Central Mongolia is includes the most visited areas in countryside. This region has many historical sights , natural wonders in Mongolia’s heartland, particularly in the Orkhon River Valley, known as Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape, which is an encompasses an extensive area of pastureland on both banks of the Orkhon River and includes numerous archaeological remains. It was registered by UNESCO in the World Heritage List as representing evolution of nomadic pastoral traditions spanning more than two millennia.
ORKHON WATERFALL & ORKHON VALLEY
Chinghis khan’s choice of Karakorum as the capital of the Mongol Empire was no coincidence. The surroundingOrkhon Valley was the center of preceding nomadic empires for centuries and had enormous symbolic importance. The valley had attracted humankind since Paleolithic times some 750,000 years ago. Therefore Orkhon valley is one of the world’s most important cultural regions and recognized as a “Cultural Landscape” of the UNESCO World Heritage in 2004. The Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape is the place to visit for anyone who wishing to follow the historical path of the Mongol Empire. Orkhon valley is boasts its’ natural beauties, making it one of the favourite places among tourists. You will witness unique lifestyle, culture and rare historical memorials. Beauty of Orkhon Valley, Orkhon waterfall formed by combination volcanic eruption and earthquakes some 20000 years ago cascades down from a height 27 meters. The Orkhon, longest river in Mongolia, begins at the state worshipped mountain Suvraga Khairkhan in the Khangai mountain range. The drainage basin of the river is 132835sq.km. The river is 10-60 m wide to begin with but it becomes 120-150 m around the end and the speed of the river flow decreases. The area is ideal for fishing, horse riding, cycling and photography. The rivers have handful species of river fish such as pike, sturgeon, hucho taimen, common asp, Siberian grayling, roach etc. Scenic and untouched natural distinct spot allow good opportunities for hiking and horseback riding. There are many rocks and boulders around the river as well as some waterfalls like a small waterfall with 4-5 m height and the Orkhon (Ulaan tsutgalan ) waterfall biggest in Mongolia at a height of 26 m. The Orkhon river Valley has been protected since 2006 as a National Park.
The most prominent historical site in Orkhon Valley is Kharkhorum, ancient capital of Mongol empire. Kharakhorum, founded in 1220 by Chinghis khan, was not only the capital of the vast Mongolian Empire, but the epic center of trade along Silk Road, and a cultural melting pot bridging east and
west. It was from there that the Mongol Empire governed and controlled through Asia and Eastern Europe for over 400 years. Craftsmen from Mongolia and abroad participated in the construction of the city. Highlight of construction in Kharakhorum occurred during the reign of Ogodei khan. At that time, the inhabitants of the city were mostly merchants and craftsmen who arrived to Kharakhorum from every corner of the world. Today the only information known about the rise and prominence of Kharakhorum comes from the notes and stories of travelers who visited the city during its years as the treasure of the Mongol Empire. Famous travelers and historians such as William De Rubruk, Plano De Carpini, Rashid Ad Din and Marco Polo provided marvelous descriptions of Kharkhorum.
“Kharkhorin is surrounded by big walls, four palaces of Tumen amgalant had a green tile floor, a large tree sculpted of silver and other precious metals rose up from the middle of the courtyard and loomed over the palace, with the branches of the tree extended into the building.Silver fruit hung from the limbs and it had four golden serpents braided around the trunk, while within the top of the tree was placed a trumpet angel, all is performing for the emperor’s pleasure. The four corners of the gate had a trading market, shining monuments on the four turtle are in four corners, Christianity, Islamic, Buddhist religion, 12 Buddhist temples were settled and artisan districts and traders were to the streets of major cities.”
When Khubilai Khaan moved the capital of the Mongol Empire to the China, establishing the Yuan Dynasty, Kharakhorum began losing its importance. In 1379 much of the city was badly damaged during an attack by the army of Ming Dynasty. Today there is an museum does show off some of the artefacts.
In 1380, Kharkhorum was destroyed. But approximately two centuries later, on the same site, there arose the yurt of Avtai Khan, founder of the Erdene Zuu Monastery. The great circular platform which form its base is still visible today. The monastery of Erdene Zuu is a focal point in the history and culture of the Mongol people.
Besides paintings, ornaments and embroideries dating from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, it houses a whole library of rare manuscripts and wood-block printed editions. Here, too, are preserved the works of the seventeenth-century painter and sculptor Zanabazar, great illustrator of the Buddhist canon and one of the first Mongol artists to have attained universal stature. In his day there was an extraordinary flowering of the arts and culture in Mongolia. When its heyday, there were about 62 temples, over 500 buildings nearby and 1500 monks. But during the Stalinist purge in 1930s the monastery was destroyed. In 1965 it restored and became a museum.
The monastery was registered in “ Heritage of Mongolia” by UNESCO.
KHORGO EXTINCT VOLCANO
Khorgo Mountain is a dormant volcano which lies on the east of the Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake. The Khorgo crater, situated at an altitude of 2.210 meters with a diameter of 20 meters and depth of 70 to 80 meters, is the most interesting at all. The Khorgo volcano is covered with basalt. The northern slope is covered with Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica). It has been protected since 1965, fully in 1997, to safeguard spectacular mountain scenery and endangered fauna and flora. There is no lake in this crater, but clouds of steam jet out it is crevices forming ice moulds in winter, which from a distance look like large flocks of sheep scattered on the mountain. Near the crater there are dozens of small caverns with stalactites hanging from their ceiling and walls. About 8000 years ago volcanic lava flooded the valleys nearby which are covered today with small forests of Siberian larch and a great variety of berries and flowers. In the woods there are lots of deer, wild goat and other animals, as well as various kinds of birds such as Red Deer, Siberian Deer, Wild Boar, Ruddy Shelduck and Duck.
TERKHIIN TSAGAAN LAKE
Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake (Terkh White Lake ) is freshwater lake,located near the Khorgo volcano crater in Tariat soum in Arkhangai province. Fresh water and volcanogenic Terkh White Lake, is 16 km long from west to east and 6km wide from north to south.
Khorgo dormant volcano, Terkhiin Tsagaan river and Khuduu river have been protected as a National Park since 1995. This lake was created as a result of a 4050 cm thick basaltic blockage of Terkhiin River, following the eruption of Khorgo volcano and some other volcanoes.
The highest Khorgiin togoo is located on the east shore of Lake Terkhiin Tsagaan. From its summit, has a splendid view over the whole region and the lake. Terkhiin Tsagaan has more than 10 species of fish such as Taimen, perch, lenok and pike. It’s registered in Ramsar’s Convention because many birds including swan, shelduck, duck, gull, common heron and great white egret gather here. There is a small Island with 500sq km area and 28m relative altitude, called Nuuriin Tolgoi, in the middle of the lake. About ten small rivers feed the White lake of the Terkh. Ten narrow rivers confluence to the Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur.
Taikhar Chuluu (Taikhar Rock) is one of the tourist attractions when travelling to Arkhangai province. This big 20-metres (66 feet) high rock stands on a bank of Khoid Tamir River in Ikhtamir Soum. It’s covered with 150 writings in many different languages and dating back from many different periods (runic, Sogd, Uyghur, Mongolian, Nangiad, Tibetan writings). The oldest one is the runic writing, related to Turkish period of the 6th and 7th centuries. An ovoo was placed at its top. Unfortunately, there are many graffiti on this rock and the old writings almost disappeared. This cliff was formed by separating from the river bank due to millions of years’ continual flow of Khoid Tamir River through granite cape on its northern bank. The government issued a law to protect the rock in 1994.
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