The Manzushir Ruins on a Silent Day

About fifteen kilometers South of Ulaanbaatar, across the wide-pine forests of Bogd Khan, lies the Manzushir Temple – what used to house three hundred Buddhist monks. When the Soviet Union turned Mongolia into a communist satellite state, the ideological ardor of Stalinist purges swept the nation, taking along with it institutional Buddhism, the lives of many practicing monks, and their temples.

peak hiking

In my brief tenure of six months in Mongolia, I’ve visited Manzushir on several occasions but had my time cut short for a number of reasons: once I got lost on the hike over and returned  to UB after spending a day and a half wandering the forest, and the other was reined in by a raging hangover. This time the stark contrast of snowy hills to the open green steppe froze my jeans around the cuff as temperatures soared to -10C.

The first thing on our agenda was a short hike through the pistey valley peaks that enclosed the temple fringes. Up into the forest, around the the rock outcrops, and back down through the outlying mudbrick skeletons of politics gone awry. One of the coolest things that I saw was a gargantuan cauldron used to feed the monks back in the day – apparently you could boil a horse within its two tons of its caste-iron practicality.

the cauldron here stands up to my chest

We also took a short tour of one of the rebuilt temples and perused an old grainy photo collection, proof that the monastery had seen better days. Unfortunately the cold killed my phone battery about twenty minutes into the hike.


3 thoughts on “The Manzushir Ruins on a Silent Day

    1. Nothing too bad! I was with two others and we knew it was going to be an overnight – so we brought food, water, tents..etc., Access to accurate information can be very difficult due to the language and general lack of regulation/oversight (maps, conversation, most info is passed down through word of mouth).

      The original intent was to spend the weekend camping/hiking the way there and hitchike back, but after walking the trails back and forth until Sunday afternoon we gave up. We had dropped into one valley and knew that we were on the wrong side and would have to bushwack East. The main matter being how many valleys we’d have to cross.

      The decision was made and we headed North, back to the UB. Hard to miss the polluted haze that hangs over the cityscape, so that was the easy part.


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