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Discover Kabardino-Balkaria
June 12, 2015 10:00


(Source: https://vk.com/wall-37689738_5501?z=photo-37689738_368783427%2F52f228023c417c0b88)

History

Kabarda and Balkaria existed separately before 1922. Kabarda became a part of the Russian Empire in 1557, Balkaria - in 1827, although technically the lands of the Greater Kabarda and Balkaria were given to Russia by the Kucuk Kaynarca treaty as of 1774.

Russia and Kabarda had close relations - particularly after 1561, when Ivan the Terrible married the daughter of the Kabardinian Prince of Temryuk Idarov Goshane (named Maria after baptism). The descendants of her brothers that passed to the service of the Tsar founded the dynasty of the Cherkassky princes that gave Russia a lot of famous generals and politicians. The deportation of Balkarians began on March 8, 1944 by Stalin’s order - 37 713 persons, including old people and babies, were sent to Central Asia in 14 special trains.

The fault of the deportees was only in their Balkarian origin. 562 people died on the road. Those who survived lived in the fenced and thoroughly guarded places, where they spent 13 years in a barrack regime. An AWOL was considered an escape and entailed criminal liability.

The republic was immediately renamed into Kabardian ASSR. Balkars were decriminalized only in 1957. The former name of the republic was also restored.

Overview

Kabardino-Balkaria is a small republic, not only on the All-Russian national scale, but also by the standards of the Greater Caucasus: it makes up only 3% of its territory. However, the size definitely does not matter here, and a single fact would be enough for the tourism advertising of Kabardino-Balkaria: the highest peak in Europe and six of the eight Caucasian mountains over five thousand meters high are located on its territory.

The capital – Nalchik that was an All-Union demanded resort city some time ago – is located within the “horseshoe” of the majestic mountains. The terrain relief of Kabardino-Balkaria consistently rises from North to South - from the plains to the origins of many mountain rivers and the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range. There, on the border with Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Mingi-Tau, “the eternal mountain of consciousness and wisdom”, better known as Elbrus, is supporting the sky. Kabardians historically lived in the flat part, Balkarians - in the mountains.

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This division is partly preserved until today: almost all alpine villages are Balkarian. However, today the highlanders gradually descend from the mountains to the plains, it is an overall process. In addition to two titular nations, this country is a good home for Russians and a dozen of other nationalities. Kabardino-Balkaria is not yet threatened by urbanization.

There are only eight small towns, other settlements are villages and alpine villages along rivers and in the folds of the mountain gorges. The largest gorges are - Malkinskoe, Baksanskoe, Chegemskoe, Cherekskoe, Khulamo-Bezengiyskoe – they are very different in natural conditions, in their development and their spirit. For example, the Baksanskoe Gorge is a developed tourist route to Elbrus and Cheget, and the Khulamo-Bezengiyskoe Gorge is almost a preserved area where only climbers and hikers go. All five gorges are united by one thing: the literally unearthly beauty of mountain landscapes. And sheep as well. Beautiful passes between ravines look like transitions between worlds. Mountains change their shape after each turn, vast plateaus of bizarre shapes are opening, winds howl in the ruins of ancient villages. People left their homes not so long ago: the mass deportation of the Balkarians in 1944 left a tragic mark on the historical memory of these places. Balkarians were not allowed to return to their native villages even after vindication. Nevertheless, the authentic alpine villages in Kabardino-Balkaria are preserved. For example, El-Tyubyu or Upper Balkaria that are quite well-known.

The ancient Balkarian village of El-Tyubyu in the upper reaches of the Chegemskoe Gorge on the left bank of the Chegem River is the birthplace of the great Balkarian poet and sage Kaisyn Kuliyev. The tower of Balkarukovs in El-Tyubyu is also called the Tower of Love. The legend says it that it was built by Akhtugan Balkarukov in order to defend his place against the relatives of the beauty Kerime stolen by him in Dagestan. There are two ancient defensive Greek stairs leading up the rock wall not far from the village. They rise to a height of about 30 meters and lead to a small site enclosed by the walls up to two meters high and about half a meter thick. According to legends, the way could be continued even further, along the narrow trail leading into a mysterious cave, where Christian relics - books and utensils – were hidden. No one ever managed to find the hidden things. In ancient times the stairs served for people who went into the mountains to hide from their enemies, and the positions above the stairs were taken by the soldiers for defense. Slightly above the Greek stairs there are ancient Balkarian mausoleums where the local nobility were buried in VIII-XVIII centuries.

Read more artikles about Kabardino-Balkaria...

Excursions

Excursions are usually a part of the tours organized in Kabardino-Balkaria by travel companies in different towns. If you come to the republic independently, it is best to contact local travel companies. For example, in Nalchik. They organize bus tours to the main attractions. You can as well agree on an individual trip with a guide.

In addition, an excursion can be ordered in almost any large hotel, if you ask for information at the reception. What to bring from Kabardino-Balkaria.

The especially popular place among the vacationers is Koziy Market in Nalchik – a very colorful and inexpensive market of knitted things. Not only things of goat’s or sheep’s wool, but also felt things, such as slippers, are sold here. Koziy Market in Nalchik works every day, except Monday.

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There are many souvenir shops in Nalchik, their assortment includes many things from plastic consumer goods to really interesting handcrafted items. For example, products made of black-polished clay copying trophies of archaeological excavations, statues or fully functional utensils made by local artists and potters.

Be sure to inquire the product’s passport upon purchase, otherwise you may have problems with its export. “Edible souvenirs” are khychiny (flat meat pies), khalva, dried lamb. They will not be spoilt in transit. It is better to drink the national drink “ayran” on the spot. The cuisine of Kabardino-Balkaria is very diverse, because Kabardians and Balkarians have their own dishes. People of Kabarda living on the plain use more vegetables, wheat flour, potatoes and beans. The main components of the Balkarian cuisine are meat (lamb), byproducts, all milk derivatives - cheese and fermented milk drinks.

There are a lot of kinds of cheese in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria - young, smoked, salted, dried. The culinary symbols of Kabardino-Balkaria have long been considered ayran and khychiny (traditional flat pies with various fillings). Now they can be bought all over Russia. But the most delicious ones, of course, are made at home, in Kabardino-Balkaria.Desserts include baklava, lakums (donuts fried in oil), zakeris (which is made from dough poured with honey and sold in blocks). As far as Kabardino-Balkariya is a Muslim republic, wine is not popular here. Even homemade wine associated with the Caucasus by many people. Urban and even rural cafes have alcohol, but it is imported for tourists. Homemade wine is all the same served in the Elbrus region, on the Golubye Lakes or the Chegemskie Waterfalls, the places where there are always a lot of tourists: demand creates supply.

Koziy Market

Koziy Market in Nalchik works every day, except Monday. They sell everything that can be knitted of wool - shawls, scarves, socks, sweaters...

The prices are ridiculous: a handmade shawl of cashmere costs 200-400 roubles. The tips on buying products of goat’s hair and underfur are the same as at Pukhovoy Market in Uryupinsk. Do not forget to bargain, do not buy the first thing that catches your eye and seems cheap. If a lace shawl is very shaggy - so that you can’t see the pattern behind the underfur - it can be “fluffed” unnaturally and will later come off. In order to determine the quality, you need to run your hand over the shawl. If fluffs remain in your palm, the shawl shouldn’t be bought, for it will certainly come off. Be attentive: the products made of natural goat wool are almost never dyed.

They must have dirty white or light beige color. Bright shawls with intricate patterns are most often synthetic. There are socks, gloves, hats, ponchos, a large variety of children’s knitted clothes, there are even dresses and sweaters made by models from fashion catalogues. It is better to come to Koziy Market before 11 a.m. – just like Uryupinsk, local products are actively bought by wholesalers, and by the afternoon sellers may no longer have the things of the right size or color for you.

The market has plenty of souvenirs with national symbols, as well as rugs, hats for sauna, sheepskins and everything like that. However, Koziy Market is interesting not only for goods, but also for its sellers. Local saleswomen are so charismatic that it is difficult to get away from them without buying anything, even if you do not really need it. A small café serving very tasty traditional meat pies (“khychiny”) works on the territory of the market.

Cuisine
 

The cuisine of Kabardino-Balkaria is very diverse, because Kabardians and Balkarians have their own dishes. People of Kabarda living on the plain use more vegetables, wheat flour, potatoes and beans. The main components of the Balkarian cuisine are meat (lamb), byproducts, all milk derivatives - cheese and fermented milk drinks.

There are a lot of kinds of cheese in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria - young, smoked, salted, dried. The culinary symbols of Kabardino-Balkaria have long been considered ayran and khychiny (traditional flat pies with various fillings). Now they can be bought all over Russia. But the most delicious ones, of course, are made at home, in Kabardino-Balkaria.

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The difference between food cooked in the cities and in the highland villages is big. Of course, village products win, although ayran in bottles is also pretty good. Almost every restaurant and cafe serves shish-kebabs (lamb and beef). You can often see a dish called “zhau-baur” in menu – it is a kebab of lamb liver wrapped in fat. “Zhyorme” are pieces of lamb stomach wrapped in fat, too, and boiled in broth.

Meat “shurpa” (soup), “gedlibzhe” (a Kabardian dish, chicken in sour cream sauce), “lyagur” (dried meat), “sokhta” (home sausage), “lyape with lyapstepkha” (soup with dough balls), “pasta” (a dish of millet and corn meal, similar to Italian polenta). There are a lot of different sauces, the most popular of them are based on sour milk with garlic and herbs.

Desserts include baklava, lakums (donuts fried in oil), zakeris (which is made from dough poured with honey and sold in blocks). As far as Kabardino-Balkariya is a Muslim republic, wine is not popular here. Even homemade wine associated with the Caucasus by many people. Urban and even rural cafes have alcohol, but it is imported for tourists. Homemade wine is all the same served in the Elbrus region, on the Golubye Lakes or the Chegemskie Waterfalls, the places where there are always a lot of tourists: demand creates supply.

But the locals drink mainly tea or ayran, what about soft drinks, they can drink only buza. If you are told that buza is a kind of beer, please, don’t believe. There’s nothing in common, except some carbonation. Buza is mostly a kind of “mushroom drink”, if anyone remembers this home-made drink based on kombucha. Buza is made of fermented millet or corn. It is very sweet, thick, of white and gray color. Alcohol is not smacked in it.

Both Kabardians and Balkarians are very hospitable – they can invite a person they met only a couple of hours ago to their houses. In the villages such invitations can be heard even earlier. In a traditional Balkarian or Kabardian house the hostess and children never sit at the table.

They stand aside watching the guests and the host, wait in case those will need something. Such situation can rarely be seen in the cities, and people in the villages and highland villages strictly follow the traditions. Do not try to invite the hostess to the table – all the same, she will refuse. It is better simply to heartily thank her. It is always impolite to interrupt your interlocutor, but interrupting older people at the Caucasus is absolutely unacceptable.

 

 



 

 

 




 


Sources: http://strana.ru 


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Kabardino-Balkaria North Caucasus    

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