Burkhan Khaldun Khora | 2003

Inspired by the khora, or circumambulation, of Mt Kailash in Tibet which I made in the Year of the Horse 2002 I decided to do a khora of Burkhan Khaldun (Khentii Khaan Uul), the mountain in Khentii Aimag worshipped by Chingis Khan and now perhaps the most important site of the present-day Chingis Cult. I walked around Mt. Kailash, a distance of some thirty miles, in two and a half days, but since walking is not a traditional mode of transport in Mongolia I did the Burkhan Khaldun Khora by horseback. From our starting point on the Terelj River (a tributary of the Kherlen, not to be confused with the better known Terelj River north of Ulaan Baatar) we rode a total of 109 miles. Since this included backtracking down the Kherlen River the actual distance around the mountain, by the route we took, was probably about 80 miles. This we did in six and a half days, including one rest day at Onon Hot Springs. The route we followed was up the west bank off the Kherlen to Shirengetei Gol, then up the Shirengetei valley and over Baga Davaa to the Iluur River, then over Ikh Davaa to the Onon River. (This is the same route as described in my book Travels in Northern Mongolia.) After a stay at Onon Hot Springs we headed due north up the valley of an unnamed creek and crossed Ikh Gazriyn Davaa just east of Burkhan Khaldun and then dropped down to the Bogdiyn Gol. After a night at the base of Burkhan Khaldun we continued down the Bogdiyn to the Kherlen, and then down the Kherlen to the Terelj Gol. Since I have already been to the summit of Burkhan Khaldun twice we did not climb the mountain. For photos of the route to the summit see Ascending Burkhan Khaldun.

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Entering Chingis Khan Country in the Kherlen Valley near the town of Mongonmort


The place called Muddy Banks on the Kherlen. It was near here that some scholars believe Chingis Khan was camped when the Merkits came and kidnapped his wife Borte.


View of the Upper Kherlen Valley


Erdene Uul, one of the other mountains known as Burkhan Khaldun. It was probably on this mountain that Chingis Khan hid from the Merkits who were trying to capture him after they kidnapped his wife.


The track to Baga Davaa. Locals claim that this originated as a cart track used by Zanabazar, the first Bogd Gegen of Mongolia, when he visited the Onon Hot Springs.



The Onon Hot Springs in the Upper Onon Valley


The Onon Hot Springs


Cabins built over the hot springs. The two hot springs on the left were named Ikh Tsenkher and Baga Tsenkher by Zanabazar, the first Bogd Gegen of Mongolia.




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