© Nova Fisher novatravels.net
China and Mongolia Land of Dynasties


Our   flight   from   Beijing   arrived   midday   and   we   checked   in   to   The   Blue   Sky   hotel.   We   spent   over   30   minutes   in   a   queue   in   the   bank   to change   some   money.   (visitors   are   not   allowed   to   bring   in   or   take   out   Mongolian   togrog   currency   from   Mongolia).   We   wandered   around Sukhbaatar   Square,   named   after   the   revolutionary   hero   of   1921,   Damdiny   Sukhbaatar   who   declared   independence   from   China,   and Genghis   Khan   Square.   Along   one   end   of   the   square   is   the   Parliament   building.   We   visited   the   Choijin   Lama   Temple   Museum.   We returned   to   Ulaanbaatar   for   another   day   between   our   trips   to   the   Gobi   Desert   and   Lake   Khovsgol   and   visited   the   Winter   Palace,   Zaisan Memorial, Gandan Monastery and the National Museum. Ulaanbaatar,   meaning   “Red   Hero”,   was   so   named   in   1924,   following   the   creation   of   the   Mongolian   People’s   Republic.   The   city   was founded   in   1639   as   a   moveable   Buddhist   monastic   centre   but   in   1778   it   settled   permanently   at   its   present   location   on   the   Tuul   River   in the   north-eastern   central   Mongolia.   The   Buddhist   temples   now   co-exist   with   the   increasing   number   of   skyscraper   towers.   The   city   is   at an   elevation   of   about   1,310   metres   (4,300   ft)   and   is   home   to   almost   half   of   the   country's   2.7m   population.   We   saw   an   immense   amount of high rise construction work taking place.

Choijin Lama Temple Museum

Choijin    Lama    Temple    Museum    is    a    very    interesting,    old,    authentic    Buddhist temple   in   the   city   centre,   sadly   surrounded   by   high   rise   office   blocks   and   a   hotel. With   so   many   artefacts,   the   five   temples   are   more   like   a   museum.   It   houses many   of   the   relics   from   Luvsan   Haidav   Choijin   Lama   (‘Choijin’   is   an   honorary   title given   to   some   monks),   the   state   oracle   and   brother   of   the   Bogd   Khan.   There   is   a small   entry   charge   and,   as   with   many   sites,   you   have   to   pay   to   take   photos   (a very high charge). I fully recommend a visit.

The Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan

The   Winter   Palace   of   the   Bogd   Khan   was   built   between   1893   and   1903.   The palace   is   the   only   one   left   from   originally   four   residences   of   the   8th   Jebtsun - damba   Khutughtu,   the   Bogd   Khan.   The   palace   was   spared   destruction   by   the Russians and turned into a museum. On   display   are   many   of   the   Bogd   Khan's   possessions,   such   as   his   throne,   bed,   his collection   of   art   and   stuffed   animals,   his   ornate   ceremonial   ger   lined   with   the skins   of   150   snow   leopards,   and   a   pair   of   ceremonial   boots   given   to   the   Khan   by Russian Tsar Nicholas II.

Zaisan memorial 

The   Zaisan   Memorial,   a   tall,   thin   landmark   on   a   hillside,   it   offers   the   best   views of    Ulaanbaatar    and    the    surrounding    hills    and    the    Tuul    River.    Built    by    the Russians   to   commemorate   ‘unknown   soldiers   and   heroes’   from   various   wars, the   memorial   features   a   circular   memorial   mosaic   /   painting   depicting   scenes   of friendship   between   the   people   of   the   USSR   and   Mongolia.   The   enormous   tank at   the   bottom   of   the   hill   was   part   of   the   Mongolia   People's   Tank   Brigade   that saw action against the Nazis during WWII. Classic soviet style artwork. There   are   about   200   steps   to   get   to   the   top   so   it’s   not   for   everyone,   but   the climb is worth it to see the incredible mosaics at the top.

Gandan Monastery

Gandan   Monastery   is   much   like   a   monastery   village   as   a   few   roads   run   throughout it.   It   has   some   beautiful   chapels   and   courtyards.   We   went   into   the   temples,   some of   which   we   saw   the   monks   during   their   chant ceremonies.    In    the    Tibetan    style    temple,    Mijig Janraisig,   we   saw   its   huge   75   foot   golden   buddha statue,    which    is    surrounded    by    brass    prayer wheels and 1008 miniature longevity deities. Gandantegchinlen   Khiid   is   a   Tibetan-style   monastery   is   the   largest   and   most   revered   functioning monastery   in   Mongolia.   It   was   constructed   by   the   order   of   Emperor   Yongzheng   in   1727.   It   was   one   of the   few   monasteries   to   escape   the   soviet   purges   of   the   1930's,   being   spared   as   an   example   of Mongolia's   feudal   past.      Since   the   fall   of   communism   in   1990   it   has   been   renovated   and   restored   into a working monastery and currently has over 150 monks in residence.

National History Museum 

The   National   History   Museum      gives   a   great   insight   into   Mongolian   history   Laid out   on   2   floors,   it   has   some   really   interesting   exhibits.   It   goes   from   the   Stone Age   to   the   present   with   many   artefacts   giving   a   great   insight   into   the   Mongo - lian   culture   and   influences   of   other   cultures.   The   costume   section   is   really impressive.   I   found   the   first   floor   too   hot   and   uncomfortable   so,   unfortunately, had   to   rush   the   end   of   my   tour.   You   can   take   photos   on   the   ground   floor   but not on the first floor. A must visit place in Ulaanbaatar.