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Mongolia is a steppe country, which you never forget. It is the cold homeland of Genghis Khan Mongolia, where you can ride on a squat horse on the boundless steppes, visit the Gobi Desert and ascend to the Altai peaks, be amazed by the modernity of Ulaanbaatar, live in a yurt and become addicted to koumiss. However, there is more than one place to visit. One of them is the Kharkhorin.
The town of Kharkhorin is located in the valley of the Orkhon River, 380 km south-west of Ulaanbaatar. The population of Kharkhorin is around 12601 citizens, area -20.72 sq km. Kharkhorim is famous for it’s proximity to the ancient capital of the Mongolian empire, city Karakorum which was a capital of the Mongolian empire in the 13th century, it was found in 1220 by Genghis Khan and was 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, however, when the capital of Mongolia was transferred to Khanbalyk (now Beijing), there began the decline of the glorious Karakorum. Now there are only ruins which remind about marvellous past of this amazing city. Often these two names Kharkhorin and Karakorum are confused. You just need to understand that the modern city that grew up on the site of the ancient capital is called Kharkhorin. And the Karakorum is the ancient capital of Mongolia.
The best way of getting to Kharkhorin is by plane or by bus or car from Ulaanbaatar.
Kharkhorin Airport is equipped with only one unpaved runway. Earlier, he served scheduled flights to Ulaanbaatar, now the aircraft fly only a few days a week from July to September. 2-3 times a week there are buses from Ulaanbaatar. Travel time is 7 – 8 hours. You can rent a car and drive to Kharkhorin by yourself, the trip will take in 5-6 hours, first along the asphalt road towards Arvaiheera (315 km), then turn east toward Kharkhorin (75 km, asphalt).
Kharkhorin is a very small place, where you will not find many tourist attractions. Some of the best things to do , which are free and interesting at the same time are walking along ruins of the ancient Mongolian capital, take pictures and get closer to the glorious Mongolian past.
Also in the vicinity of Kharkhorin is worth visiting the banks of the Chultyn-Gol River: here you can find rock paintings of the Neolithic and Bronze Age. For health promotion one of the must do things is to visit the hot mineral springs of Khujirt.
Visiting one of the most unique and famous places– Erdeni-Dzu Monastery. The monastery Erdene-Zuu is one of the oldest monasteries of Mongolia that have survived until these days, it’s name could be translated as “Hundred Treasures”. The monastery was built in the 1580 and for its construction were used remains of the Karakorum walls. It was the first Buddhist monastery of the Mongolian Empire and one of the largest medieval Buddhist monasteries in the world.
Visit the local museum “Karakorum”, which is dedicated to the archaeological and cultural heritage of the city if you are interested in history it is one of the recommended places to go.
See and maybe touch the Kharkhorin Rock. It is a unique and unusual place which you might ever visit in your life.The last thing you would expect to see in the nearby of the monastery is a rock standing in a dusty Mongolian desert, surrounded by a fence, which by its form with no mistake reminds one important human organ. And it is not a heart. About this site, the locals tell with the greatest enthusiasm and knowledge of the matter. So-called Kharkhorin Rock is 20-30 minutes walk from the Erdene-Zuu. It lies just under the watch mountain of Genghis Khan. It is about a meter long and, believed, helps childless women to get pregnant. There are several legends associated with this monument.
The first legend says that for centuries, Kharkhorin Rock, ancient enough, attracted many women who came from afar, settling nearby and praying to him. It was believed (and is still considered!) That a childless woman, who has sat on this phallus and properly prayed, is given the opportunity to give birth. Some time ago (years one hundred or two hundred), the lamas from the neighbouring Datsun stole the Rock at night, split it into two parts and carried it to the steppe. The lamas did this so that women would come to pray not to the Kharkhorin Rock, but, as it should be, to the Temple. Locals sought out parts of it in the steppe, brought it back into place and carefully folded again. Even split, the Kharkhorin Rock does not lose its magic power: many women talk about its positive effect.
The second legend states that in ancient times, at the top of the mountain was a man’s monastery. However, at night the monks ran in turn to the nearby village for a date with the female sex. Having learned about this the abbot and created this monument in edification to the monks, pointing to the direction to the temple (With hard prayers you can tame your flesh …).
Find and see three Stone tortoises. According to legend, four stone tortoises were located in the corners of the ancient Karakorum. The tortoises originally had an inscribed stone column mounted vertically on their backs. Currently, there are three stone tortoises. One of the stone tortoises is located 300-400 meters from the monastery. The second (less famous) located on top of the mountain, practically opposite the Erdene Zou monastery. The tortoise is installed on the site where the monastery was located, the monks of which are involved in the aforementioned sights of the city. The third stone tortoise (almost unknown to nobody) is located on the road from Kharkhorin to the waterfall (if you go along Orkhon).
See the dam and spillway on the river Orkhon. Kharkhorin is probably the only city in Mongolia that has a ramified irrigation system, dam and floodgates on the Orkhon River, located on the south-western outskirts of the city.
There are mostly lots of solid souvenir shops around and , actually no any places to eat. It is worthy to take food with yourself or, if you prefer a higher class service, go to Ulaanbaatar.
Most museums and sights of Kharkhorin are charged for the right to take photographs – from 5 to 10 thousand Mongolian tugriks. Always have warm clothes with you and comfortable hiking shoes.
Though one very popular proverb states, that “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Being sure that during your trip through Venice’s water labyrinths or visiting best Gelato café in Florence you will not stay with only wind in your pocket gives more confidence. So, it is obvious that making small research on city you plan to visit prices and the trip cost and how much you might spend overall will not get worse for you and will not take too much time and even could be done for you by others. How much you will have to spend, depends on the local food and beverage service prices as well as the trip cost. As many tour agencies provide their clients with pretty various vacation deals, it is always 100% possibility that you shall find a trip by a good price which suits you the most.
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Professionally educated for sports and tourism management - is encouraging our guests to explore the Northeastern region of Europe in its most attractive way. Working for tourism industry since 2013 Iveta is assisting customers from 64 countries. And she loves doing it!