Pillars of weathering. Russia
Such a boundless country as Russia includes a great number of amazing sights and natural anomalies. Northern Urals is famous for a beautiful and full of mystery place called a plateau Manpupuner. A unique geological monument known as Pillars of weathering or Mansi idiots is situated here, in the Troitsko-Pechorsky district of the Komi Republic in the area between the rivers Ichotlyaga and Pechora. These unusual stone sculptures are the hallmark of the Urals.
Six stone statues are located on the same line, the seventh one (34 m) – at a little distance from the others. Their height varies from 30 to 42 meters. Hard to imagine that 200 million years ago, they were impassable mountains, but what was created by nature, was destroyed in the same way – scorching sun, strong winds and prolonged downpours gradually ruined the Ural Mountains. This explains the name – “pillars of weathering”. Scientists call these pillars buttes. They consist of hard-sericite quartzite schists, so they were able to survive to the present day.
Numerous legends are related to the pillars of weathering, since ancient times, in the period of paganism, they were objects of worship of Mansi. It was the greatest sin to climb the Manpupuner and only shamans had a permit to get here. The name of the mountain “Man-Pupu-nёr” can be translated from the language of the Mansi “small mountain of idols”.
One of the numerous legends says that once these stone statues were people from the tribe of giants. One day, one of them wanted to marry a beautiful daughter of the Mansi leader, but was refused. The giant was offended, and in a fit of anger, he decided to attack the village where the girl lived. When the giant with his relatives were already near the village, the girl’s brother turned them into giant boulders with the help of weapon enchanted by good spirits.
Other legend says about giants who ate human flesh. They were terrible and invincible. Once the giants decided to pass the Ural Ridge in order to feast by the Mansi tribe, but the local shamans called on the spirits and they turned the abusers into stones. Many sources have clarifications that the last giant tried to escape, but he was also caught by a terrible fate. This fact explains why the seventh stone is located further away from the rest.
If you want to see this mysterious place with your own eyes, it would be very difficult. Your path will lie across the seething river, through the deep taiga, under heavy winds and freezing rains. It is a difficult journey even for seasoned travelers. At some times of the year you can get here only by a helicopter. This region belongs to the Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve, and if you want to visit the area you need to get a special permit. But it’s definitely worth the effort. The Pillars of weathering are considered to be one of the 7 Wonders of Russia.