Monday, August 09, 2010

Attractions in Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia and sites around
Like nearly one half of the Mongolian population, the capital city of Ulaanbaatar is herself a nomad. The city has changed locations more than twenty times over the past 350 years before taking root in her current location in a sweeping valley bounded by four sacred peaks, including Bogd Khan mountain to the south.
Along with her location, the capital has changed names over the years, having been called Urguu from 1639 to 1706, lh Huree from 1706 to 1911, Niislel Huree from 1911 -to 1923, and finally Ulaanbaatar since 1924). But despite her many transformations, Mongolia’s capital has remained constant as the political, economic, and cultural center of the nation, and as a city 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 the same day.

Ulaanbaatar today is a vibrant city of more than one million residents. The city reflects a close and sometimes amusing juxtaposition of nomadic traditions and modern society, perhaps best summarized by her skyline dotted with both gers (felt tents) and towering skyscrapers. The city’s contrast can also be found among those who call it home, from traditional-clothing-clad herders, to Armani suit-wearing business men and women, to a growing number of ex-patriots hailing from nearly every corner of the globe. Only in Ulaanbaatar might you find a horse cart bouncing down the central avenue alongside a Mercedes Benz, or a market selling both livestock and designer clothing. In short, there is something for everyone, and always a site to behold in Ulaanbaatar.

If cities have a heart, and they certainly do, then the heart of Ulaanbaatar is Sukhbaatar Square. This sprawling plaza situated in front of the capital building, Is THE PLACE where residents and visitors gather for celebrations, exhibitions, and concerts, or just for a leisurely stroll with friends. Running along the southern edge of the square is Enkh Taivanii Orgon Choloo (Peace Avenue), Ulaanbaatar’s main thoroughfare, which spans from East to West across the city. On Peace Avenue, you’ll find a myriad of shopping hotspots, selling everything from cashmere, to antiques and souvenirs, to high fashion couture. You’ll also find a surprising variety of restaurants, bars, and cafes, serving up Italian, French, Korean, Chinese, Turkish, American, and Mongolian cuisines, to name but a few.

Besides serving as the jumping off point for all travel throughout the country, Ulaanbaatar has much to offer visitors. The city’s eight museums are bursting at the seams with treasures such as 3,000 year old Hunnu artifacts, prehistoric dinosaur bones, and Chinggis Khaan-era armor and weapons. Dozens of cultural venues throughout the city present daily performances of dance, theatre, music, and contortionism. The city is also home to one of the world’s largest open air markets, Narantuul, with more than 2500 vendors selling everything under the sun.
After dark is when the fun really begins as Ulaanbaatar’s night scene comes alive. Restaurants, lounges, dance clubs, and movie theatres play host to lively crowds of residents and visitors, each adding to the pulse of this growing city.

When the city lights go on and the daily tempo lessens, you might find yourself in one of Ulaanbaatar’s theaters. Each theater has its own repertoire, and all together they show the richness of Ulaanbaatar theater life. Comedies or dramas, operas or musicals, classical or modern ballet, contemporary stage or the playful world of puppets … the choice is large, and the theater is a magnet where your world is replaced by another….

Gandantegchilen monastery, the only functioning Buddhist monastery that stood test of time and was allowed to carry out services on a daily basis during the Communist years symbolizes the spiritual
past of the Mongols. One of the temples hosts the tallest standing Buddha statue in Central and East Asia - the Megjid Janraisag, the Buddha of Future. The intricate rooftops of the monasteries depict the artistic
techniques polished by the ages and that have been passed through generations. The cobblestones of Gandantegchilen, Dashchoilin Khiid, and Choijing Lama monasteries, the latter turned into a museum,
whisper the stories of the early settlers that takes you back as early as the 17th century.

Manzushir monastery 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 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 130 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 rives, 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” 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.

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