Like nearly one half of the Mongolian population, the capital city of Ulaanbaatar herself is a nomad. It is recorded that the city changed locations more than twenty times before finally settling in the Tuul river valley and the Four Holy Peaks in 1778. Mongolia’s capital is a vibrant city with 1 million residents, and has remained constant as the political, economic and cultural center of the nation, and as a city of rich in both character and contrast. Indeed, there aren’t many world capitals in which you can ride a horse, visit a nomadic family and enjoy fine dining and luxurious spa treatments all in same day.
What to see in and around Ulaanbaatar. National Museum of Mongolia, National History Museum, Bogd Khan’s winter palace, Gandan monastery, Mongolian Art Gallery, Zaisan memorial, traditional folk concert by Tumen Ekh ensemble, Fine Art Museum of Zanabazar. Terelj National Park, and Bogd Khan National Park are the key destinations around Ulaanbaatar.
Activities: sightseeing, hiking, monastery visiting, dining, shopping, cultural performance, horse riding, camel riding, kayaking, wildlife viewing, fishing
Ulaanbaatar city Introduction: Ulaanbaatar is the capital city of located on the basin of beautiful Tuul River, on the northern side of the Bogd Mountain a national protected area. Similar was the story with its name: Orgoo (1639-1706); Ikh Khuree (1706 - 1911); Niislel Khuree (1911 - 1923); and finally Ulaanbaatar (since 1924). In 1639 a fluent khalkha feudal lord Tusheet Khan Gombodorj elevated his son Zanabazar of 5 years to the head of the Buddhist religion and in his honor a nomadic town was named Urge. From 1639 for about 140 years it was a migrant city, until it became to settled finally in 1778 in its present location. After the victory of the People's Revolution, inaugurating a new era in the history of the development of the town.
Since today many industrial enterprises, residential areas, cultural and service centers have been built in and around of Ulaanbaatar. The capital has over The 4 peaks surrounding Ulaanbaatar are considered holy. The Tsetseegun, Chingeltei, Songino Khairkhan and Bayanzurkh mountains correspond, more or less, to the 4 points on the compass. These peaks are tremendous for hiking, and they're popular for their forests of larch trees, grasslands and stunning bird and animal life, including ibex and sable. Tsetseegun Uul is easily the most magnificent. At 2260m (7400ft), it's the highest point in the Bogd Khaan Mountain range, which dominates the skyline to the south of Ulaanbaatar . The trip is only sensible from the beginning of June to the end of September and a permit is required, which you can get at the entrance gate to the Bogd Khaan National Park, about 15km (9mi) south of Ulaanbaatar.
Sukhbaatar Square: In July 1921 in the center of Ulaanbaator, the 'hero of the revolution', Damdin Sukhbaatar, declared Mongolia's final independence from the Chinese. The Square now bears his name and features a statue of him astride his horse. The words he apparently proclaimed at the time are engraved on the bottom of the statue: 'If we, the whole people, unite in our common effort and common will, there will be nothing in the world that we cannot achieve, that we will not have learnt or failed to do.'
Sukhbaatar would have been very disappointed to learn that the Square was also where the first protests were held in 1989, which eventually led to the fall of communism. Today, the Square is occasionally used for rallies, ceremonies and even rock concerts, but is generally a serene place where only the photographers - standing in a straight line selling their services - are doing anything.
As you face North from the statue, the large grey building is State Parliament House, commonly known as Government House - which, like every ger, was built to face south. Directly in front of it is a mausoleum, built in 1921, which contains the remains of Sukhbaatar, and possibly Choibalsan. To the North-East is the tall, modern Palace of Culture, a useful landmark containing the Mongolian National Modern Art Gallery and several other cultural institutions. At the south-east corner of the Square, the salmon-pinkish building is the State Opera & Ballet Theatre. On the north-western corner of the Square, the bright yellow building houses the Golomt Bank, with the grey National Museum of Mongolian History behind it. South of the Golomt Bank, the clay-red building (now with bright blue patches around the windows) is the Mongolian Stock Exchange, which was opened in February 1992 in the former Children's Cinema.
Gandantegchilen Monastery - known as Gandan monastery: The center of Mongolian Buddhism and largest functioning monastery and temple complex in Mongolia, built in 1810 –onwards, partly destroyed in the 1930’s partly reconstructed after 1990. Houses for 6 temples and buddhist university. The main attractive sight is standing god statue called Megjid Janraiseg, which is god of good fortune and happiness.
The Megjid Janraiseg(Avalokiteshvara) temples was built 1911-1912 to celebrate the end of Manchu domination and it is said, to heal the Bogd Gegeen from blindness. It is in a mixed Chinese and Tibetan style and inside is the 25.6 meter and 20 ton Avalokiteshvara-Janraiseg statue. The deity was consecrated in 1996, is hollow and contains a stroehouse of precious items including sutras, madicinal herbs, bundles of Buddhist mantras and even a fully furnished ger. The statue was built with donations of Mongolian people as symbol of Buddhist revival in the mid 1990’s.
National History museum: The museum opened to the public in 1924 and has basic branches of studies and displays of geology, geography, flora and fauna, paleontology and anthropology. - prehistoric, historic and ethnographic section (includes some complete dinosaurs skeleton and eggs excavated in the Gobi desert), nature and mineralogical section. The museum houses a rich collection of historical and ethnographic exhibitions dating back to the period when first human beings resided in Central Asia.
It has displays on several millennia of the history of Mongolia beginning with the Stone Age, running through the Turkic and Mongol empires, the rise of Buddhism, the communist regime and ends with a colorful display of contemporary society.
Natural History museum: Located opposite of the National History museum. The museum displays exhibits on the geography, geology, botany, fauna and paleontology of Mongolia. Among the treasures on displays are 800 object from lower Cambrian Age (500 million years ago) to the Quaternary Age (10.000 to 15.000 years ago), including fossils of vertebrates, plants, leaf prints, dinosaur and mammals. The specimens of dinosaur skeletons and bones vary in size from a few centimeters to over 30 meters tall, and several are to be found only in Mongolia.
Bogd Khaan’s Winter Palace museum: Museum was built between 1893 and 1903. It was the residence and monastery of Mongolia’s last Bogd Khaan (religious and governmental leader), Javzan Damba Khutagt VIII. Bogd Khaan lived in this palace for 20 years and when he died (in 1924) the communist government prohibited any ongoing reincarnations. Contains religious and cultural items from the 17th century to the beginning of 20th century.
The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Art: Building constructed in 1905 as a department store, converted to museum in 1965. The Zanabazar Fine Art Museum is full collection of art works by artists, sculptures and painters of Mongolia from the ancient era to the modern time and even the ancient men who lived in this land during the Stone and Bronze ages. There are a number of rock inscriptions, graphic arts, Buddhist paintings, embroideries, as well as unique Tsam dancing costumes. The most valuable and beautiful exhibits are works of Zanabazar, the great sculptor and artist of the 17th century, who is also the first theocratic ruler of Mongolia. His 21 Tara statues and other works are displayed.
Zaisan Hill Memorial place: Located to the south of Ulaanbaatar, Zaisan Hill Memorial was erected on the 50th anniversary of the Communist Revolution and honors the Soviet and Mongolian soldiers who died in the fight against Japan and Nazi Germany. A good view can be had over the capital.
The Choijin Lama Museum: It is formerly a monastery and temple complex. The Museum is a classic example of the Buddhist traditional pagoda style architecture. This was the home of Luvsan Haidav Choijin Lama, brother of Bogd Khan and a prominent lama. The museum is famous for its collection of Buddhist art works. The collection includes all 108 Tsam masks used for ceremonial Tsam dancing, many of which are exhibited.
Manzushir monastery: It is built in 1733 lies on the southern end of the Bogd Khaan National Park. At one time the monastery had 70 temples and more than 1,000 lamas. Unfortunately, the Manzushir monastery was destroyed in 1932 by the Communists. Nowadays, the only remaining temple has been restored to its former glory. A visitor to the area can enjoy the beautiful landscape, visit the museum displaying some original photos and artifacts of the temples and displays of the flora and fauna of the surrounding area touch the copper bowl that once fed 1,000 lamas, and take a hike to visit the paintings of Taras and deities on the rocks overlooking the valley.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park: The third largest protected area in the country was established in 1993. The Gorkhi-Terelj National Park borders with the Khan Khentii Strictly Protected Area and receives the largest number of visitors due to its natural setting and proximity to Ulaanbatar, capital of Mongolia. Tere!j is named after the Terelj river and is an area of endless slopes and valleys with high-eroded rock formations, mountains covered in dense forests, and carpets of perennial wild flowers and Edeiweiss. There are opportunities for adventure activities such as rafting, horseback riding, hiking, skiing, camping, and mountain biking.
Hustai National Park: The Przewalski’s horse or Takhi, the last wild horse in the world has been successfully reintroduced into the wild in the KHUSTAI NATIONAL PARK in Tuv aimag. The landscape ranges from grassland steppe to forest steppe. The best time for visitors to see the wild horses and other animals such as deer and gazelle is at dawn and at dusk. Within the reserve there are a number of Turkic graves and stone men (Khun chuluu), and the Ongot archaeological complex is nearby.
Gun-Galuut nature reserve: It is one of the most popular eco tour destinations of Mongolia. The Reserve is truly the marvelous combination of high mountains, colorful flowers, pretty lakes, rivers and wetlands with its famous rare species. It is a home to endangered wild Mountain sheep-Argali the Big Horns, White-napped crane, Siberian White Crane, Hooded Crane and the rare Black stork, Asian heron, Whooper swan, Swan Goose and so on. Over 200 Argali sheep inhabit peacefully in Gun-Galuut now. Tourists visiting the Nature Reserve have the opportunities to do watching and taking photos of the Endangered species, rafting and fishing in the lakes and rivers, camping in a beautiful and peaceful nature, visiting nomadic family, riding horse, yak and camel and introducing with traditional nomadic lifestyle and culture.
“Chinggis khan statue complex”: Giant Genghis Monument is located 54 km from Ulaanbaatar among beautiful natural scenery on the bank of river Tuul, in the place called “Tsonjin Boldog”, memorial place connected with historic events. It’s one of the biggest advantages of the project, if comparing the location of other historical sightseeing, places, located not less than 300 miles rough drive. The statue in total is 40m high from surface erected at about 10 m high foundation and surrounded by columns. Far sighted Chinggis Khaan holds a golden whip in his right hand. Recreation area, restaurants and souvenir shops will be located in the column surrounded base of the Statue and from here visitors will ascend to the exhibition hall using elevator at the back of the horse. The visitors will walk to the head of the horse through chest and back neck of the horse, where they can have farseeing and good panorama view over the complex area.