Erdene Zuu monastery + Kharkhorin
Saturday 2nd July
It was raining lightly and we didn't really stop on our way to Erdene Zuu.
Erdene Zuu is the "head monastery" of Mongolia. It's a huge compound —
a square nearly half a kilometre a side, surrounded by a wall topped
with stupas — but it's now mostly empty, with only a few scattered
temples remaining. Most were destroyed in 1937.
It was an overcast and gloomy day, not so good for photography.
We looked at three buildings, in one of which monks were praying and
eating — and in one case answering a mobile phone.
a dog watches over
the remains of old Kharkhorin
Having visited the monastery, we didn't stop to look at the modern town
of Kharkhorin, but drove off to see a "phallic rock". This is just a
half metre long stone penis — accompanied by vendors with tables of
souvenirs, wrapped up against the drizzle in plastic which was whipped
off when we arrived. The slope behind the rock, where there's a crease
in the ground decorated with some low vegetation, is apparently known as
More appealing was a stone turtle which is one of the surviving
cornerstones of the old city of Kharkhorin — again, with tables of
is often confused with the
"Karakorum" (the mountains and highway between Pakistan and China
it is actually pronounced "Harhorin" and its etymology is disputed.
It was pretty much the "capital of the world" from 1220 until 1260, when
Kublai Khan moved the Mongol capital to Beijing, and was the Xanadu in
Coleridge's famous poem.
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