The brainchild of G Purevbat, a lama and world-renowned master of Buddhist sculpture and painting, Aglag Khiid was built in 2014 as a meditation and education centre. Yet following the trails of this mountain monastery, overlooking pine forest and dotted with boulders carved with Buddhist reliefs, you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for a 300-year-old temple. Located 100km from Ulaanbaatar, it's become an increasingly popular day trip for locals and tourists alike seeking fresh air with a dose of spirituality.
After a steep 10-minute hike from the car park, your first stop is the monastery complex, which houses several museums. Collectively they contain interesting local artefacts and Buddhist relics that have been shifted here from the original museum in nearby Bornuur. Some exhibits are a bit gruesome, including a stack of human skulls pulled out of a mass grave. They are the skulls of local lamas who were executed by communist forces in 1937. There's also a rather frightening collection of stuffed animals, both real and fabricated – from five-headed fish to a unicorn!
After viewing the monastery museum, follow the signed path that loops up above the monastery to view G Purevbat's series of exquisite Buddhist rock carvings. This walk is the highlight of a visit here, and you'll encounter atmospheric stupas and sacred rock formations (including fertility rock sculpture) as well as fantastic panoramas to the surrounding forest. There's no English signage (so bringing along a guide is recommended), but otherwise there's an informative, glossy book for purchase (T20,000) from the museum.
For food there's a very basic guanz (canteen) on-site that sells cold drinks and beef khuushuur (T1000), but a better choice are the lovely ger restaurants nearby with great steppe views and local food and airag (fermented mare’s milk; available late June to August).
The site is around 100km northwest of Ulaanbaatar, along the Ulaanbaatar–Darkhan road, about 5km south of Bornuur (Борнуур). There's no public transport here, so you'll need to arrange your own vehicle or join a tour.