|Most of Central Mongolian territory is predominated by Khangai Mountain Range, the most extensive from the three major ranges and other smaller ranges. This is the most vegetated part of the country and encompasses several natural zones including mountain and mountain steppe zone, and Siberian taiga forest. Fertile soil and numerous rivers, streams and lakes support a variety of plants and the area is habitat to a huge array of animal species including, elk, Siberian roe deer, wolf, fox, wild boar, ibex, lynx and brown bear, just to name a few.|
The landscape of Khangai Mountain Range is very different from the Altai Mountains. While high rocky cliffs, and deep basins are dominant in both Mongol Altai and Gobi Altai, Khangai Range is featured by broad, warped dome-shaped mountains covered with grass and trees. Khangai is the water source for many rivers including the largest Mongolian rivers Selenge, Orkhon, Ider, Zavkhan and Terh rivers as well as lakes numerous smaller lakes including Terhiin Tsagaan Nuur lake, Ugii Nuur Lake (Arkhangai aimag), Naiman Nuur Lake (Uvurkhangai aimag), Khar Nuur and Telmen lakes (Zavkhan aimag).
Numerous ancient burial sites and fortress ruins come from the various nomadic people who inhabited Mongolia during different periods of history are found in this region, much of which being found in historic Orkhon Valley. The symbolic ruins of Karakorum and famous Erdenezuu Monastery lie in this region.
The Symbolic ruins of Karakorum, the ancient capital city of Mongolia is definitely worth to visit for those who value the history of Mongolia. Today the main highlight of the ancient city is Erdenezuu Monastery, the second largest Buddhist monastery in the country. The ruins of Karakorum lie about 370 kilometers west of Ulaanbaatar, in Uvurhangai aimag. Karakorum city was established in 1220 and served as the capital city of the Mongolia for 140 years. Now the Government of Mongolia is under process of implementing Karakorum – Model City project which will eventually turn to make Karakorum the capital city of Mongolia again.
Arkhangai (Northern Khangai) is one of the most picturesque provinces of central Mongolia conveniently located on the road heading towards the wild west and stunning northern regions. The province is full of forests, rugged terrain, lakes and lofty peaks. There are numerous naturally beautiful sights in the territory of this province occupying northern part of Khangai Range. Along the road heading toward the west travelers can visit Tsenher Jiguur Hot Spa, beautiful lake of Terhiin Tsagaan Nuur, volcanic crater of Horgo. Other attractive places include Chuluut river and its canyon and mysterious Taikhar Rock.
The first Buddhist monastery, Erdenezuu, was built on the ruins of Karakorum in 1586 by order of Abtai Sain Khan, a distant but powerful relative of Chinggis Khaan. Stone monuments, bricks and many other building materials from the ruins of Karakorum were used in the construction of the monastery.
The monastery occupies an area of 1,600 square meters, which is exactly 10 times smaller than the original city area and is surrounded by a stone wall with 108 stupas and four gates at all sides. The Erdenezuu monastery preserves works of the Mongolian artisans, painters, sculptors, embroiders and craftsmen of 17-19th centuries.
Erdenezuu flourished, and at one point had one hundred temples and thousand lamas (Buddhist monks) in residence. During the 1930’s political purges, most of the temples were destroyed and many of the lamas were either executed or imprisoned. The temple remained closed until 1965 when it was finally permitted by the Mongolian government to reopen as a museum, not a place of worship. However, Erdenezuu would keep its former glory as a sacred place of worship for local Mongolians and serve as an important historical site for visitors.
Road connecting the central Mongolia and western destinations goes across the pretty town of Tsetserleg the capitol of Arkhangai aimag. Located on the southern slope Bulgan mountain and not far from Tamir river the town is one of the most greenest in Mongolia (Tsetserleg means ‘garden’). Although Tsetserleg is a tiny town, it has lot to offer to visitors, including the Zayin Hiid Monastery and the Nature Museum located in a picturesque valley in the outskirts of the town. Situated at the foot of Mt. Bulgan Zayin Hiid Monastery has been preserved remarkably intact. Historically, the first temple of the monastery opened in 1586 and 5 more temples were built in 1679. The monastery now houses the Museum of Arhangai aimag that exhibit numerous ethnographic items including traditional clothes, handicrafts, sculptures, ancient weapons etc.
|Tsenher Jiguur Health Spa|
Tsenher Jiguur Spa, which is now serving as health spa for tourists, lies 30 kilometers south of Tsetserleg town. The water of Tsenher Jiguur spring is remarkably hot at +86.5oC and contains hydrogen sulfide.
|Taihar Chuluu Rock|
Mysterious Taihar Chuluu Rock stands not far from Tsetserleg town. The rock is steep-sided pinnacle of granite with a height of 25 meters. It rises abruptly from the flat grassland in the basin of Tamir River. Locals worship the rock as a deity. There is no common agreement amongst geologists about the origin of this puzzling phenomenon, and it remains an enigma.
|Lake Terhiin Tsagaan Nuur|
Surrounded by extinct volcanoes, Terhiin Tsagaan is one of the most beautiful lakes in Mongolia. Being elevation at an altitude of 2,060 meters, the lake occupies and area of over 300 square kilometers. This astonishingly beautiful crystal clear water lake is renowned for its fish and bird life. Pike is found in plenty and bird species including ruddy shelduck and great cormorant are common.
The dead volcano of Horgo stands on the Terhiin Tsagaan Nuur Lake. There is a huge volcanic crater, about 200 meters wide and 100 meters deep. A large solidified lava formation on the southern slope of Horgo is trickily called “Basalt Ger”.
|Chuluut River and Canyon|
400 kilometers long Chuluut River starts from Hangai Mountain Range near Egiin Davaa and joins the Ider River, Later joining with the largest Selenge River.
Chuluut River flows through a wide rocky canyon that was made up of basalt from lava of extinct volcanoes including Horgo. It provides perfect streams for white water rafting and excellent spots for fly-fishing.