Mandshir Khiid information
For the 350 monks who once called this place home, the gorgeous setting around this monastery (elevation 1645m) must have been a daily inspiration. Like most monasteries in Mongolia, Mandshir Khiid was destroyed in 1937 by Stalin’s thugs, but was partially restored in the 1990s. Just 6km northeast of Zuunmod and 46km by road from Ulaanbaatar, the monastery is a perfect half-day trip from the capital, or can be used as a starting point for hikes into the Strictly Protected Area. One possibility is to take the bus here from Ulaanbaatar early in the morning, then hike back over the hills.
The main temple has been restored and converted into a museum, but the other buildings remain in ruins. The monastery and museum are not as impressive as those in Ulaanbaatar – it is the beautiful forest setting that makes a visit worthwhile.
As you enter from the main track from Zuunmod you’ll be required to pay an admission fee of T5000 per person, which covers the T2000 museum entrance fee and the T3000 national park fee. You’ll have to buy both tickets even if you don’t plan on entering the museum.
From the gate it’s a couple of kilometres to the main area, where there is a car park, a shop, a lacklustre nature museum a restaurant (that isn't always open) and several gers offering accommodation. Look for the huge two-tonne bronze cauldron , which dates from 1726 and was designed to boil up 10 sheep at a time.
The remains of the monastery (and monastery museum) are about 800m uphill from the car park. The monastery museum has tsam masks, exhibits on the layout of Mandshir and some photos that show what it looked like before Stalin’s followers turned it into rubble. Look out for the controversial Ganlin Horn , made from human thigh bones.
If you have time, it’s worth climbing up the rocks behind the main temple, where there are some 18th-century Buddhist rock paintings . The views from the top are even more beautiful, and you’ll find yourself in the midst of a lovely pine forest.