Kara Korum - the capital of ancient Mongolia

Kara Korum or Khara Khorum locates in 370 km southwest from Ulaanbaatar. In 1220, Genghis Khan made it a capital of his new empire because of its’ strategic location on ancient trade routes.

Genghis’ third son, Ogodei, expanded Kara Korum and made the capital of Mongol Empire until Kublai Khan moved it to modern day Beijing in 1264. But it served as a center for Kublai’s rival, his younger brother till 1271.

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Outside walls of ancient capital of Mongolia, the city of 'Harhorin'

karakorum walls, karakorum stupa


Today, the ruins of Khara Khorum display more glory than it probably had in 13th century. The monumental walls of about 400 meters long with 108 ‘stupas’ surround the first Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Turtles, carved from the stone which marked the boundaries of the city, are standing still and will greet every visitor.


Although the city was first utterly destroyed during Manchu’s invasion, the temple of Erdene Zuu was erected in 16th century by the first mongol khan who was converted to Buddhism. Erdene Zuu monastery had a capacity to house 10,000 monks at its’ height in some 100 smaller temples. It ‘miraculously’ survived the communist purge only to become a main tourist attraction.

karakorum temple, karakorum gate

You can read more about the city’s history from Mongol Catholic Missions by Plano Carpini, John of Montercarvino and William of Rubruck. They had written very interesting stories and observations. They were surprised to see Nestorian Christians who to them were pagans as everybody else who was non-catholic.

karakorum, mongol empire, capital of ancient mongoli

Its’ ancient history and modern resurrection from the ruins attract not only tourists but also devoted followers of Buddhism. There are many ‘ger’ camps around the city and the services are much improved. The prices vary due to services rendered. You will have the opportunity of hiking, horse trekking, and fishing and enjoy cultural performances and religious rituals.

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Karakorum - ancient capital of Mongolia Not rated yet
To Karakorum - ancient capital of Mongolia We got to Tsetserleg in the late afternoon. During the drive, Leonora discovered that she had left her bag …

Kharkhorin - the former Mongol capital Not rated yet
Next stop was the 'mini Gobi', a small area of sand dunes for a quick 10 minute stop. Unbelievably we bumped into Brenton and Logan here, who we had met …

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The trip to Kharkhorin (or Harhorin, or Karakorum, or whatever, there isn't a correct Western spelling for this ancient Mongolian word) was a relatively …

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