Russia has some of the coldest places on earth and some are so chilly that the temperature there drops to -70 degree Celsius. You may think that surviving or inhabiting the coldest place on earth is impossible. Well, this town in Russia paints a different picture!
You heard it right! We are talking about Oymyakon – the coldest recorded inhabited place on this planet where the average temperature in winter is -47 degree Celsius. The population of this town is approximately 900 as of 2018 and is located in Oymyakonsky District of Russia.
So now that you have heard some extreme facts about it how about taking a drive down to the coldest place on earth, literally?
Oymyakon is located at a distance of 950 km from Yakutsk (capital of Sakha Republic). The valleys that flank this town are responsible for its cold climate as they trap the cold currents between them. Commonly called “The Pole of Cold”, Oymyakon can be accessed from Yakutsk by road which further leads to Magadan – a port town in eastern Russia.
The famous Kolyma highway or the Road of Bones is the primary road to reach Oymyakon. The road was constructed by prisoners during Stalin’s reign of the Soviet Union. The mortal remains, of those who died during the construction of the road, are buried underneath which also explains the eerie name of this road.
In the 20s and the 30s, the town was a pit stop for reindeer herders for hydrating the Siberian beasts with thermal spring. But with time, the town has now become popular amongst travellers who enjoy living in extreme conditions. While the name Oymyakon means ‘water that is never frozen’, the life here tells us a different story about it.
The life here is so cold that you can literally hammer a nail with a frozen banana! To survive in such a difficult condition, you can also enjoy the Russian sauna and adapt your body to this monstrous climate.
Since farming is impossible in these harsh conditions, the main diet here is meat and fish. Stroganina is a local dish which basically consists of raw frozen fish consumed with salt and pepper and the local population is very proud of their invention. Talking of frozen things, you can also explore the historical remains from the ice age such as the permafrost mummies and animals.
The harsh conditions of this region make surviving almost impossible and yet the locals here find ways to enjoy the folklore and the culture of this place. During March the town has a traditional festival called ‘The Pole of Cold Festival’. The purpose of this festival is to celebrate the vibrant culture and remembering the Lord of Frost (locally known as Yakutian Chyskhaan). It is believed that Santa Claus and Russian Ded Moroz visited this place to meet their friend.
Just like any other festival of this planet, Pole of Cold also displays the traditional culture in all its glory. Apart from dancing and music, you can witness reindeer racing, dog sledging, ice fishing and perhaps end your stay on a wholesome note by tasting some local cuisine.
Our planet has many such beautiful places that have draped themselves in a breathtaking manner, just like Oymyakon. Their beauty can be best experienced by visiting them and helping the locals preserve the indigenous culture and tradition.