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Mongolian culture


Mandshir Monastery

Mandshir Monastery

For the 350 monks who once called this place home, the gorgeous setting around this monastery must have been a daily inspiration. Like most monasteries in Mongolia, Mandshir Khiid was destroyed in 1937 by Stalin’s thugs, but was partially restored in the 1990s. Just 6km northeast of Zuunmod and 46km by road from Ulaanbaatar, the monastery is a perfect half-day trip from the capital, or can be used as a starting point for hikes into the Strictly Protected Area.

The main temple has been restored and converted into a museum, but the other buildings in the area remain in ruins. The monastery and museum are not as impressive as those in Ulaanbaatar – it is the beautiful forest setting that makes a visit worthwhile. From the gate it’s a couple of kilometres to the main area, where there is a shop, a lacklustre museum, a restaurant and several gers offering accommodation. Look for the huge two-tonne bronze cauldron, which dates from 1726 and was designed to boil up 10 sheep at a time. The remains of the monastery are about 800m uphill from the museum. The monastery museum has tsam masks, exhibits on the layout of Mandshir and some photos that show what it looked like before Stalin’s thugs turned it into rubble. Look out for the controversial Ganlin Horn, made from human thigh bones.

Bogdkhan Strictly Protected Area

Bogdkhan Strictly Protected Area

This mountain was officially protected first in 1778 by the initiative of Khure Van Minister (a capital governor) Yundendorj, one of the leading aristocrats of that time. This mountain itself, with its ancient historical and cultural heritage, is located on the southern edge of the capital of Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar. It was once again taken under protection in 1957. The area encompasses 41,651 hectares of land. The mountain is the southern part of the Khentii mountain range, which is the borderline between the forest steppe and steppe regions, as well as the southern borderland of the larch forest. It also has a special significance in climate formation of the surrounding area. 


UNESCO has also proposed to establish a wildlife park in the region, of up to 65,000 hectares. It surrounds Tsetsegun Uul Mountain and contains the Zaisan memorial, Nukht and Manzshir Khiid Monastery. At 2256m, magnificent Tsetseegun is the highest point in the Bogdkhan Uul Range, which dominates the skyline to the south of Ulaanbaatar. 


Nowadays it’s perfectly safe and legal to walk on the mountain and you can enjoy some terrific hiking and horse-riding trails. From Ulaanbaatar the mountain appears dark and menacing but, once you’re on top, the forests and rocky outcrops are a beautiful sight.  


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Now that I have had some time to process my amazing journey with you through the Discover Mongolia tour and I would like to write to thank you for a totally engaging experience. . .

Washington D.C

   Mrs. Margaret Hadley

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