Buddhist Alienation: Kalmykia’s Long Road to Autonomy

Journey to Elista, Russia, the largest Buddhist community in Europe.

Although my journey had started about two thousand miles higher up, this was the first stretch of land in three weeks I was traversing on asphalt rather than rail. It would also be the shortest, given that reaching Elista from Volgograd via the flat, straight road cutting through the steppe was meant to take, according to the driver of the oven-like marshrutka, only four to five hours. Starting from Murmansk, I was travelling…