Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Zayain Khüree.



W
e arrived into Tsetserleg, the provincial capital of Arkhangai, just after lunch. Finally, a town that I can actually point to on the map! Woohoo! :-)



































Map or no map, Adam had to check his GPS thingy to get our coordinates....something he did pretty every place we went to. Wonder what that thing told him :-)



















Not a booming metropolis by any standards, there's not much to see and do in Tsetserleg except for Zayain Khüree, which was once a monastery but is now a museum.

Our drivers deposited outside the Fairfield Cafe, Bakery and Guesthouse which we would return to later on in the afternoon for refreshments. Puji and Adam went their way so the group was left on its own to figure out how to get to the museum.










Tsetserleg is not a big town so the museum was not hard to find.


Along the way, we passed a school. The tile mosaic on the side of the building was a reminder of the Soviet influence on Mongolia.













A huge granite massif known as Bulgan Uul provides backdrop to Tsetserleg. The massif has nine different parts, each named after one of the nnne precious Stones and metals; gold, silver, bronze, pearl, coral, turquoise, brass, copper, and lapis lazuli. The northernmost peak as known as Altan (gold) Bulgan Uul. It was at the base of Altan Bulgan Uul that in 1641, a rich local herdsman named Dugar constructed a temple for a lama named Sandui. This temple was the foundation of what eventually became Zayain Khüree.


We found our way to the entrance and each of us paid the 3500 tugrik entrance fee.




As we entered the monastery grounds, the first building I saw was the Guden Süm which was the first temple built back in 1641. The architecture is very much a mixture of Chinese and Tibetan.





































The Guden Süm is flanked by two smaller temples. The Right, or Summer Semchin Temple, was reportedly built in 1684, and houses the museum. The Left, or Winter Semchin Temple was built shortly thereafter.




Before I headed in to see the museum, I took a few minutes to wander the grounds and admire the art and architecture of the monastery. Buddhist art objects decorated the buildings and the grounds.




























































































































There was little to see inside the museum....some artifacts of life in these parts of Mongolia. A short visit in and I was out.

When we were walking towards Zayain Khüree from Tsetserleg town center, we noticed another temple built high up on the hill behind the monastery. That was my next destination, along with several of my tour mates.

Behind the monastery we went.






As we neared the newer temple complex, we were greeted by this sign. I wonder if I'll come back down the stairs a more enlightened being :-)






The steps leading to the temple at the top were lined with the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. Of course, I had to take a picture of the pig....which is my sign.







Part way up to the temple, there were two small gazebo type structures. In one hung a fish and in the other, a bell.











































It didn't take long to get to the top. There stood a very small, modest temple, a stupa and a statue of Bhudda.










We couldn't go into the temple and without that, there wasn't much else to do but enjoy the view of the town below. Soon, it was time to head back and so we all walked back to town. First thing on the agenda was to go to a local supermarket and pick up more munchies. Then, it was back to the Fairfield Cafe, Bakery and Guesthouse....I was hoping they would have tea and something sweet to eat and they did! Before we knew it, it was time to get back into the vans and make our way down the road. Next stop would be our ger camp near the hotsprings.