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The Khangai

The Khangai

Read it in French: Le Khangai

Two ancient massifs which echo: the Khövsgöl, located at the northern limits of the territory, extends the lush forest and Siberian taiga; the Khangai, in the heart of the country, alternates between wooded slopes and basalt steppes. Both impressive songs of the Earth, between mountains and valleys, volcanoes and faults, gorges and canyons. Their high altitudes and the fertility of their lands make them places of predilection of the nomads and their herds of yaks.

The Khangai is also the valley of the Orkhon, the birthplace of the successive dynasties of the formidable Empires of the Steppes, a World Heritage Site. Going up the river and its banks of basalt, stelae, stones and ruins remind us of their existence.
To have :
DUNE ELSEN TASARKHAI = MONGOL ELS

A few steps away from Sweet Gobi stretches over a few tens of kilometers Elsen tasarkhai, the “dune parcelée”, one of the 33 “Gobi” or “desert” of Mongolia. In the months of April and May, or in September, when they are fat, prepared for the cold of winter, go on camels’ back, Bactriane camels, for two hours of hiking in the heart of this desert expanse of particles of sand and stones torn to the mountain by the wind. In this semi-arid desert where fauna and flora live, let yourself be intoxicated by the most emblematic of the endemic species living here, juniper. Pushing in numbers, this sacred plant called “arts” perfumes its dunes. Picked, reduced to powder and blessed by monks, it is burned like an incense on the altars of the monasteries or those, family, of the nomadic breeders.

KARAKORUM

If there is not much left of the ancient capital of the Mongol Empire, the name of Karakorum alone remains famous and attractive.
The current city of Kharkhorin is mostly the seat of the most famous monastery of the Mongolian territory: Erdene Zuu. Built from the end of the 16th century on the ruins of the ancient capital (and even from!), It symbolizes the arrival of Buddhism in Mongolia and its importance to come.
Other sites: stone turtles dating from the Karakorum period; the memorial of the history of the Empires; or the unusual phallic stone.
There was a time to return to the present Kharkhorin as the capital of the country, but this city of a few thousand inhabitants could not today hold the role of capital to the country. The city, which has the only hydroelectric power station in the country, lives mainly in the surrounding agricultural areas.

MASSIF KHÖGNÖ KHAN
Set of mountains regarded as sacred since the time of the Turks, this massif presents very beautiful massive rock formations.
Nature reserve with diverse and varied sites: the Erdene Khambiin khiid monastery, rebuilt in the 1990s after being destroyed during the Soviet purges; on the same site and higher, the ruins of Övgön khiid monastery, also destroyed and place of a historical battle between the Khalkha tribe, majority today, and that of the Oïrats, refractory to the expansion of Buddhism because it is too contrary to the warlike manners of this tribe.
On a hill overlooking the desert steppe plain, the memorial of Queen Mandukhai, emblematic figure of Mongolian history in the 15th century for her leading role in the importance of the Khalkha tribe following Genghis Khan.

VALLEY AND FALLS OF THE ORKHON

The Orkhon Valley is one of the few sites in Mongolia to be classified World Heritage of Humanity. And this, both for the beauty of its natural site, green plains and hills bursting with basalt lines extending on both sides of the banks of the Orkhon River; as well as for its wealth of sites of past times: steles a deer, khirgisüür (tombs in cairn), tombs with slabs, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic statues, ruins of ancient capitals …
The falls of the Orkhon, located in the heart of the valley, have water only after rain or showers; but getting there allows you to pace this beautiful region. About fifteen meters high, they offer a nice walk along the banks of the river, at the bottom of canyon, after a difficult descent!

MONASTERE SHANKH

Founded in 1646 under the probable impulse of Zanabazar, the first 11-year-old Bogdo Gegeen, the Shankh monastery was nomadic until 1787, when it found its present location. More than 23 successive constructions of its temples will lead in 1885 to what we know today. “Monastery of the West” because of its importance, it counted up to 2000 monks and many schools, and was renowned to shelter the black standards of war of Genghis Khan. Closed after the purges, 5 less secretly safeguarded the activity in a yurt during the communist period; one of them is at the origin of its reopening in 1990, a stupa planned in his honor. The monastery now houses a group of 30 monks.

LAC TARA NUUR
In this oasis, 8 km away from Sweet Gobi, in the heart of the Khögnö Khan steppes, fauna and flora shine under the benevolent gaze of Tara, the Buddhist deity, a Buddhist deity venerated by the Mongols since the end of the 16th century.
Between sand dunes, semi-volcanic rock and green steppe, the flight of egrets and cranes that dot the lake is cut here against a background of blue sky. The herds of the numerous nomadic herdsmen settled in the area are grazing. With a bit of luck, you might see the lakeside, for a moment, deer and white-tailed gazelles.

ERMITAGE TÖVKHÖN KHIID

The “brother” hermitage of Erdene Zuu, the main monastery of Mongolia, is located some 60 km east of here, in the famous Karakorum.
Tövkhön khiid, on the other hand, is in a more remote location, far from men and towns; this hermitage was built to serve as a refuge in Zanabazar, the Bogdo Gegeen (spiritual and political leader) of Mongolia. A refuge or, in this seventeenth century movement, he drew his strength to govern the country and preserve it from the Manchu aims; but also a refuge from which he derived his inspiration as a religious leader and a prodigal artist.
The hermitage, although undergoing the Soviet purges of the 1930s, is today a very beautiful ensemble of Buddhist architecture, in a magnificent wooded setting; this group of small temples perched on heights is a place of pilgrimage very popular for the Mongols.

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