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The Monastery of Geden Sheddup Choikorling

Elista[dead link] is the capital of Kalmykia in Russia, containing many Buddhist temples, monasteries and architecture.


The city was founded in 1865, and has a population of just over 100,000. When, in WWII, a significant number of Kalmyks collaborated with the Germans during WWII, Stalin dissolved the Kalmyk ASSR, deported much of the citizenry to Siberia, and resettled the land with ethnic Russians and Siberians. Elista was named Stepnoy during this period. Only after Stalin's death were the Kalmyk people allowed to return, and the city resumed its former name. From then on, it witnessed some brighter days as the site of the 1998 Chess Olympiad (with the creation of a satellite village called Chess City even), the dedication of the tallest Buddhist temple in Europe by the Dalai Lama, and the establishment of many Buddhist and Lenin monuments by its enthusiastic mayor.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

"ESL" redirects here; for the city in the United States, see East St. Louis

1 Elista Airport (ESL IATA). There were flights from Moscow a few times a week on Rusline, but since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the airport shut operations. There are more regular flights to Volgograd and Rostov, with transfer to Elista by bus or train respectively. Elista Airport (Q2276543) on Wikidata Elista Airport on Wikipedia

By train[edit]

The Moscow-Elista train route goes through Stavropol. However, the most convenient way is travel to Volgograd by train then on to Elista by express minivan, which are relatively cheap.

  • 2 Elista railway station. Elista railway station (Q4531250) on Wikidata

By car[edit]

By bus[edit]

Several private companies operate a daily bus service between Moscow and Elista. The pickup point in Moscow is Luzhniki Stadium.

Get around[edit]

Map of Elista

Mini-buses ply routes around the city.


  • 1 Golden Temple of Elista (Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume). Modern Buddhist temple opened in 2005 with the Dalai Lama's blessing, and said to be the biggest in Europe. It is quite visible from many places in town. Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume (Q2657222) on Wikidata Burkhan Bakshin Altan Sume on Wikipedia
  • Museum of Kalmyk Buddhist Art.
  • Museum of Local Lore.
  • Museum of Buddhist History.
  • Gallery of Fine Arts.
  • Kazansky Cathedral.


  • Drama Theatre
  • Puppet Theatre
  • Play chess


  • Kalmyk puzzle närn shanj (нәрн шанҗ)


  • Uralan (Уралан), Nomto Ochirova St., 9
  • Zheltaya Cheburechka, Ulitsa Pushkina 1. A little shwarma/cheburek hut that seems to win people's hearts and serves tea.
  • Chaykhana "Tamerlan", Ulitsa Imeni Yu 27A. Good-sized portions of kebabs, dumplings, soup, etc.
  • Gurman, Ulitsa Imeni Nomto Ochirova 9. Traditional dishes. Attached to the Kalmykia Museum.
  • Cafe Kalmyk Cuisine (Калмыцкая Кухня)


  • Restaurant White Lotus (Белый Лотос) (in Bely Lotus Hotel).


You can drink Kalmyk tea




  • City Chess Hotel (Otel' Gorod Shakhmat), Siti Chess 18, +7 961 395-29-55. Uralan district. Little chess displays, so it lives up to the name.
  • Belyy Lotos, Khoninova Str., 7. Glassy exterior. Here you'll get a free breakfast and maybe some tea from a samovar. +7 960 897-18-18.


Go next[edit]

  • Khurul Monastery - about 6 km from the city.

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