Attractions of Arkhangai Aimag, Mongolia

November 18th, 2010 by

Arkhangai Aimag

Here follows a brief introduction to the sights and adventures awaiting in Arkhangai aimag, central Mongolia. The information has been compiled for inclusion in our guide which can be found using the navigation bar above. Although it’s not an article per se, I decided to post the information to the blog as it may provide inspiration for somebody out there…

The largest town in the area has been named Tsetserleg, which means garden in Mongolian. In keeping with the name, Tsetserleg is widely considered the most attractive aimag town in the whole of Mongolia. Sitting at an elevation of 1691m above sea level, the tree lined streets are surrounded by beautiful mountains and a Buddhist temple with a beautiful vista. Tsetserleg makes for a friendly and hospitable base, from which excursions to the local area can be arranged.

In and Around Tsetserleg

Tsetserleg

Museum of Arkhangai Aimag,
(Zaiyan Hiid Monastery)

Dating back to 1586 Zaiyan Hiid monastery comprises of six temples. The museum, found within the monastery complex, allowed the site to escape the religious purges of the Communist era. The museum features three halls, which in turn display artefacts of Mongolian lifestyle, religious icons and local artwork.

Galdan Zuu

Galdan Zuu – Temple

A small abandoned temple, Galdan Zuu, lies just up the hill past the museum en route to Bulgan Uul and offers great views of the surrounding area. The temple, renovated thanks to local donations, stands behind a 7m tall statue of Lord Buddha.

Bulgan Uul

Bulgan Uul – Cultural Site

Large with near vertical slopes, this pyramid shaped hill is comprised mostly of granite. The rock face of Bulgan Uul features many Buddhist inscriptions and is considered sacred to local Mongolians. Nestled amongst forests of larch and white birch trees, the area is protected as a nature reserve and is home to deer, wild boar and birdlife.

Buyandelgerüülekh Khiid

Buyandelgerüülekh Khiid – Monastery

Amongst the streets of Tsetserleg the Buyandelgerüülekh Khiid now oversees the religious needs of the town. Services are held frequently and the monastery complex is home to local religious artefacts.

Deerstone

Prehistoric Deer Stones

Outside Tsetserleg is the Tsagaan Davaa pass where you can find several Bronze Age deer stones known to the locals as ‘our old stone men’. The deer stones have been standing for over 3000 years. Facing the rising sun they depict images of ancient deer-bird spirits wrapped gracefully around the rectangular monuments. Deerstones can be found throughout Mongolia and range from just 50cm tall to some spectacular examples of over 2.5m.

Around Arkhangai Aimag

Ogii Nuur

Ogii Nuur – Lake

A popular stopover on the road from Ulaanbaatar to Tsetserleg, Ogii Nuur lies near the border with Bulgan aimag. The lake, renowned for its great fishing, also plays home to a diversity of bird species which migrate to the area from April.

The ruins of the ancient citadel Khar Balgas sit upon the banks of the Orkhon River. The citadel, founded in 751 AD, was the capital of the Uighur Khanate who ruled over Mongolia at this time. Unfortunately, today there is little to see, aside from portions of the outer wall, a Buddhist stupa and the remains of the rulers castle.

Ger camps cater for tourists who wish to break up the long journey between Ulaanbaatar and Tsetserleg with a pleasant stay by the lake.

Arkhangai Minivan

Kultegin and Bilge Khagan Monuments

20 km north of Khar Balgas sit two monuments attributed to another ancient Mongol empire, the Turkic Khanate Confederation. The first is a 3m high monument dedicated to Kultegin, who was the ruler of the empire from 684-731 AD. The other monument sits a kilometre away and is dedicated to Bilge Khagan who was the rulers younger brother.

These monuments constitute all that remains of the Turkish Khanate in modern day Mongolia. The monuments are adorned from top to bottom with inscriptions by Tonyukuk who acted as advisor to the Turkish Khans.

Taihar Chuluu

Taihar Chuluu – Rock Formation

Reverred amongst the locals and a regular stop for tourists who pass through the region, Taihar Chuluu rock is a granite pinnacle that stands 25m tall from the surrounding flat landscape. The rock was once covered in Turkic and Mongolian inscriptions; however time and graffiti have led these to become illegible.
Far more interesting are the local legends regarding origins of the great rock, the most popular of these is the tale of the hero who defeated a giant snake by making use of the rock:

A long time ago there was a hero known as Bökebilig (“Strong and wise”). Suddenly the ground shook and a giant snake began to emerge from the earth. Bökebilig fought the snake, pushing it back into the earth from whence it came. Taking a rock, Bökebilig sealed the mouth of the cave and trapped the monster below the ground.The rock remains in situ to this day.

A short distance from the rock, there is a small mountain called Altan sandali (“Golden throne”), where Bökebilig rested, washing his hands in the Tamir river.

An ovoo has been placed atop the granite pinnacle for local worshippers to gather and pay their respects. In addition, a local will be able to point you in the direction of nearby graves and deerstones dating back to Bronze Age Mongolia. The rock formation lies 2 km north of a small town called Ikh Tamir, itself 22 km west of Tsetserleg. A traditional ger camp lies close to the rock, catering to the needs of visitors.

Tsagaan Nuur

Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur – Lake

The White Lake has been a protected area since 1965 and surpasses the popular Lake Hovsgul in terms of activities and access to the wilderness. Lying 180km from Tsetserleg it is is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes to be found in Mongolia. On its shores sits Horgo Uul, a dead volcano that is believed to have last erupted just 5000 years ago. The volcano, one of six in the area, stands 200 meters wide, and 100 meters deep, surrounded by a black basalt landscape that is interspersed with pine trees. On the southern slopes of the volcano, the lava flows set into an interesting formation of bubbling rock pillars, now standing as natural ovoos. Tehiin Tsagaan Nuur covers an area of almost 300 sq km, featuring fresh clean water with beautiful headlands and beaches. The surrounding area is ideal for nomadic habitation, featuring rolling hills, grassy steppe and pine forests. As well as the opportunities for fishing, swimming and spotting unique birdlife, the lake is also visited by trekkers who make their way around on horse and foot. The entrance to the park lies on a road, just past the district centre Tariat and attracts an entrance fee of 1000T (US$1) per day. There are small additional charges for vehicles and fishing permits. Tourist ger camps cater to the needs of the regions visitors.

Tsenher Jiguur Hot Springs

Tsenher Jiguur Hot Springs

The hot springs are located 30 km to the south of Tsetserleg and have been developed by a Japanese company into the Tsenher Jiguur Health Spa. The waters of the spring flow remarably hot, but can are cooled by attending staff using a system of gates and water from the nearby river. There are a mixture of outdoor and indoor pools, with men and women bathing separately. Guests can stay at the nearby Tsenher Jiguur Springs ger camp that can house small groups and provide traditional Mongolian cuisine.

Back to the Mongolia Regional Attractions Mainpage…

On a side note: If your interested in Egypt Holidays, please check out theholidayplace.co.uk who kindly sponsored this post.

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  1. Nathan says:

    great advice thanks – would really love to visit Mongolia – hopefully next year :)

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