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The Steppe

The Steppe

Read it in French: La Steppe et Taiga

Mongolia is a land of heroes, myths and legends. Who does not know the Huns, the Tatars, Genghis Khan, the Golden Horde, the Yuan dynasty of the Middle Kingdom? Who can not imagine the immensity of the steppes, the valor of a people of nomads perpetuating a way of life and ancestral traditions within a time when the world seems everywhere else to run in pursuit of Time?

Without even mentioning the attraction linked to the wide open spaces, where the man shares his life between warmth of the hearth of the yurt and roughness of climate on horseback in the steppe. A world where everything is declared on the theme of the Five Muses, innumerable herds of goats, sheep, horses, bovids and camels. Here, there are 15 times more cattle than men on a vast territory like three times France, with 50% of the population still nomadic farmer, far from the city and its growing modernism.

The steppe is the cradle of those Mongol hordes who never ceased to make the world of the Ponant tremble in the East. The “barbarians” who, at their peak, reigned over the largest empire history has ever known! From a Blue Wolf and a White Biche was born a great lord, who from his capital Karakorum launched his men to the conquest of the world. The walls and temples of Erdene Zuu, the most powerful Buddhist monastery in this region, were erected in the ruins of the legendary city of Genghis Khan.

Then began an unbounded friendship between Tibet and Mongolia, which after two centuries of Manchu oppression and seven decades of communism, seems never to stop.

To have :

CAPITALE OULAN BATOR

Ulaanbaatar, the capital of the country, is not confined to this political, economic and commercial role; populated by 1.1 million inhabitants, it represents more than a third of the population and is the showcase of the rising urban half of the inhabitants of the country.

But be careful, do not trust appearances … the city, like its inhabitants, presents an external aspect not very representative of his personality. Here, aesthetically, almost the whole city still dates from the Soviet era, and the functional greatly relies on aesthetics. However, behind this aspect that many travelers can find depressing, Ulan Bator presents undeniable centers of interests. The monastery of Gandan, the historic and spiritual heart of the city, overlooks the city center and is inserted between quarters of yurts and more modern neighborhoods; museums are didactic and accessible to all audiences; the Sükhbaatar Square, the Nairamdal Park, the main streets and the markets are popular places very lively or it is good to walk to take the pulse of the city.

And even if the break can seem complete between “city rats” and “field rats”, do not let it take you; under the aspects of modern city dwellers, many inhabitants of Ulaanbaatar are still able to turn over their jackets, pass a del and find themselves in the countryside as comfortable as in town.

MONASTERE BEREEVEN KHIID

The monastery of Bereeven was built in 1784, and destroyed during the purges of 1937/38. Once important, it consisted of different temples, one of which has 32 columns and 3 staircases; and counted up to 8,000 monks. Partly restored thanks to American funds, today we can still see in addition to these temples the imposing Manchir, one of the 10 main divinities present; as well as remarkable engravings of letters of the soyombo alphabet.

MASSIF BOGD KHAN UUL

Massif of sacred mountains south of Ulan Bator; residence of the old white man, mountain divinity in shamanism, it is a protected area since the time of Genghis Khan and one of the first natural parks of Mongolia. This massif has mountains and hills with a wooded slope (coniferous) and a naked slope, with beautiful forests, few buildings and human habitats.

RIVIERE KHERLEN

Originating in the Khentii massifs, the Kherlen is one of the three largest rivers in Mongolia, running 1264 km before finishing its race in Dalai Lake, China. There are many fish (taïmen, lenok, pike, shadow, carp, catfish …) and migratory birds and other (goose, duck …).

RESERVATION KHUSTAIN NURUU

Located 80 km west of Ulan Bator, this nature reserve is well-known for its famous horses of Prjevalski, “prehistoric” horses, of which we can see performances of more than 15 000 years in our caves of Lascaux!

These horses, which disappeared naturally in the 1960s, were reintroduced into Mongolia thanks to the populations present in the zoos of different countries; reintroduction successful, since the twenty horses arrived in 1992 is today has risen to nearly 150!

Other reserves have taken over from that of Khustai and see their population of Prjevalski grow from year to year.

MONASTERY MANCHIR

In this massif, the site of Manchir, one of the most important monasteries in central Mongolia, of which only ruins remain today after the Soviet purges. This site is also a site of historical battle between the Manchus and the tribe Oyrad in the 18th century, which symbolizes the end of this ethnic group and the Manchu holdings for nearly two centuries over the whole of Mongolia.

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