Ingushetia: stern and hospitable spirit of the North Caucasus

Main facts:

  • Administrative center: Magas

  • Federal District: Caucasus region

  • Language(s):  Ingush, Russian

  • Population: 488,000

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Islam

Top 10 attractions:

Sights map of Ingushetia Republic

Travel around Ingushetia Republic

Acquaintance with the youngest republic in Russia for the majority will begin upon arrival at the modern airport of Magas - the newly-made capital of Ingushetia. Already at this moment, many will face some features of the transport infrastructure of the region, or rather, its absence. In order to leave the airport in the nearest populated areas - Nazran, Magas or Vladikavkaz - you will have to fork out for a taxi or rent a car, since there is no public transport here. The same applies to moving throughout the country, so I immediately recommend everyone to attend to the possibilities of moving along it (ideally, to rent the car). However, do not get scared right away - this is the only urgent problem in the republic for tourists, otherwise it is a great place to visit and catche impressions.

The Republic of Ingushetia is the youngest republic of Russia, which was formed in 1992 when the Chechen-Ingush ASSR was divided into two republics. Since ancient times, Chechens and Ingushs are kindred peoples, and they have a lot in common both from historical and cultural points of view. At the same time, although the Chechen people are still trying to adhere to the full severity of the laws of Islam, in Ingushetia, with a high proportion of Muslims, laws are much softer and are associated mostly with tribal traditions and democratic discussion than with authoritarian regimes of those in power. In Ingushetia, throughout the history, there were several tapes (clans) that defined policies and traditions on certain plots of land in the mountains, the Dzheirahsky gorge and on the flat part of Ingushetia. Thanks to them, the territory of Ingushetia became part of the Russian Empire, they also participated in the Caucasian War on both sides of the conflict. The adoption of Islam in the 15th and 16th centuries strongly linked the Ingush and Chechens, and since then they have been friendly neighbors.

After the October Revolution in Russia, the collapse of the Russian Empire and the creation of the Soviet Union, the Ingush people, together with many others, formed an independent Mountainous Republic in the North and Central Caucasus, which, however, did not last long. After the capturing of Dagestan by general Denikin's troops, the government of the republic announced its dissolution, as a result, the union of Caucasian peoples failed. Almost all nations, including the Ingush, accepted this and returned to the Soviet Union. Subsequently, the Ingush and Chechens were combined into one territorial entity - the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

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During World War II, most Ingush fought with the German invaders in the Caucasus along with the rest of the nations. They showed themselves to be brave and stern warriors who heroically defended their lands against the Nazis. But what happened next left an indelible black mark on the entire history of their people. Already during the victorious offensive of the Soviet army in Europe, the Soviet leadership secretly developed and embarked on the implementation of the "Chechevitsa" plan - mass deportation of the Chechen and Ingush peoples from their ancestral territories. Formal reasons were “collaboration with the Nazis,” “anti-Soviet propaganda,” etc., but nothing has yet admitted in real reasons. It would have been worth it, because literally in a couple of months of 1944, all Chechens and Ingush were evicted from their land, which echelons went to Central Asia. And this is during the Russian Great Patriotic War, in which these peoples also took a heroic part on the side of the USSR as its ardent allies! In 1956, the government of the USSR allowed the nations to return to their land, but in their memory till this day this episode of history burns with a bright flame of indignation. Why did they do this to them? Why was the government angry at its submissive allied inhabitants? These and many other questions remain unanswered to this day. In memory of those terrible days, military exploits of the Ingush people and in honor of their resilience and courage, a Memorial of honor and glory was built in the city of Nazran, which is today one of the main monuments of the history of the Republic. In subsequent years, the Ingush tried with all their might to return their ancestral lands, which by that time had already been inhabited by Russians or Ossetians. And if for the most part it was possible to agree with the Russians, in 1992 an armed conflict broke out over the Prigorodny district (including part of the capital of North Ossetia - Vladikavkaz), in which hundreds of people were killed on both sides. Since then, these peoples (Ingush and Ossetians) have disliked each other, there is practically no contact between them (although they are neighbors in the territory).

As I have already said, you can get to the Republic of Ingushetia by air communication - with arrival at the modern Magas airport. Modern, because most of the infrastructure in the region has been built over the past 20-25 years, since the declaration of republic independence. In the absence of own financial resources of such a volume, the majority of large-scale construction projects here are financed from the federal budget. Thus, the Ice Palace and Amphitheater, the best Perinatal complex in the Caucasus, the Memorial of honor and glory, the airport and (attention!) the whole capital of the republic was built - the city of Magas, named after the ancient city of Magas in the territory of the Alanian Kingdom (6-11 centuries AD).  A new capital was constructed literally in an open field, and it continues to be built to this day. Arriving in Magas, you will not see there ancient buildings or architectural masterpieces, but the city leaves the most pleasant impressions: clean comfortable sidewalks with a lot of urns (separate garbage collection) and benches, amenities for people with disabilities, several ennobled parks and gardens with fountains, brand new houses (with low prices and state subsidies for local residents), modern stops with wifi, an automatic bar and a panel of direct appeal to the mayor of the city (!), and in the very center is a beautiful quarter with the administration of the republic, the President House, the Council of Elders, the Prosecutor's Office, etc. Right in front of them stands the symbol of Ingushetia - the Tower of Concord, which looks like generic Ingush watchtowers and symbolizes peace, resilience and prosperity of the ancient folk. From its observation deck, there are gorgeous views of Magas and the ranges of the Caucasus Mountains rising in the distance, not to visit which here means to miss all the most beautiful and national that the Ingush have survived; not to see the most picturesque places of the Caucasus and the monuments of national architecture.

The Republic of Ingushetia, despite its young history as an independent region, can give a lot of surprises. I will try to acquaint you with many of them further, however, I sincerely recommend everyone to visit this place in live and see it with own eyes. Believe me - there is no such beauty and historical monuments in any other place in the Caucasus (and probably in the world).

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The main problem of Ingushetia at the moment from the point of tourism is the lack of a streamlined transport system and hotel business. This is due to a pile of interrelated problems: the lack of tourist influx due to negative stereotypes of the "dangerous land", the reluctance of local residents to invest in the construction of hotels for missing (so far) tourists, the lack of tour companies (see the absence of tourists) and poor (and often missing) public transport. As a result, most people lose most of Ingushetia from the view, and it is in its mountainous part that the entire historical heritage of the ancient Ingush tribes is concentrated! Rare locals who know the history of their people and ready to share it with tourists, are ready to conduct personal excursions on their vehicles, and in fact it is them who today keeps the whole "tourist industry" of the republic. Let's hope that in the future the situation will be better, but for now you just need to look for contacts of the best guides or rent a car. And if you are in doubt, whether the photographs taken by me during the sightseeing tour of Ingushetia mountains with a local guide would be the best to say in favor of this.

Leaving Vladikavkaz (where there are more opportunities for an overnight stay) along the Georgian Military Road after the settlement of Chmi there will be a bridge over the large mountain Terek River, beyond which stands the welcome arch "Welcome to Ingushetia!". Near it, the border guards will check your passports (since mountainous Ingushetia is a border region with Georgia) and thats all - you are now entered the Dzheyrakh gorge, the historical territory of the ancient teips of Ingushetia. Here every village is a monument of history, and almost every turn of the mountain serpentine have the ancestral towers: some are watchtowers, some are symbols of the wealth of the family. One thing is invariable - their unique architectural form, austere camp and history for hundreds of years. Erzi, Guli, Egikhal, Targim and unique Vovnushki are masterpieces of Ingush folk architecture, which today are monuments of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage! Seeing them with own eyes, feel the surrounding atmosphere of freshness, tranquility and peace, enjoy the high peaks of the Caucasus Mountains and fully realize how difficult it is for mountain people to survive in these harsh lands - an experience that opens eyes to many things in life. These places teach awareness and endurance more than any psychological training, and the history of the Ingush people is an example of courage and bravery, coupled with loyalty to traditions and family values, which is still worth looking for.

I sincerely recommend everyone to venture on a trip to Ingushetia. This is the place where the history of the Caucasus is revealed in the most complete way, where incredible mountain landscapes are combined with unique tower complexes, the likes of which are not found anywhere else in the world. If you think about your security - Ingushetia is one of the safest regions of Russia in crime statistics. Here the latters are strongly tied to personal insults and are incompatible with folk traditions, among which there is one sacred - the guest is always welcome. And therefore any guest in these parts will be received with open hearts, local culinary dishes and true Caucasian cordiality. Just do not try to retrain the locals - their traditions are much more years old and the foundations of these traditions are much deeper than any of the existing ones. Welcome to Ingushetia - the youngest Republic of Russia and the most picturesque (in my opinion) republic of the Russian North Caucasus!

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