Mongolia located in Central Asia is bordered by both Russia and China. Although Mongolia's history started in 209 BC, it wasn't until 1911 that it declared its independence. Ancient nomads lived in this region whose lifestyle has influenced the culture as a whole. Traveling throughout Mongolia by train is a unique experience indeed.
The Stone and Bronze Age are present in Mongolia's architecture as well as the Iron Age. Temples were built in a circular manner (Ger) along with stone sculptures and rock paintings resembling the nomadic life Mongolians had a few centuries ago.
Worshiping was done in squared temples. The first of these being the Batu-Tsagaan which was built in 1654. Ger architecture includes the Lamasery Dashi Choling in Ulaabaatar. If you are into Tibetan tradition, then the Eerdene Zuu lamasery temple is a must visit. Chinese heritage can be witnessed in the Choijin Lamiin Sume museum.
Sports and Festivals
The prevalent sports in Mongolia include archery, horse racing, and Mongolian wrestling. Tours around Mongolia often offer visitors to have either a horse or camel ride throughout the country passing from breath-taking deserts to lively green pastures. Mountains can also be explored on the horseback.
Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism, and nomadic lifestyle have inspired Mongolia's music and festivals which you can visit when traveling by the Trans-Siberian railway as well. Khoomei, or throat singing is extremely popular here. Famous instruments include the Morin Khuur. In Ulaanbaatar, the Nadaam Festival is held from the 11th to the 13th of July each year. Wrestling, archery, and horse racing are displayed during the festival as well. Other two famous festivals include the Tsagaan Sar which is held when spring starts, and the Ovoo Worship which showcases monks having rituals and praying for rain and fish after winter has passed.
The Attractions of Ulaanbaatar
Ulaanbaatar is Mongolia's capital and one of the stops of the Trans-Mongolian route. It is very close to Beijing, China's capital, a bit more than 700 miles away from it. Ulaanbaatar isn't popular for its beauty, however, people are very friendly and you will feel the warmth of the place. The city is home to several attractions worth visiting.
The Gandan Monastery is a must see in this city. It is the most important Tibetan monastery in the whole city and the only one that survived the communist regime. Hundreds of monks live there and it contains a religious university and astounding temples. Tourists are captured by both its beauty and importance.
You may want to visit the Natural History Museum later on. The museum was established in 1924 and it contains expositions and research of fauna and flora, geology, paleontology, etc. More than 6,000 historic items are exhibited and there are temporary exhibitions as well. The dinosaur exhibition is nothing short of spectacular.
On the outskirts of the city you can find the Gorkhi Terelj National Park. It is located within 40 miles of the center of Ulaanbaatar and there are many activities available for tourists including camel riding, rock climbing, etc.
At the southern part of the park you can find many restaurants, souvenir stores, and camel and horse rides. There is a twenty-meter wide lake along with hot water springs that are attractive for tourists. Those who like adventure can climb rock formations and enjoy the amazing views from the top of them.
One of the great highlights in Ulaanbaatar is the Bogd Khan Palace Museum. It is over 200 years old and it's considered an architectural masterpiece. Religion an history are the two most important themes in this museum. Artifacts found here are dated from the 1700s to the 2000s including seven prayer temples.
Another popular museum is the Choijin Lama Temple Museum located in the city's center. It is made up of 4 temples and it is over 100 years old. In the principal temple you can find a Buddha statue from the 1800s. This museum is full of paintings, sculptures, masks and statues made up of bronze.