The fragrance of joss sticks hangs in the air, while in the background there is the constant murmur of monks reciting their mantras. When you experience a ceremony in the Golden Temple of Elista, you’d be forgiven for believing that you’re no longer in Europe – but you definitely haven’t left the continent. Elista is the capital of Kalmykia. The autonomous federal republic of Russia lies between the Caucasus and Caspian Sea in the southern Russian steppes, and geographically is part of Europe. It is the only predominantly Buddhist region – a piece of Asia on the European continent.