden Mask Theatre Festival, April: This festival is an all-Russian theatre competition and its award ceremony is held in Moscow. It was established in 1993 and has been celebrated annually since. Competitions cover every genre from drama to modern dance to puppet shows.
Easter eggs which is an integral item during Easter celebration. Image credit: triaxsys.com

Easter eggs are an integral item during Easter celebrations (click to enlarge)

 

May, June and July

  • White Night Festival in St. Petersburg, May to June: Because St. Petersburg is located so far north, the sun never fully sets here between May and mid-June, and can be seen on the horizon even at midnight. This becomes the perfect backdrop for the annual White Night Festival. There are art exhibitions and carnivals, as well as dance and art performances by Russian and international artists. The Mariinsky Theatre hosts a programme of more than 175 opera, ballet and classical music concerts. Carnivals in the suburbs re-enact historical events with actors dressed in grand costumes. It is truly a festival not to be missed.
  • Victory Day, 9th May: Victory Day celebrates the end of World War II and is marked by military parades and fireworks. Russia’s superior military strength is on full display at the main parade at the Red Square in Moscow.
  • Taste of Moscow, July: This is a foodie’s haven. Moscow’s best restaurants open their doors for three days of masterclasses and food-tasting sessions. Special entertainment zones and children’s menus are prepared for families with young children so the festival can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
  • Ivan Kupala Night, 6th to 7th July: ‘Ivan’ is Russian for ‘John’ and ‘Kupala’ is the Slavic word for bathing. Thus, Ivan Kupala Night commemorates John the Baptist. Girls wear flowers or herb wreaths on their heads during the day and redecorate the wreaths into candle holders that will be set afloat on the river at night. The wreath that travels the farthest is said to bring happiness, luck and health to the bearer. There are bonfires and fireworks too.
Ivan Kupala Night. Image credit: meettheslavs.com

Ivan Kupala Night (click to enlarge)

 

August, September and October

  • Afisha Picnic, August: The oldest and best-known music festival in Russia is a one-day event held in Moscow on the grounds of the former Tsar’s estate at Kolomenskoye. In the past, it has featured major international performers like Kaiser Chiefs, Courtney Love, Jamiroquai and Madness.
  • Golden Autumn, October: Golden Autumn is an agricultural exhibition that has been held by the Russian Federation for the past 18 years. The highlights of the festival include culinary shows, concerts and a huge gastronomic fair that presents delicious products like cheese, fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. It is held in the beautifully decorated streets and squares of Moscow, including Revolution Square, Manege Square, Tverskaya Square and Stoleshnikov Lane.
18th Russian Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn. Image credit: vdnh.ru

18th Russian Agricultural Exhibition or Golden Autumn (click to enlarge)

 

November and December

  • Winter Festival, November and December: Most Russian cities celebrate the Winter Festival as a cultural event and the biggest of these is held in Moscow. There are folk song performances, concerts, fashion shows, dances, ice skating, and sled and three-horse sleigh rides all around the city. Ice sculpture displays and street food carnivals add to the merry atmosphere.
  • New Year’s Eve, 31st December: New Year’s Eve celebrations are very popular in Russia. Ded Moroz (Father Frost) and his granddaughter, Snegurochka (Snow Maiden) deliver gifts to children. Families will feast, listen to the President’s New Year speech and watch the midnight countdown of the Kremlin clock, much like the Times Square tradition in the United States.
Beautiful ornaments on display during Russia Winter Festival. Image credit: tripsavvy.com

Beautiful ornaments on display during Russia’s Winter Festival (click to enlarge)

 

Uniquely Russia

Not every Russian fits the stereotype, but the beauty of travel lies in unique discoveries that are distinctively local.

  • Russians and vodka: Almost every Russian enjoys drinking vodka and has a bottle or more at home.
  • Babushkas: Elderly Russian women with colourful scarves wrapped around their heads. Russian children call their grandmothers ‘babushka’.
  • Straight to the point: Russians have a serious demeanour and dislike beating about the bush. Small talk and niceties are uncommon.
  • All dressed up: Russians will not let any opportunity to dress up and be flashy go to waste. Ladies can most often be seen in high heels, glittery dresses and fur coats while gentlemen are smartly dressed and well-groomed.
  • Russian clubs: Clubs, especially those in Moscow, are pricey. The doorman will not hesitate to turn away guests who are not sufficiently well-dressed.

 

Etiquette and Customs

The Russians have inherited distinctive traditions that allow them to stand out from their European counterparts. Here are some of the Dos and Don’ts when visiting Russia.

 

Meetings

  • When strangers meet, a firm, almost bone-crushing handshake while maintaining direct eye contact is the typical greeting from Russian men. Women’s handshakes are less firm.
  • When female friends meet, they kiss on the cheek three times, starting with the left and then right cheek and back to the left.
  • When close male friends meet, they pat each other on the back and hug.
  • Russian names usually consist of a first, middle and last name (family name). In formal situations, people use all three. Close friends or family members may use only the first name.
  • Arrive on time and dress well when visiting a Russian home as a sign of respect to the host. Take off your shoes when entering.
  • Foreigners’ attempts to speak Russian are highly appreciated.

 

Dining

  • When invited to a Russian home for a meal, bring a small gift. Male guests are expected to bring flowers – but not yellow flowers.
  • Offer to assist the hostess with the preparation before the meal or the cleaning up afterwards. It is common for her to turn down the request, but persist by asking, “Are you sure?”
  • Table manners are continental, meaning that the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right.
  • Do not begin eating until the host invites you to start; usually, the most senior or honoured guest is served first.
  • It is common practice for men to pour drinks for women seated next to them.
  • At formal dinners, the guest of honour is the first to get up from the table after the meal, and after being invited by the host to do so.
  • Leave behind a small quantity of food on the plate as a gesture that the hosts have provided bounteous hospitality.

 

Business Etiquette

  • Russians are business-oriented, meaning that they do not need to establish a long and close relationship before they conduct business.
  • However, friends or connections in high places are often necessary to cut through the red tape.
  • Make appointments as far ahead as possible. Be punctual.
  • During business meetings, expect a long period of socialising and chit-chat before business is discussed.
  • Russians expect extensive presentations on the business subject, including history and a review of existing and competing business models.
  • Business meetings and discussions can be slow as Russians do not like to be rushed. They will not hesitate to use time to their advantage if they know that you have a deadline to meet.

 

Climate

Russia is known for its cold weather; at the peak of winter, the temperature dips as low as 60°C or 70°C below zero. The country is exposed to extremes of temperature due to the vastness of the land as well as the absence of large mountain ranges. This makes it hard to define its climate. Along the northern coasts, the climate is subarctic with cold summers and even colder, long winters. In sheltered inlets like Moscow, the climate is continental and not as harsh.

Winter in Russia. Image credit: tur-region.ru/tours

Winter in Russia. Image credit: tur-region.ru

  • Spring (March to May): The temperature is fine, between 2°C to 18°C (in Moscow). The trees start to turn green. The sun shines brightly but it rains on occasion.
    What to wear: A sweater or jacket is recommended. Wear warmer clothing in the evenings.
  • Summer (June to August): Summer sees long days and short nights. The temperature hovers around 20°C to 23°C (in Moscow). Flowers blossom and gardens, parks, and forests are full of berries and fruit.
    What to wear: Bring t-shirts and shorts for hot days, and light jackets or sweaters for the evenings and cooler days. Have a raincoat or umbrella handy.
  • Autumn (September to November): Temperatures are cooler in autumn; it drops gradually from 15°C to 0°C but the weather is unpredictable. It can be sunny at times and rainy at others. The days start to turn shorter and the nights, longer. In some parts of Russia, it is already very cold by autumn while it rains often in Moscow.
    What to wear: Bring warm clothes, a down jacket, hat and gloves.
  • Winter (December to February): Temperatures are very low, between -5°C and -30°C and it snows often. The days are short while the nights are long. Snow is everywhere. Rivers and lakes are frozen. It is the best time for skating and skiing.
    What to wear: Bring warm winter clothing like thermal wear, down jackets, fleeces, parkas, windbreakers, and warm boots.

 

Where to Stay

Visitors are spoilt for choice of accommodation in major Russian cities and there are options ranging from the most basic to the most luxurious. We recommend that you do further research to find one that best fits your budget and requirements.

 

Moscow

The St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya (5-star)

An elegant luxury hotel ideally located for leisure travellers, it is a 10-minute walk from the Kremlin, Red Square and other popular tourist sites. Some of the rooms offer a spectacular view of the Kremlin.

  • Address: Ulitsa Nikolskaya 12, Tverskoy, 109012 Moscow

 

Hotel Nikolsky Red Square (3-star)

A perfectly-located loft-style hotel within a two-minute walk of the Kremlin and Red Square, a seven-minute walk from the Bolshoi Theatre, a one-minute walk from the GUM departmental store and a few minutes from Tearalnaya Metro Station.

  • Address: Nikolskaya Ulitsa 4/5, Tverskoy, 109012 Moscow

 

Brick Design Hotel (4-star)

A boutique hotel within walking distance of major tourist sites; 1.2 km away from the Bolshoi Theatre and 1.3 km away from the GUM departmental store. The Kremlin and Red Square are also both within walking distance.

  • Address: Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, 24/7 Bldg.3, Basmanny, 101000 Moscow
Brick Design Hotel. Image credit: tripadvisor

Brick Design Hotel

 

St. Petersburg

Aglaya Hotel & Courtyard (3-star)

A stylish hotel located in the Tsentralny district, within walking distance of the Winter Palace and other tourist sites.

  • Address: Razyezzhaya Ulitsa 38, Tsentralny district, 191119 St. Petersburg

 

Graffiti L Hostel (2-star)

A boutique hotel located in the Tsentralny district, within walking distance of the Hermitage Museum and other popular tourist sites. Guests are welcome to cook their own meals in the common kitchen.

  • Address:Address: Ligovsky Avenue 33-35, Tsentralny district, 191036 St. Petersburg

 

The State Hermitage Museum Official Hotel (5-star)

This exclusive hotel recreates the atmosphere of the Hermitage Museum with elegant design and furnishings. It is within walking distance of the Hermitage Museum and the lively Nevsky Prospekt, as well as other tourist sites.

  • Address:Address: Ulitsa Pravdy 10, Tsentralny district, 191119 St. Petersburg
The State Hermitage Museum Official Hotel. Image credit: thehermitagehotel.ru

The State Hermitage Museum Official Hotel

 

Getting There

 

By Air

Many airlines fly to Moscow and St. Petersburg daily. Moscow’s three international airports handle five million foreign tourists annually while the one in St. Petersburg handles three million.

Among the biggest airlines that fly direct to Moscow are Emirates, Singapore Airlines, China Southern, British Airways and, of course, the Russian national carrier, Aeroflot. The international airports that serve these airlines are:

  • Sheremetyevo Airport, 29 kilometres from Moscow city centre
  • Vnukovo Airport, 28 kilometres from Moscow city centre
  • Domodedovo Airport, 41 kilometres from Moscow city centre
  • Pulkovo International Airport, 24 kilometres from St. Petersburg city centre

 

By Rail

One of the world’s most famous, most scenic and most romantic train trips is the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow all the way across Russia to Vladivostok. There is also an alternative route connecting to Beijing, China. It is probably the best way to experience the many cultures and see the spectrum of gorgeous landscapes that Russia has to offer.

An 8,000-kilometre Trans-Siberian one-way second class ticket from Moscow to Beijing costs USD690. There are a few ways to make a booking; weigh the advantages and disadvantages for your travel needs.

  • Buy at the train station – Note that international tickets are often fully-booked weeks ahead
  • Buy online – from sites like realrussia.co.uk or seat61.com
  • Buy through travel agencies – be sure to use reputable ones

 

Visas

Tourists need a visa to visit Russia. Usually, travel agencies will be able to provide this service but it is good to understand the visa application process, especially if you are travelling independently. There are three steps to the visa application:

Step 1

Tourists staying in Russia for up to 30 days need to obtain an invitation (also known as a visa support letter). The invitation can be obtained online within 24 hours for a fee of USD30. The traveller will be provided with a softcopy and an original hardcopy can be sent by post if required. For business travel, the processing time is longer – up to 18 working days – and costs more, between USD80 to USD300.

Step 2

Once the invitation is ready, prepare the following documents for the visa application:

  • Passport
  • Two passport-sized photographs
  • Visa application form (available online)
  • Consulate-specific documents, for example, health insurance, letter from employer, and so on.

Step 3

Submit the above documents to the Russian Consulate. This can be done in person or through a travel agent. The processing time varies and it can take up to 15 days and cost as much as USD300.

And then, bon voyage!

Every traveller must register their visa within seven working days of arrival in Russia.

  • If staying at a hotel: The hotel will register your visa for a fee of USD0.50 to USD20.
  • If staying in private accommodation: Complete a special registration form and submit it at any post office or immigration authority for a fee of USD5. Bring along your original passport and related documents.

 

Getting Around

You can rent a car in most Russian cities but this is not recommended for foreigners as road signs are all in Russian.

  • By Metro – The Metro usually runs from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. and is an easy and affordable way of getting around big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. There are different ticket options, ranging from single rides to day passes and more. Prepare ahead of time by printing out metro maps in English.
  • By Bus, Marshrutka, Trolleybus or Tram – Public transport services are not a problem in major cities. A stop or station is marked by an ‘A’ for bus and marshrutka (minibus), ‘T’ for trolleybus and ‘ТРАМВАЙ’ for tram. Prepare small change in advance and give your fare to the conductor or driver.
  • By Taxi – Taxis are not as common as other modes of transport. Download a taxi app on your phone to get better service. Otherwise, hailing a taxi on the street still works – just remember to agree on the fare and destination before getting into the vehicle.

 

Suggested Books

Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia by David Greene

Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia by David Greene

This book chronicles David Greene’s journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a 6,000-mile cross-country trip from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok.

In the train cabins and stopover towns dotted across the snowy landscape, the author speaks with ordinary Russians about their lives and the changes in the post-Soviet years. These accounts offer a glimpse of the new Russia with its newfound prosperity, but which continues to endure oppression, corruption, and stark inequality.
Learn to Read Russian in 5 Days by Sergei Orlov

Learn to Read Russian in 5 Days by Sergei Orlov

This book teaches the Russian alphabet in a systematic way. It claims that anyone can learn the Russian alphabet in only 5 days and also includes more than 150 Russian words carefully selected to be of maximum benefit

 

Sources

  • https://www.advantour.com/russia/general.htm
  • https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/european-russia
  • http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/ce_ru.htm
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kievan_Rus%27
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_architecture
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_cuisine
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia#Soviet_Union
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_the_Great
  • https://www.expatica.com/ru/about/Top-festivals-in-Moscow-Russia_507821.html
  • http://missinglink.ucsf.edu/lm/russia_guide/historyofrussia.htm
  • http://park-gorkogo.com/en/what-to-do
  • https://www.smartertravel.com/2017/06/19/getting-around-russia-transportation-tips/
  • http://speakworld.narod.ru/topic14.htm
  • http://www.touropia.com/tourist-attractions-in-russia/
  • http://www.touropia.com/small-towns-in-russia/
  • https://www.tripsavvy.com/what-not-to-buy-in-russia-1622512
  • https://waytorussia.net/Travel/VisaSupport.html
  • http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/russia-population/

 

For more interesting information:

 

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Stella Cheang
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About Stella Cheang

Stella was introduced to Kechara in late 2013 through social media, and found the array of activities and learning opportunities to be meaningful, unique and refreshing. Having decided to pursue her spiritual journey with Kechara, she has volunteered with Kechara Sunday Dharma School as a teacher for young children from the age of 2 to 4, and as a writer for the tsemrinpoche.com team.
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6 Responses to Wonderful Russia

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  1. Cc on Nov 25, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing.

    The architecture are amazing and it has its own unique design and historical.
    I am always amaze by all the colourful architecture.
    🙏🙏🙏

  2. Wai Meng Wan on Nov 22, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Russian environment is quite challenging for one to live in, and it contains some of the harshest environment on the planet. Russian history has been quite turbulent too, during the fall of Tsars and also during World War 2. Russian straddles the Asian and European continents and receives influence from both continents.

    Yet despite all the difficulties and darkness Russians have gone through, they somehow find their way through and survive somehow. Very tough people these Russians.

  3. Sarah on Nov 12, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    A wonderful guide to “Wonderful Russia.” It is very well-researched and presented in an interesting and attractive manner, with lots of beautiful pictures. I enjoyed reading this article with so much information and useful tips. It even recommends a book for learning to read Russian in 5 days! How wonderful! Thank you!

  4. Tsa Tsa Ong on Nov 7, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Wonderful Russia with so many interesting historical sites and delicious looking foods. Thank you Rinpoche and Stella for the lovely write up and pictures! 🙏😘👍

  5. Guy on Nov 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm

    This is really a great guide to explore Russia, wish I found your website before.
    Thanks!

  6. Samfoonheei on Nov 4, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Russia also known as Land of the Rus is the world’s largest nation. Having shared borders with European and Asian countries as well as the Pacific and Arctic oceans. Its has a beautiful landscape ranges from tundra and forests to subtropical beaches. Russia is home to a large number of ecosystems and species. Its seems that the vast forests has provided a home for the many rare animals such as the Siberian tiger, the largest cat in the world. It has along history dated back to the 9th century. Its culture itself is fantastic with a rich cultural history, steeped in literature, ballet, painting and classical music. Amazing …Russia has a very visual cultural past, from its colourful folk costumes to its ornate religious symbols. I love looking at their beautiful and unique folk costumes. I have not been to Russia before but heard of the beautiful historic, architecture buildings such as Saint Basil’s Cathedral with its colourful architectural style and so forth. Its capital Moscow is Europe’s most populated inland city. The famous St. Petersburg, founded by Russian leader Peter the Great, is a place worth visiting . Its now part of the State Hermitage Museum’s art collection. There are more beautiful place to see especially those with ancient architecture design of the centuries dated back to the AD’s.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Stella Cheang for this wonderful detail post.

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  • S.Prathap
    Tuesday, Jun 25. 2019 03:05 PM
    Thank you for the nice and beautiful article about Vietnam .Really fantastic and the food also look delicious and yummy .Vietnam capital city Hanoi is consistently ranked among the world s top holiday destination

    A stunning landscape ,beautiful beaches and vibrant shopping scene are all great reason to travel Vietnam.Thank you for a good write up which will be helpful for plan a visit to Vietnam.

    Read more : https://bit.ly/2Yd6GO6
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Jun 25. 2019 03:03 PM
    Wow…. That’s great finally science has finally proves meridians do exist. I am doubtful about it until reading this article and google more of it, have opened my knowledge . The meridian system is a concept in traditional Chinese medicine . It was at the Seoul National University, scientists has confirmed that the primo –vascular system is a crucial part of our cardiovascular system. Our meridians span throughout our body and thus are linked to every major part of it. When there is harmony and balance within our body we are healthy and if its disturbed and unbalance , then illness will arises. Interesting read and there’s plenty for me to understand . Modern science is finally working hand in hand with ancient knowledge with tradition way of treating illness. That’s wonderful.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/science-finally-proves-meridians-exist.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Jun 25. 2019 03:02 PM
    Since young, I used to read and hear about mermaid in books and so forth. All I knew ,mermaid is a creature with heard and upper body of a female human. But do not know further than that until I read this interesting and facts about it in this blog. Many cultures have their own versions of mermaids, There are indeed so many folklore stories, legends and myths of mermaids from different countries and each defer from each other all around the world. Mermaids have fascinated people for centuries and inspired many sightings by individuals. Do it really exist , no one could tell. There is no evidence that mermaids exist outside folklore, reports of mermaid sightings continue to the present day. Well, it seem that mermaids have been a popular subject of art and literature in schools . They have even been depicted in operas, paintings, books, films and comics. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this interesting sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/paranormal/creatures-and-monsters/the-legend-of-the-mermaids.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Jun 25. 2019 02:59 PM
    Through the words of Ribur Rinpoche we are fortunate to get a better understanding of a great master, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche. To see the image of these Enlightened Beings, to hear their names, is so rare and precious for us. Tsem Rinpoche our Guru who received the dharma from the unbroken lineage of these great masters and we are very fortunate to receive teachings and oral transmissions from Tsem Rinpoche. Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche been devoted to his guru has inspired, and benefited many through his teachings up to this day. Many great master and high lamas were his students.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing the memoir of Ribur Rinpoche’s profound meeting with Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/ribur-rinpoches-profound-meeting-with-kyabje-pabongka-rinpoche.html
  • Ummamageswari
    Tuesday, Jun 25. 2019 01:50 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. It is true that divination is one of the ways for enlightened beings and Buddhas communicate with ordinary beings. Just because we can consult Dorje Shugden through divination, it does not mean we should go to the Protector for everything under the sun.

    Dorje Shugden himself prefers to see we try to solve our own problems first without relying on divination at the very beginning. Dorje Shugden is most pleased when we use our own effort and intelligence to be practical and solve our problems as best as we can.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2KItWOi
  • Ummamageswari
    Tuesday, Jun 25. 2019 01:29 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. The Buddha compassionately taught methods for all of us to purify our karma which suit our current karma-bound situation. It is important to know that purification of our karma become necessary because karma creates suffering and holds us back from achieving higher states of consciousness.

    Buddha’s body is just as effective for purifying negative speech karma, as it is for purifying negative body or mind karma. So, those unable to recite mantras can circumambulate around mantra stones, for instance, to purify speech karma. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2TG8j4p
  • sarassitham
    Tuesday, Jun 25. 2019 12:11 PM
    The article was well described about Dorje Shugden and Vajrapani. The powerful roles and functions of the dharma protectors to remove of all obstacles and other emotional issues that can easily lead us away from our spiritual journey.

    Thanks for the beautiful sharing, It is best and good to practice to worship them daily in our life.
  • S.Prathap
    Tuesday, Jun 25. 2019 10:59 AM
    Thank you for sharing this interesting article.Psychopathy is a fairly common mental disorder that is often associated with serial killers and lack of empathy for fellow human beings but it also includes many type of people who do not kill

    Many people suffer from psychopathy at different level.By reading this article we can learn something and understanding about Psychopathy.

    Read more : https://bit.ly/31VjB9A
  • Lin Mun
    Monday, Jun 24. 2019 09:29 PM
    Rinpoche is very kind to share Dorje Shugden to all of us. There are so many high lamas who can confirmed that Dorje Shugden is emanation of Manjushri and is very beneficial especially during this period. In order to bring the practise do us Rinpoche has to withstand many negative comments and threat from the Tibetans and non Dorje Shugden practitioners. Rinpoche has taken so much effort to give us this knowledge despite all the challenges. Thank you Rinpoche and team for all the great work. We can learn all about Dorje Shugden through this website and other articles. Always making it so convenient for all to access. May everyone around the world have the opportunities to meet Dorje Shugden and engage in this holy practise.
  • sarassitham
    Monday, Jun 24. 2019 04:41 PM
    I was so much fortune to come across reading this article. A full life journey and activities of Lord Buddha was well seen in the stunning and beautiful photographs. The amazing photos looked so much real and wonderful. Thanking you so much for the sharing and had a good feel and touch.

    REPLY
  • Ummamageswari
    Monday, Jun 24. 2019 01:14 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. It is true that these pujas that is done in Kechara Forest Retreat provide all of us with powerful protection, purification, good health, wealth and abundance, and the blessings of the enlightened beings.

    Admission is free and all are welcome. All of us are encouraged to attend this potent puja in person. It is important to observe a strict vegetarian diet with no black foods (onions, garlic, meat, fish, eggs, radishes, alcohol) one day before and on the day of the puja itself.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2C8WVYK
  • S.Prathap
    Monday, Jun 24. 2019 01:04 PM
    This is really horrible.Very sad to know cows are skinned alive for the skin, and for that, their limbs are being cut off.Let s stand up for these animals who cannot express themselves through words.

    We have to be kind to the animals .Consider opting for animal -friendly fashion item. Thanks for the article and hopefully with such imagery, more people would be aware and come to avoid leather and fur products.

    Read more : https://bit.ly/2Y9gg4G
  • Ummamageswari
    Monday, Jun 24. 2019 12:58 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. It is true that India is a beautiful country, where it is also the birthplace of many great thinkers, philosophers and teachers who have inspired great changes in society.

    Sangharakshita has highlighted the importance of the commitment in one’s spiritual life, the importance of a spiritual community, the special connection between religion and art, and the need for a ‘new society’ which supported aspirations and ethics based on Buddhism. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2BkTZHP
  • Ummamageswari
    Monday, Jun 24. 2019 12:44 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. By reading this article, i get to know that Choje-la is not an ordinary monk or person but also a highly trained monk who has been personally trained by the previous His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche and Kyabje Domo Geshe Rinpoche where he has been fully authorized by Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche to be the official Panglung Oracle over 40 years back.

    Choje-la is a very knowledgeable monk, a very kindly, well-experienced monk who has no agenda, has very strong guru devotion and very pure in his monk vows. Thank you so much.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2w1Mtiv
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jun 24. 2019 12:01 PM
    Stunning rime thangka of Samayavajra and Dorje Shugden. Colourful painted and standing out and seeing it is a blessing. In Tibetan Buddhism ,Samayavajra is one of the most powerful purification practices for broken samaya, degenerated commitments and vows. The incredible purificatory power of the Samayavajra puja is most effective when one feels great remorse and regret towards any negative actions performed in the past.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/samayavajra-the-purifier-of-spiritual-bonds

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

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I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

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  Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch

The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
1 week ago
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
2 weeks ago
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat\'s land here in Malaysia
3 weeks ago
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat's land here in Malaysia
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
3 weeks ago
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
3 weeks ago
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
3 weeks ago
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
3 weeks ago
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
Sacred Vajra Yogini
3 weeks ago
Sacred Vajra Yogini
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
3 weeks ago
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
4 weeks ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha\'s mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
4 weeks ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha's mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha\'s. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
4 weeks ago
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha's. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
4 weeks ago
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
4 weeks ago
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
This is pretty amazing!

First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
4 weeks ago
This is pretty amazing! First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche

Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
1 month ago
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can\'t stop thinking of you and I can\'t forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can't stop thinking of you and I can't forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
1 month ago
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
1 month ago
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
1 month ago
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
1 month ago
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
2 months ago
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
2 months ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
2 months ago
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
2 months ago
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
DON\'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
2 months ago
DON'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
2 months ago
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
2 months ago
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
2 months ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
2 months ago
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
2 months ago
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
2 months ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
2 months ago
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
2 months ago
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
2 months ago
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
2 months ago
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
2 months ago
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden\'s grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
2 months ago
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden's grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
2 months ago
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche 

www.tsemrinpoche.com
2 months ago
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com
文冬野人咖啡厅开张了!- https://bit.ly/2IRGdBM
2 months ago
文冬野人咖啡厅开张了!- https://bit.ly/2IRGdBM
Click on this picture and read about this very sad girl. Please offer your prayers for her to take a good rebirth. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Click on this picture and read about this very sad girl. Please offer your prayers for her to take a good rebirth. Tsem Rinpoche
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
2 months ago
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
Tsem Rinpoche\'s personal shrine.
2 months ago
Tsem Rinpoche's personal shrine.
In Kechara Forest Retreat- Bentong, Malaysia, we have a beautiful outdoor offering grotto dedicated to Lord Dorje Shugden who fulfills the wishes of many visitors- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
2 months ago
In Kechara Forest Retreat- Bentong, Malaysia, we have a beautiful outdoor offering grotto dedicated to Lord Dorje Shugden who fulfills the wishes of many visitors- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
Guhya Manjushri of the Forbidden City| 密德文殊室利佛- https://bit.ly/2J3HIvM
2 months ago
Guhya Manjushri of the Forbidden City| 密德文殊室利佛- https://bit.ly/2J3HIvM
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    3 weeks ago
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  • Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
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    Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
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    2 months ago
    This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
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    2 months ago
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    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
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    2 months ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
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    3 months ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
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    3 months ago
    Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
    3 months ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
  • Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
    3 months ago
    Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
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    Beautiful
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    3 months ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
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    3 months ago
    Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
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    Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
  • SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    5 months ago
    SUPER ADORABLE and must see
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  • Cute!
    6 months ago
    Cute!
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    6 months ago
    Cute baby owl found and rescued
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  • Nice cups from Kechara!!
    6 months ago
    Nice cups from Kechara!!
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    6 months ago
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    6 months ago
    His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche makes offering of khata to Dorje Shugden.
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    6 months ago
    This bigfoot researcher gives good reasonings on bigfoot. Interesting short video.
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    6 months ago
    His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery was one of the teachers of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Here in this beautiful video is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso showing his centre to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, then proceeding to sit down to receive teachings. For more information- https://bit.ly/2QNac1u
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    2 yearss ago
    What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
    Sick animals are more profitable... farms calculate how close to death they can keep animals without killing them. That's the business model. How quickly they can be made to grow, how tightly they can be packed, how much or how little can they eat, how sick they can get without dying... We live in a world in which it's conventional to treat an animal like a block of wood. ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
  • This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
    2 yearss ago
    This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
  • SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    2 yearss ago
    SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    This happens daily in slaughterhouse so you can get your pork and Bak ku teh. Stop eating meat.

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