Northern Mongolia - The Land of Sky Worshippers
In Mongolia each direction represents different landscapes: Deserts in the south, soaring mountains in the west and grasslands of the east. The North is home to Siberian Taiga. The culture here is quite different than rest of the country. People’s houses take different shapes, they lean more towards shamanism and their reindeer are their best friends. Let’s peek into this mystical part of Mongolia.
One of the most famous monasteries of Mongolia, the Amarbayasgalant Monastery is located 360 kms of north of Ulaanbaatar. The Monastery was a great source of Dharma teaching and accomplishment with over six thousand novices and ordained monks. The complex of Amarbayasgalant Monastery was built during 1727-1736, in the honor of Undur Gegeen Zanabazar, the first Bogd (religious Leader) of Mongolia. The valley is well-watered by the Iven River and has long been renowned for its rich vegetation in this arid part of the Central Asia, making it symbolic of fertility and prosperity in the Mongolian culture.
URAN TOGOO VOLCANO
An extinct volcano standing tall for over 25,000 years is resembles a trivet. It also hosts a lake at the center of its crater and the fertile soil around has helped forests of larch, aspen, poplar and birch grow abundant. Legend has it, the food coming from south side of the volcano is tasty because god dropped holy water there; and fermented mare’s milk (Airag) from the front of mountain is delicious because of God was kind enough to drop milk over.
REINDEER HERDERS AND TAIGA
The Tsaatan Tribe or easier – Reindeer People inhabit the north west regions of Khuvsgul Lake. Why Reindeers? The mountains are 3000 meters above the sea level; region has rocks thick grown forests. Herding places are rare and summer is short. However, reindeers and yaks are suitable in the part of the land. Its quite interesting interacting with the Tsaatan – observing their shaman beliefs, livestocks and sharing a typical meal foraged from the forests around.
Transparent in some places, midnight blue in others, tropical aquamarine in stretches, yet frozen for much of the year, Khövsgöl Nuur (Lake Khuvsgul) is an extraordinary natural wonder in a country with no shortage of physical beauty. As with its larger sibling across the border, Siberia's Lake Baikal, superlatives don't really do this immense, mountain-fringed lake justice. The Khuvsgul Lake with its moody waters, surrounded by silent, eerie groves of pine-fresh taiga is called “Mother Sea” by Mongolians. The lake is 2 million yrs old and Mongolia’s largest as well as deepest fresh water lake. The lake truly comes alive in the winter during Ice Festival!
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