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Orkhon river. Mongolian river. River in Mongolia. Orxon river. Orhon river.




Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape. Date of Inscription: 2004. Core zone: 7537 ha. Buffer zone: 143867 ha. N47 33 24 E102 49 53. Ref: 1081rev

The 121,967-ha Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape encompasses an extensive area of pastureland on both banks of the Orkhon River and includes numerous archaeological remains dating back to the 6th century. The site also includes Kharkhorum, the 13th- and 14th-century capital of Chingis (Genghis) Khans vast Empire. Collectively the remains in the site reflect the symbiotic links between nomadic, pastoral societies and their administrative and religious centres, and the importance of the Orkhon valley in the history of central Asia. The grassland is still grazed by Mongolian nomadic pastoralists.

Criterion (ii): The Orkhon valley clearly demonstrates how a strong and persistent nomadic culture, led to the development of extensive trade networks and the creation of large administrative, commercial, military and religious centres. The empires that these urban centres supported undoubtedly influenced societies across Asia and into Europe and in turn absorbed influence from both east and west in a true interchange of human values.

Criterion (iii): Underpinning all the development within the Orkhon valley for the past two millennia has been a strong culture of nomadic pastoralism. This culture is still a revered and indeed central part of Mongolian society and is highly respected as a noble way to live in harmony with the landscape.

Criterion (iv): The Orkhon valley is an outstanding example of a valley that illustrates several significant stages in human history. First and foremost it was the centre of the Mongolian Empire; secondly it reflects a particular Mongolian variation of Turkish power; thirdly, the Tuvkhun hermitage monastery was the setting for the development of a Mongolian form of Buddhism; and fourthly, Khar Balgas, reflects the Uighur urban culture in the capital of the Uighur Empire.


  • Khujirt. South of Erdene Zuu, Khujirt is a small, soporific town noted for its mineral hot springs and health resort. There's not much else to see here, except for the tiny Gandan Piljeling Khiid, which has a contingent of 15 part-time monks. Most travellers pass through the town en route to the waterfall Orkhon Khiirkhree. There are some interesting grave sites worth looking out for a couple of kilometres out of town on the road to Kharkhorin.
    The road between Kharkhorin and Khujirt (a bumpy 54km) is one of the best places in the country to see falcons and hawks, particularly the saraa (moon) hawk. If you are ever likely to get a photo of one of these birds, this is the place.
  • Orkhon waterfall (Orkhon Khiirkhree). Apart from the springs at Khujirt, the main attraction in the area is the Orkhon waterfall (GPS: N46 47.234', E101 57.694'). The waterfall is situated in the historically significant Orkhon Valley, whose river flows an incredible 1120km to the North before it joins the mighty Selenge Gol. Also called Ulaan Tsutgalan, the waterfall was formed by a unique combination of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes about 20,000 years ago. The fall is naturally most impressive after heavy rain. (Photo album. Orkhon waterfall.)
  • Tovkhon Sum. High in the mountains marking the north side of the Orkhon Valley lie the ruins of this ancient temple and retreat. Zanabazar founded the site in 1653 and lived, worked and meditated here for 30 years. Several pilgrimage sites have grown up around the temple and hermit's caves, including one that is said to be Zanabazar's boot imprint.
  • Naiman Nuur. Also worth visiting if you have a jeep is the area known as Naiman Nuur (Eight Lakes), which was created by volcanic eruptions centuries ago and is now part of the 11,500 hectare Khuisiin Naiman Nuur Natural Reserve. The lakes are 70km south-west of the Orkhon waterfall, but the roads are often virtually impassable.
  • Orkhon river. One of the largest rivers of Mongolia. Originated in Arkhangai aimag, it passes through the north-west part of Uvurkhangai aimag, and then flows through the eastern part of Arkhangai aimag, Bulgan aimag, Selenge aimag and emptying into Orkhon river near the Sukhbaatar. The largest tributaries are Tamir and Tuul rivers.
  • Khar Balgas. The ruined citadel of Khar Balgas (Kara Balgasun in Turkic) is in Khotont sum Arkhangai aimag on the banks of the Orkhon Gol. The city was founded in AD 751 as the capital of the Uighur khanate, which ruled Mongolia from 745-854.
    There's not much to see except the outer walls (with gates in the North and South), a Buddhist stupa and the ruler's kagan, or castle, in the south-west corner. From the walls you can see the rows of stupas on either side of the walls and the remains of irrigated fields in the surrounding countryside.
  • Kultegin Monument. When Chinggis Khaan decided to move his capital to Kharakhorum, he was well aware that the region had already been capital to successive nomad empires. About 20km north-east of Khar Balgas (as the crow flies) lies the remainder of yet another of these pre-Mongol empires, the Turkic khaganate. All that's left of the khaganate is the 3m-high inscribed monument of Kultegin (684-731), the khagan (ruler) himself. The monument was raised in AD 732 and is inscribed in Runic and Chinese script. You can see a copy of the stele in the entrance of the National Museum of Mongolian History.
    Just over 1km away is another monument to Bilge Khagan (683-734), younger brother of Kultegin. Ten years after the death of Bilge the Turkic khaganate was overrun by the Uighurs.
  • The Temeen Chuluu monument, which dates back to the Bronze Age, features over 40 ancient square tombs and five deer stone statues. An intriguing detail on the stone of one square tomb is the depiction of 13 people standing hand in hand.
Photo. Orkhon river.

Photo. Orkhon river.

Photo. Orkhon river.

Photo. Orkhon river.

Photo. Orkhon river.

Photo. Orkhon river.

Orkhon river.

Photo. Orkhon river.



- Uvurkhangai aimag.

- Uvurkhangai aimag map.

- Arvaikheer.

- Kharkhorin (Mongolian: ).

- Erdene Zuu monastery.

- Karakorum.
 The ruins of the ancient capital of Mongolia.

- Kharakhorum Museum.

- Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape.

- Orkhon river.

- Orkhon Waterfall (Ulaan Tsutgalan).

- Deer stone monuments and square
 graves of Temeen Chuluu.

- Tuvkhun monastery.

- Shankh Monastery.

- Arvaikheer. Pages of the pictures album.


- Regins of Mongolia

- Mongolian citis

- General map of Mongolia

- Administrative map of Mongolia



- Ulaanbaatar 



- Darkhan uul

- Govi-Sumber

- Orkhon 



- Tuv Aimag

- Uvurkhangai Aimag

- Arkhangai Aimag 



- Khuvsgul Aimag

- Bulgan Aimag

- Selenge Aimag 



- Khentii Aimag

- Dornod Aimag

- Sukhbaatar Aimag 



- Bayan-Ulgii Aimag

- Khovd Aimag

- Uvs Aimag

- Zavkhan Aimag 



- Dundgovi Aimag

- Umnugovi Aimag

- Dornogovi Aimag

- Bayan-Khongor Aimag

- Gobi-Altai Aimag




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