With its primeval forests, numerous lakes and plentiful parts of beautiful nature to be discovered, this unexplored Eastern European country has a lot to offer.
1. Belarus is called “Lungs of Europe” as 40% of the country is made up of forests. The Bialowieza Forest once covered a significant part of the Eruopean plain and today its remaining largest portion is found in none other than Belarus. The forest is so ancient that some oak trees inside the forest are believed to be 6 centuries old!
2. That said, Belarus does not really have a lot of natural mountains. The highest mountain is just 346 metres in height. The country is essentially a flat country. Interestingly, they have salt mountains as a result of mining activities.
3. Victoria Azarenka is a tennis star and Grand Slam title holder hailing from Belarus. But the interesting fact is that the country has such a deep-rooted love for sports that. they have over 23,000 sporting venues and the people passionately watch and follow sports such as football, ice hockey, tennis and handball.
4. People regard Minsk to be an eternal city, one that has faced eminent destruction over 8 times under European history but somehow risen each time like a phoenix. In fact, this eternal city has been around since 1067!
5. Dear foodie friends and dearest sweet tooth holders, this country doesn’t just make amazing pancakes, it celebrates pancakes to the point that they have something called Pancake Week! Yep, an Eastern Slavic holiday that has the streets and stoves of every house whipping up stacks of pancakes with toppings as sinfully sweet as the drizzle of maple syrup to experimental savoury alternatives such as mushrooms.
6. In fact, they also make a potato-based pancake called draniki. This while surprising for pancakes, isn’t surprising for Belarus as the country has over 300 potato centred recipes and the item features in almost every meal.
7. Bison had all but got into extinction towards the 50s when the last two surviving bison were released in the Bialowieza Forest. Today there are over 600 bison here and it is also the national animal of the country.
8. We informally communicate in “Hinglish”, a combination of Hindi and English. Meanwhile, in this country they communicate in “Trasianka”, a combination of Russian and Belarusian.
9. While the Belarusians are extremely friendly and charming, they are also pretty superstitious. Now while as Indians we too witness many superstitions, it is fascinating to see another country’s variants itself. Where Indians believe that an itchy palm signifies that you are going to get money, Belarusians believe that blowing a whistle inside their homes will blow away all their money. They also don’t clean up their homes once guests leave, until they reach their final destination because otherwise you may end up cleaning those guests from your lives forever! Mind you, the country has a 99.6% literacy rate and one of the most literate populations in the world.
10. The National Library known as “The Diamond of Knowledge” is considered an attraction by the locals in Minsk despite the fact that the world at large regards it to be one of the ugliest buildings to be built. In fact, the Lonely Planet calls it “a ghastly piece of Lukashenko-approved hubris”. Yet, the impressive facet of the building is that
11. It is a library and media centre sprawling over 23 floors with not just a plethora of books but also a book museum, vinyl records and art galleries.
12. Alexander Lukashenko has been the country’s president since 1994, i.e., for a tenure of 26 years and counting!
13. 3 presidents of Israel actually originated from Belarus: Chaim Weizman (1st), Zalman Shazar (3rd) and Shimon Peres (9th).
14. It is the only European country that still metes out the death penalty as a legal punishment.
15. With the number of minor and major wars that occurred here in ancient times, the country is believed to have a number of treasures hidden in catacombs and forests. This has been corroborated by the number of treasures discovered on an annual basis. I can see you getting ideas of visiting with a shovel!
16. The nuclear disaster of Chernobyl devastated the country with 70% of its territory getting effected by radiation. 25% of the land is still uninhabitable due to this horrific occurrence.
Trip leader Neeraj Narayanan went to Belarus in 2017 and his bags went missing at the airport. For five days, he lived without any of his possessions but his story of harassment by the immigration officials, and the ensuing warmth and concern shown by hundreds of people in Belarus and all over the world went viral. You can read that story here.
The Khatyn Memorial about 80kms from Minsk is a must visit for history lovers. Belarus lost over 3 million people in the Second World War which they in their country refer to as the Great Patriotic War. The memorial gives you a glimpse into the layed history of this nation.
Belarusian people are complimented for being very friendly and hospitable. The villages in the country are pretty and quaint. While homestays are still gaining popularity in India itself, the option of a village homestay in Belarus, particularly near Brest has emerged too. Your chance to stay in a European countryside or village!
After having heard so much about the Bialowieza Forest, how could you possibly not make a visit? Head on over to Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, to explore the last primeval woodlands found in Europe.
Grondo survived the attacks of WWII and lets you witness the pre-historic baroque and medieval architecture.
The Nesvizh Castle was rebuilt many times but its first ever foundation stone was laid back in 1584. Today, it is considered by its countrymen to be the most beautiful of all Belarusian castles. With its ornamental lakes and manicured gardens, it really is a work of beauty.
If the above interests you, then you would also like to pay a visit to the Mir Castle, a 16th century UNESCO heritage site. The visit should be followed by walking around and exploring the historical town of Brest which will transport you to a different period and era.
If you are a museum lover then you can check out those too as Belarus has quite a unique combination of those with museums such as the Museum of Malformations of Human Body, Museum of Stones and Museum of Confiscated Art. Ahh, let’s not call this a recommendation but rather a mention for those who wish to scratch their dose of quirk. ?
And of course, the lakes. White Russia or Belarus is also known as the land of lakes. The majority of these lakes are a result of melting of the Valdai glacier thousands of years ago. The Belarusian Lakeland is an area with multiple lakes such as Naroch, Drivyaty, Lukomskoje, Chervonoe, Osveyskoye and others. Because how could a visit be complete without sighting such beautiful lakes.
How to reach from India
You can take a flight from Delhi to Minsk with a layover in Moscow, Bahrain, Almaty or Munich.
For the visa requirements, kindly refer to the following page on our website: