Karakorum

The Monastery Erdenezuu

Focus: Landscapes & History

Duration: 3 days

Season: year round

Even if you are traveling with limited time, you should at least visit the most important sights of Central Mongolia. Contemporary missionaries and ambassadors left intriguing descriptions of the Mongol capital city of the early 13th century. The stones of ancient Karakorum have been used to build the biggest and most impressive monastery, Erdenezuu.

Erdenezuu

After leaving the capital in western direction you will reach the grassland. You meet herders with huge flocks of horses, goats and sheep. The emerald green of the grassland is dotted with white gers, the traditional dwelling of the nomads. The landscape suddenly changes when you reach Bayangobi. A long strip of huge sand dunes rise out of the flat grassland. In the nearby Hogno Han Mountains, you visit the small Ovgoni Temple. The following morning you continue to Karakorum, today a small city of wooden houses.

An impressive wall with 108 white stupas is enclosing the nearby monastery. Of more than 60 buildings only 3 were not destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1930’s. The monastery still has an impressive collection of books, statues and religious masks, which have been hidden in the nearby mountains during communist time. The next morning you will visit a Buddhist ceremony held in the main prayer hall. Just outside the monastery walls you will find a stone turtle, which used to mark the boundaries of ancient Karakorum. A 5 hours drive on a paved road brings you back to Ulaanbaatar.