Go along the railway line to the southern reaches of the country and enter an arid but splendid territory of intoxicating spirituality. This is a short-themed, unmissable tour of self-discovery through the Trans-Siberian route to Beijing, or as an extension of a more classic circuit. Suitable for anyone who wants to explore Mongolian Buddhism for a few days, on a budget.
Arriving at the train station of the Mongolian capital in the morning, you will embark on your journey to the city of Sainshand in the East Gobi.
You will spend the afternoon on the train with your guide-interpreter. This is the opportunity to admire the landscapes that parade through your windows, or to get to know other passengers around you. After about 10 hours since your departure, you will arrive at your destination with your driver waiting for you and your guide.
Meaning “the good source”, Sainshand has a population of 22,000 inhabitants and over 50,000 cattle. The particularity of this city lies in its division into two parts: one in the north, facing the railway activity of its station; and one to the south, comprising the main administrative institutions in the region.
Lunch on the train; Night in a local hotel
You will begin your spiritual “retreat” by visiting the Danzanravjaa’s museum (1803-1856), who was the founder of “Khamariin Khiid” monastery, which you will also visit later. As a leading figure in the 19th century, Danzanravjaa was recognized as a living Buddha and king of the Gobi. Writer, poet, playwright… and a traditional doctor, he was a politically influential figure as much as artistically. The museum contains over 1,500 varied works (books, gods, etc.), thanks to Tudev and his heirs, former curator of the Gobi kings, who secretly hid more than a hundred boxes from the communist authorities.
Then, you will leave to Khamariin Khiid, one of the gems of Buddhist architecture in the tradition of the Tuvkhun hermitage. These are small monasteries in remote places, which have become a popular pilgrimage site for the Mongols. Peculiarly, unlike the majority of monasteries and temples of Mongolia belonging to the sect of “Yellow Caps” Buddhism, this one belongs to the sect of “Red Caps” Buddhism. The latter has incorporated many esoteric practices (magic, divination, sacrifice) and has less strict rules of life than those of the Yellow Caps, although both are related to Tantric Buddhism. The Khamariin Khiid monastery has “two sister” temples; Ölgii Khiid and Demchig Khiid, both also in the Gobi region.
On the same site, you will finally reach one of the most important and sacred places in Buddhist mythology: Shambala, a gateway to the kingdoms of the Righteous. An extremely popular place of pilgrimage, it attracts many believers who come here to recharge or absorb the particular magnetic energy that emanates from the earth.
In Tibetan mythology, Shambala is the name given to a legendary kingdom in Central Asia, but whose precise location remains unknown; a haven of peace, where all the inhabitants would live in joy and harmony, a kind of Garden of Eden. Other interpretations, however, attribute to Shambala a more spiritual and abstract nature, and do not see it as a real physical place in the strict sense.
Lunch and dinner in the steppe; Overnight at a local hotel
In the morning you will attend the Buddhist prayers in Khamariin Khiid, then leave for Khar uul, or the “black mountain”, a sacred mountain renowned for granting wishes! The visiting locals and pilgrims write their sins on small papers before burning them on an altar, and then go and shout their wishes to the wind on the side of the mountain!
You can take advantage of the rest of the day to deepen your Buddhist exploration, or look around the area which is full of treasures: meditation caves, “sakura” trees, dinosaur bones (considered sacred in ancient times as “dragon bones”), fossilized wood, etc.
Finally, as your tour ends, you will hit the road back for Sainshand. In the evening, board the train bound for Ulan Bator and set up your quarter to spend the night aboard.
Lunch and dinner in the steppe; Overnight in train
You will be arriving in Ulaanbaatar in the morning.
We looking forward to seeing you again!