Ulgii is located high in the Mongolian Altai mountains near the border with Russia and China. This is the land of the highest peaks of Mongolia, glaciers and untouched nature. Mostly from the city of Ulgii, long hiking trails go through the AltaiTavanbogd National Park, the Silkkhemiin-Nuru Reserve and the Tsambagrav-Ul National Park. All these protected areas are designed to protect mountain forests, the argali, ibex, red deer, elk, stone martens, snowcocks and golden eagles living in them, as well as vast glaciers.
The city of Kharkhorin is located in the valley of the Orkhon River, 380 km southwest of Ulaanbaatar. In its vicinity are the famous ruins of the ancient Karakorum – the capital of the Mongol Empire of the 13th century. Karakorum was founded in 1220 by Genghis Khan and completed by his son Ogedei. The city stood on the northern branch of the Great Silk Road and was one of its most important posts. In 1264, Khan Kublai moved the capital of Mongolia to Khanbalik (now Beijing), from that moment the decline of Karakorum began.
To this day, Karakorum’s walls, 400×400 m in size, have been perfectly preserved, which limit the archaeological zone. In 1580, the remains of the Karakorum were used by lamaists to build a monastery. Erdene-Zu (“Hundred Treasures”). It was the first Buddhist monastery of the Mongol Empire and one of the largest medieval Buddhist monasteries in the world. By 1792, the monastery consisted of 62 temples, about 10,000 monks lived here. At that time, 108 Buddhist stupas were installed on the surviving walls of the Karakorum, which can be seen to this day. Of the 17 temples of the Erdene-Zu monastery, only one – Lavran – is active, the rest are under the jurisdiction of the Historical Museum of Ulaanbaatar. The gilded statue of the great Buddhist saint Padmasambhava of the 17th century, fragments of paintings and sculptures are interesting in the monastery. To the north of the archaeological zone, a stone sculpture of the ancient Karakorum, made in the form of a huge turtle, has been preserved.
Also in the vicinity of Kharkhorin it is worth visiting the banks of the Chultyn-Gol River, where rock paintings of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages were discovered, and the hot mineral springs Khudzhirt.
According to Smber.com, the city of Khovd is located in the western part of Mongolia on the eastern slopes of the Mongolian Altai. Its history goes back about 250 years. It was here that members of the Chinese Qing dynasty hid after the Mongol revolution. The city is interesting for the ruins of the fortress, where members of the Qing dynasty lived until 1919, and the Khovd Museum, which presents national costumes, archaeological finds, Buddhist relics, statues and ancient manuscripts.
6 km south of the city is Mount Batar-Khairkhan, on which ancient petroglyphs left by the nomadic tribes of the Huns were discovered. Not far from the city, there is also an interesting place called Tsenkerin-Agui, where rock paintings made in ocher were found in a cave. It is believed that the drawings were painted on the walls of the cave about 15,000 years ago.
To the northeast of Khovd are the lakes Khara-Us-Nur, Khara-Nur and Dorgon-Nur. On their banks, in 1997, the Khara-Us-Nur National Park with an area of 850,000 hectares was created. Most of the park’s territory is occupied by wetlands, among which are the most extensive reed thickets of Central Asia. This is a great place for bird watching. Black-throated loons, arctic loons, red-nosed pochards, dry-billed ducks, white-headed ducks, white-tailed eagle, Dalmatian pelican, great cormorant, great sand plover and egrets live in these places.