Our next stop was the Kharakhorum Valley, which was the location of the Mongolian capital for about 40 years, when Ogedei, son of Genghis, was Great Khan – this was about 1240 AD.
|The Temples at Erdene Zuu|
Due to its favorable weather, the proximity of the Orhan River which runs all year, and abundant grazing lands, it has been a significant site of many cultures beginning about 200 BC. We stayed in a ger camp there for two nights, as there were several places to visit: Erdene Zuu, a Buddhist temple complex from the 1600’s and an old Turkic site, Shankh Hiid Monastery, from before that time.
Erdene Zuu was particularly magical.
|The Monastery at Erdene Zuu|
|Part of the wall surrounding the|
|The Gates of Erdene Zuu|
Back at the ger camp, we were treated to another performance on the horse head fiddle, the most highly-revered traditional Mongolian instrument, as a small local group stopped by with native instruments and costumes, and shared some traditional Mongolian music. This visit followed on a meeting in UB with the lead player of the Mongolia Folk Orchestra where we got a very close visit with a horse fiddle. A fretless two stringed cello like instrument that is bowed like a cello but fretted with knuckles beneath the string. Quite a challenging instrument to play given the sounds it produces -- conjuring the music of the horses running across the sea of grass.
|The Horse Fiddle Master|
|The Ger along the River Orhon at dawn|