Showing posts with label Khovd Aimag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Khovd Aimag. Show all posts

Monday, June 15, 2020

Mongolia | Khovd Aimag | Baatar Khairkhan Uul

Baatar Khairkhan Uul  is a small mountain standing alone on the steppe 4.7 miles from downtown Khovd, just beyond the airport. It is clearly visible when you arrive in Khovd by airplane. Before 1912 Baatar Khairkhan Uul had two different names: Taliin Khairkhan Uul and Tsogt Khairkhan Uul. After 1912 the mountain was renamed Baatar Khairkhan Uul in honor of Magsarjav, one of the four military commanders during the attack on the Chinese Fortress in Khovd in 1912. After the city had been seized he was awarded the title of Khatan Baatar (warrior); hence Baatar Khairkhan Uul.
Baatar Khairkhan Uul stands alone on the steppe south of Khovd City
Baatar Khairkhan Uul 
Magsarjav, (1877-1927) was born in the banner of the Itgemjit Beis of Sain Noyon Khan Aimag. His father was a minor nobleman, but the family was not considered well-to-do.  Although thought to be a khuvilgaan, or incarnation of a minor Buddhist hierarch in western Mongolia, he apparently never considered a religious vocation. Magsarjav had been the Bogd Khan’s representative in Khovd City when Mongolian independence had been declared and had presented the Amban with the ultimatum to surrender the Khovd fortress and return to China. He had to sneak out of Khovd to avoid arrest after that affair and thus no doubt had own score to settle with the Amban. He appeared to have had little military experience, however, and one source calls him “an untried youth,” although he was thirty-five in 1912. 
On the north side of the mountain, visible from the airport, is a large depiction of the familiar Soyombo, the head symbol of the Soyombo alphabet designed by Zanabazar, the First Bogd Gegeen of Mongolia. This sign also occurs on the Mongolian flag, Mongolian currency, and innumerable other places. 
Soyombo Symbol on Baatar Khairkhan Uul
On the rocks at the base of the hill are what Professor Baasankhüü of Khovd, who accompanied me to the site, says are Bronze Age petroglyphs, including depictions of ibex, sheep, elk, deer, tigers or leopards, wolves, and, interestingly, a turtle. (He dates the Bronze Age to about 2000-5000 BP.) There are also Tibetan inscriptions from the seventeenth century, Sanskrit inscriptions, and  inscriptions in vertical script Mongolian, one of which says, “If you pray under this mountain you will be forgiven for the sins of 1000 years.” (According to the translation of the Professor, who reads vertical script Mongolian perfectly).
During the Siege of Khovd in 1912, Magsarjav camped near the mountain with his contingent of troops. He also maintained an observation post on the summit from which he could watch what was going on in Khovd. According to various accounts he also had monks perform chanting ceremonies on the summit of the hill to ensure the success of the upcoming battle.
It was at the base of Baatar Khairkhan Uul that Magsarjav performed the notorious "Blood Ceremony” in preparation for the attack on the Manchu Fortress in Khovd City. During the ceremony, which was meant to encourage the troops, a Chinese servant who had been captured in the city had his still-beating heart ripped from his chest. The Mongol war banners were then ceremoniously anointed with his blood. A man named Samand Baatar, who was one of Magsarjav’s soldiers, was an eyewitness to the ceremony. In 1970 he described the event in detail to Professor Baasankhüü of Khovd. It is widely believed that Dambijantsan, The Notorious Ja Lama, took part in the Blood Ceremony here at Baatar Khairkhan Uul. Samand Baatar maintained, however, that Dambijantsan was not present at Magsarjav’s ceremony, although he did reportedly perform his own Blood Ceremony at his camp on the Dund Tsenkher Gol near Mankhan.
Not until we had left Baatar Khairkhan Uul and were halfway back to Khovd did I realize I had forgotten to pray at the base of the hill.  
Bronze Age Petroglyphs
Bronze Age Petroglyphs and Vertical Script Mongolian inscriptions
Bronze Age Petroglyphs
Bronze Age Petroglyphs
Bronze Age Petroglyphs and Tibetan script
Bronze Age Petroglyphs


For more on Dambijantsan see False Lama of Mongolia: The Life and Death of Dambijantsan



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Mongolia | Khovd Aimag | Baitag Bogd Mountains

The Baitag Bogd Mountains, located in Khovd Aimag at the southwestern-most corner of the country, are probably one of the least visited places in Mongolia. Which is a shame, since the flanks of the mountains cradle gorgeous little oasis-like valleys which make wonderful places to while away a week or two far from the madding crowd. To get there you have to drive from Khovd City, the capital of Khovd Aimag, over the Mongol-Altai Mountains to the town of Bulgan. 
Hotel in Bulgan. Notice the wolf pelt drying in the window (click on photos for enlargements)
 Streets of Bulgan
Along the Bulgan River west of Bulgan City we were able to hire two camel men and camels for the trip to across the desert to Baitag Bogd.
 Local camel man and camels
 Riding across the desert-steppe to Baitag Bogd
 Riding across the desert to Baitag Bogd
Approaching Baitag Bogd 
 Oasis-like valley in the foothills of Baitag Bogd—wonderful places to camp.
Small stream with superb drinking water running out of the mountains. 
We camped here for several days so I could drink tea made from this water. New Tie Kuan Yin (Iron Goddess of Mercy) Oolong And Eight-Year Old Puerh Tea matched up especially well with Baitag Bogd water. 
Another excellent camping spot. Inveterate star-gazers will find the skies here are incredibly clear at night, the nearest sources of air or light pollution being hundreds of miles away.
The Baitag Bogd Mountains are right on the Mongolian-Chinese border. Here two Mongolian border guards ride along the fence which separates the two countries. Permits are needed to visit this border area. 
 Baitag Bogd Mountains