GER to GER GEOtourism Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar City Tours and Attractions

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Ulaanbaatar City Tours (Mongolia), Homestays and Sightseeing Attractions

Ulaanbaatar City is the capital of Mongolia. Geographically, Ulaanbaatar city sits on the banks of River Tuul and in a valley between four mountains. According to the 2016 census, Ulaanbaatar City has 9 districts spread over 470,000 acres of land and 1,440,447 people, with 67 percent being under the age of 35.

Ulaanbaatar City originated in 1639 as a ger palace gifted to Zanabazar, when he was proclaimed as the First Bogd Khan. Following the nomadic ways, the city moved throughout the country 28 times before it grew too big to move in 1855 and settled in its current location. In the early days of Ulaanbaatar City’s history, it served as the political and religious center for Mongolia. 

By the 19th century, the once palace had turned into a proper city with religion, government, politics and trade with a population of twenty-thousand people. In 1924, the modern foundation of Ulaanbaatar City was divided into 13 districts, 4 of which were revamped into new districts in 1965, 5 were abolished and the youngest district was instated in 1992 when Ulaanbaatar City was declared the capital of Mongolia once again.

Ulaanbaatar City Tours – Choijin Lama Temple Museum 

Ulaanbaatar City Tours, Homestays and City Travel Information – Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar City is home to “Choijin Lama Temple” that is considered to be one of the most beautiful monasteries throughout Mongolia.  The 8th Bogd Jibzandamba had the monastery built for his brother in Ulaanbaatar, The State Oracle, Luvsankhaidav, in 1904 and its construction finished in 1908. Luvsankhaidav was commonly known as Choijin Lama, hence the name Choijin Lama Temple. The name Choijin meant “fierce defender of Buddhism”. 

This monastery was forced to close down in 1937 during the rise of the communist regime in Ulaanbaatar. However, it received state protection in 1939 and was eventually turned into a religious museum in 1942. The museum now consists of 5 temples: Zankhan, Zuugyn, Yadam, Enkh-Amgalangyn and the main temples. The main temple houses sculptures of Buddha and his two disciples, the keeper of the monastery Choijin Lama, the mummified remains of Choijin lama’s teacher and a 30 kilogram ritual mask made out of 7000 red coral beads. It also keeps gilded sculptures of gods, invaluable religious paintings, musical instruments and regalia worn for sermons all made by 19th century artisans using materials such as wood, ivory and human bones. 

The Zankhan Temple features Bogd Khan’s throne, which Choijin lama would visit once every moon to seek the gods’ answers pertaining to state matters. By its west walls, one can find 2 meter tall sculptures depicting the guardian gods of Buddhism, while tapestries depicting hell hangs from the ceiling, implying that those who do wrong end up in there. 

The Zuugyn Temple originally dedicated to Buddha, features Buddha’s three identities from the past, present and future. Before them lays an offering table with the seven gems of State surrounded by the sixteen Netans (individual tankas that stand for human behaviors) meditating while two of the guardian gods remain vigilant by the gates. A sanctum for holy prayers and the secret enchantments, the Yadam temple. It was reserved for Choijin Lama’s meditations and only his – the temple holds all gods dedicated to peace and synergy, with Choijin Lama’s main totem in the middle. 

The Enkh-Amgalangyn Temple was dedicated to the first Bogd Zanabazar. Inside you will find Bogd Zanabazar’s self-portrait, Buddha with his “16 Netans”. It is plenty with crafts from the first Bogd himself, his disciples and works of craftsmen from Tibet, China, India and Japan. 

GER to GER GEOtourism Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar City Tours and Attractions
GER to GER GEOtourism Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar City Tours and Attractions

Ulaanbaatar City Tours – National Museum of Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar City Tours, Homestays and City Travel Information – Mongolia

The origins of Ulaanbaatar City’s National Museum of Mongolia date back to 1924, when it was established to present Mongolia’s culture and natural resources to the public. The museum was renamed to be “State Central Museum” in 1941. In 1956, the museum moved into a new building in Ulaanbaatar City, which would later go on to become the Natural History Museum and eventually be demolished. In 1991 it overtook the Museum of the Revolution alongside its artifacts and building, which was built in 1971. In 2008, the museum saw another name change “the National Museum of Mongolia”. By then it had about fifty thousand artifacts in 9 halls, which made up about 30 percent of all artifacts of all Mongolian museums. The halls are classified by Mongolia’s historic periods – Stone Age, Ancient Empires, Chingis Khan’s Great empire to current Mongolia. The first hall takes us back to the Prehistoric Age, with tools and weapons, cave paintings, Deer stones, bronze weapons and armor found from ancient burial mounds from different stages of the Stone Age Next comes the Ancient Empires chamber that features artifacts from all the empires that existed on these lands before the Great Mongolian empire. The list includes jewelry, rune stones, human stones and weapons, traditional clothes and accessories worn by all the different ethnic groups of Mongolia used hundreds of years ago. Then comes the Great Mongolia hall – home to rune stones depicting Chingis Khan and his descendants exploits, the seal of Great Mongolia found in the Vatican Secret Archives with the empires internal and foreign affairs letters and much more. The Manchurian Era Hall shows Mongolia’s struggle against the Qing Dynasty’s oppression. It has everyday household items from the clocks to family trees, the standard and weapons used by Chingunjav’s soldiers to fight the Manchurians, and even the torture devices used by the Qing dynasty to interrogate and punish the dissenters. The Traditional Culture and Lifestyle Hall immerses visitors into tunes from the 17th century with various instruments. The hall also displays everyday items such as hunting equipment, smithing tools, sewing kits, utensils, scrolls on medicine and more. The Bogd Khan Era, Socialist Era and Democratic Era Halls show us the development of Mongolia’s history during each era through state documents, photographs, everyday items and other items used by historically significant people.

Ulaanbaatar City Tours – Bogd Khan Palace

Ulaanbaatar City Tours, Homestays and City Travel Information – Mongolia

This palace complex was built between 1893 and 1903 for the 8th Bogd Javzandamba within today’s Ulaanbaatar City, the Theocratic Ruler of Mongolia. It served as a temple and Bogd Khan’s winter residence. The 8th Bogd Javzandamba was born in Lhasa in 1869 and was proclaimed the 8th Bogd Javzandamba in 1871. He arrived and was enthroned on the Bogd Gegeen’s throne in Khalkha Mongolia in 1874. From 1911 – 1919, the 8th Bogd Javzandamba was proclaimed the “Sunlit and Eternal” Theocratic King of Mongolia and served as the country’s constitutional monarch from 1921 to 1924, after the People’s Revolution. The Bogd Khan succumbed to illness and passed away at the age of 55 in the fall of 1924. 

The palace complex was turned into an Ulaanbaatar Museum in 1926 in accordance with orders from the Central Committee of the People’s Party and the Government. In April 1, 1926, historical, cultural, rare and unique personal effects and belongings of the Bogd Khan were transferred to the museum. Currently the Bogd Khaan Palace Museum comprises of two parts, the 7 “Wisdom and Glorifying” Summer Temples and the Winter Palace.  

The Winter Palace is a two-story European design building and the 7 Summer Temples are comprised of the following: The Maharajas Temple, Temple of Thangkas, Temple of Appliqués, Temple of Many Deities, the Library Temple, and the Labrang Temple. 

The Makhranzyn Temple was built in 1903, housing four Makhranz god-kings protecting the four continents. These figures are the biggest made using this specific paper manipulation technique. 

The Ravsa  from its tall ceiling hangs a bell to the left and a drum to the right. The Bogd Khan rang the bells for the gods up above the sky and beat the drum for the gods of the lands and waters. 

The Torgon Zurgyn Temple was used by the Bogd Khan for reading. The temple holds silk paintings and layered imaginations of the god of wealth Gongor, god of success Tsambagarav, guardian of buddhism Jamsran, founder of the Yellow Hat Sect Bogd Zonkhov and more made by renowned painters and skilled artisans of the time.  Additionally, it contained buddhist scrolls, which were moved to the National library in 1924.  

The Uran Zurgyn Temple has soil paintings of the wisdoms of the god Jigjid: “Гэгээний бодол”, “Сайн цагийн мянган бурхан”, Buddha’s biographies “Будда бурханы амьдрал”, “Будда болон найман бодь суварга” and paintings of the god of age Ayush. 

Inside the Naidan/Netan Temple 16 monks painted the 8th Bogd Khan’s picture for 3 days for his birthday. You can also find the whip, that was used to make way for the 8th Bogd through crowds of worshippers who wished to get his blessing, a gilded and jeweled shelf, the scarf he used to bless people with, a sandalwood incense tray and gilded sculptures of gods inside.  The Burkhany Temple contains gilded sculptures of a 14th century Tibetian Buddhist leader Banchin Bogd and other gods, as well as a portrait of the god Tsogdogmarav. 

The Lavrin Temple saw to the 8th Bogd’s prayers. Inside, you will find 21Taras, crafted by the 1st Bogd himself, a portrait of the Green Tara, and a portrayal of who is said to be the previous incarnation of the 1st Bogd, Jibzundarnat. 

The Bogd Khan’s Winter Palace is a two story building built in 1903 following designs made by architects from the Russian Empire. The palace now turned museum features artifacts used by the Bogd and his Queen. 

The list starts on the second floor with the queen’s attire and accessories made out of rare silks, metals and gems as well as ritual items used by the Bogd are also on display. Those items include a costume with ivory ornaments, his silver tools meant to fight evil and other garbs sewn with gold. The palace also features the Bogd’s seal alongside his throne and regalia.  

This exhibition continues into his bedroom with his ebony bed adorn with silks and jewels, a pair of musical chairs gifted by the Russian Tsar as well as other household items turned fancy. Moving downstairs,  you will spot some big bowls, used to punish those who came late to the Bogd’s feasts by forcing to drink fermented mare’s milk out of them. 

Finally we come across his animal exhibit, started in 1901, featuring taxidermies from all around the world; the Bogd kept parrots, monkeys, donkeys and an elephant, a gift from Mongolian noblemen. You may come across an unusual Ger. It was made using the pelts of 150 leopards, instead of the traditional felts used by nomads. 

GER to GER GEOtourism Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar City Tours and Attractions
GER to GER GEOtourism Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar City Tours and Attractions

Ulaanbaatar City Tours – Gandan Monastery

Ulaanbaatar City Tours, Homestays and City Travel Information – Mongolia>

This Ulaanbaatar monastery first started out as a little temple in 1809 that later expanded with a couple of smaller temples before receiving a major upgrade in 1838 when 3 temples dedicated to the 5th Bogd was built. From that time forward, the foundation for what is now the Ulaanbaatar City’s Gandan Monastery with 6 temples has been established.

Janraisig Temple is definitively Ulaanbaatar’s Crown Jewel, which also appeared on The Amazing Race Australia (2019), and is what most people think of when you mention Gandan Monastery. This 30 meter tall temple was built in 1911 and holds the second iteration of the 26 meter Megjidjanraisag statue. The original, built for the 8th Bogd, was taken down and shipped to Soviet Russia for manufacturing weapons in 1938. The temple remained empty until 1990 when the construction of the current statue was commenced thanks to donations from worshippers. 

The statue’s body was made out of 19 tonnes of gilded copper, filled with jewels from around Mongolia, holy waters, samples of the finest crops, literature, documents of Mongolian history and religious scrolls; with the scrolls alone weighing 17 tonnes. The head was decorated with 304 gems of 21 types from 21 provinces and the crown embedded with 2286 stones.  

The main temple of Ulaanbaatar’s Gandan Monastery was crafted by talented artisans at the order of the fifth Bogd. Today this main temple houses sculptures made by the first Bogd Zanabazar, 108 chapters of Ganjuur from the 19th century written with gold on black paper, a sculpture of Buddha made for his 2500th birthday in 1956, a two-thousand-year old solid figurine of Buddha gifted by president Jawaharlal Nehru of India and more cultural works; its library alone holds around fifty thousand books and scrolls. 

The monastery vicinity holds 4 other temples arranged into a grid north of the main temple. The South-East temple “Dashchoinpel” follows the 5 studies of Tibetan philosopher Gunchen Jamyanshaduv and it was built in 1736 at a place called “Doloonnuur” in Inner-Mongolia. The South-West temple was built in 1809 to study Buddhist philosophy and to the North-West the temple “Dechingalav” is used to study the book “Tsagyn hurden” when it was formed in 1801. Lastly, the North-East temple “Idgaachoinzinlin” studies the 5 books on Buddhism of Tibetan philosopher Serjevzunba Choijiljamtsan. 

Today, this Ulaanbaatar monastery has a pillar called the “Wish Tree” – it was one of the four pillars of the first temple, Gungaachoilin, that used to be; people believe it to be magical since it survived the burning of the monastery during the soviet regime. 

Ulaanbaatar City Tours – Sukhbaatar Square 

Ulaanbaatar City Tours, Homestays and City Travel Information – Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar City’s Sukhbaatar Square, located right at the center of Ulaanbaatar City and is the main location of Mongolia’s national ceremonies and celebrations for the public. Ulaanbaatar’s main square was built for General Sukhbaatar after he passed in 1923 – the exact location where his returning troops celebrated victory after defeating the Chinese at Khiagt. Since then, Ulaanbaatar’s main square is now adorned with the General’s statue build in 1946 in time for the 25th anniversary of the national revolution. The four-meter-tall statue of the general sits atop an eight-meter high base, with fourteen lions holding thick chains together, surrounding it, symbolizing the sanctity of Mongolia. The statue was renewed with a bronze replacement in 2011 for the 90th anniversary of the national revolution. The statue also has a plaque with the General’s quote saying that it’s in our hearts to unite and reach places that man has never reached before.  

GER to GER - Ulaanbaatar City Tours, Ulaanbaatar, City, Tours
GER to GER GEOtourism Mongolia - Ulaanbaatar City Tours and Attractions

Ulaanbaatar City Tours – Zanabazar Museum

Ulaanbaatar City Tours, Homestays and City Travel Information – Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar City’s Zanabazar Museum is a cultural gem with over 620 unique and invaluable artworks registered with the treasury; 50 of them are held at Zanabazar museum. The Fine Arts G. Zanabazar Museum was founded in 1966 and is renowned for his works (1635-1724) which include the statues of Sita Tara, the Five Dhayani Buddhas and the Bodhi Stupa. It has 12 exhibition galleries covering the arts from ancient civilizations up to the beginning of the 20th Century. Initially opened with over 300 exhibits, the Museum rapidly enriched the number of its objects, with the modern arts becoming a separate division in 1989 as an Arts Gallery.

The Museum displays the artistic works of Mongolian masters of the 18-20th Centuries, coral masks, tankas, as well as the famous paintings of B. Sharav entitled “A Day in Mongolia” and “Airag feast”; the Museum contains 13000 objects. The exhibition hall regularly hosts the works of contemporary artists and the G. Zanabazar Museum has been successfully cooperating with UNESCO for the improvement of the preservation of priceless exhibits and for the training of the Museum staff.

Within the museum you’ll find the ancient artifacts chamber that holds a sword from the Bronze Age with fancy engravings, the only one of its kind in Asia, Human Stones from the Tureg era (VI-VII century), and vases from the Hun era. The chamber also holds replicas of the following: the murals found at Erdenezuu Monastery, Stone Age petroglyphs and deer stones found in Mongolia.

The Zanabazar Creations chamber holds all things Zanabazar. From the alphabet he invented, Soyombo, to his self-portraits, his students’ portrait of him, and his mother’s painting. You will also find gilded copper sculptures of Buddhist gods such as the Five Dhayani, Sita Tara, Bodhi Stupa and Manzushir. 

The Thangka gallery contains tankas and soil paintings of Buddhist deities made in the 19th century. 

 The Appliqués gallery exhibits early 20th century canvas and fabric works from numerous artists. One of the highlights is a 15 by 2.5 meter appliqué depicting 35 guardians of heaven.

The Tsam ceremony hall displays authentic Tsam dancing masks and equipment. Buddhists consider the dance to be that of the gods, hence the need for the masks to be accurate. To craft the masks special paper is droused in glue and shaped around a wooden mold until it takes form. The masks, depending on size, can weigh around 5 to 7 kilograms, while the rest of the equipment weighs up to 30 kilograms. The garbs are decorated with various materials such as ivory, gems and precious metals.

Maidar is the future manifestation of Buddha. For his ceremony, the deity is placed on a carriage, drawn by a green horse and marched West to East by monks. This hall is dedicated to Maidar and hopes of him returning to bring peace upon a world in turmoil; it exhibits Maidar’s carriage, tankas, sculptures and “Khuree Maidar” painting.

As mentioned, the museum holds tens of priceless art works recognized by the treasury. Some of them are available to the public.

“Ekh Khandjamts” was deemed ‘heritage’ by the state in 2002. This depiction of Queen Khandjamts was painted in the 17th century by Zanabazar on a 53 by 38 centimeter canvas.

“Duinkhoryn khot mandal” is an appliqué made by an artist from Ulaanbaatar, when it was known as Ikh Khuree in the 18th century. The artwork was deemed ‘heritage’ by the government in 1998 with its 2.8 meter appliqué depicts heaven from a birds eye view.

“Baldanlkham Ohin Tenger” is a tanka, sizing 139 by 119 centimeters, decorated with gold, silver, pearls and gems by an unknown early 19th century artist and was deemed ‘heritage’ in 1995.

“Urs gargaj baigaa ni” is an eccentric painting by the founder of Mongolian modern arts B. Sharav in 1912. It depicts Mongolia’s lifestyle in the late 19th century and deemed ‘heritage’ in 1995.

“G. Zanabazaryn Khurug” is a portrait of Zanabazar and considered on of the best heritage from Mongolia during the 17th century. The portrait depicts Zanabazar with a book his lap, mountains by his side, his teacher Demchiggarav with the deity of arts and Bogd Zonkhov with the Sita Tara; the painting was deemed heritage in 2002.