The local Yakut (Sakha) people called this remote area of the taiga "wretched" and shunned it for centuries, until forty five years ago, a telegram sent to Moscow stated: "The peace pipe has been smoked." The telegram contained a coded message, meaning that a kimberlite pipe was discovered. In a few years, more than five hundred kimberlites were discovered in the area, and a town of Mirnyi (literally: Peaceful) was founded in 1956 to become the center of the Russian diamond-mining industry. For me, Mirnyi was the first stop on my trip in Siberia with two Tibetan lamas, who were invited by the Buryat minority to read prayers at their Surkharban holiday. Obviously not thrilled with the diamond craze, the lamas politely visited the diamond processing plant, open-air pit, the "peace pipe", and a brand new Orthodox church. It was summer just below the Arctic Circle, and the sun was always somewhere above the horizon...

Back to map

Diamond
Lamas in the Church