Sunday, January 5, 2014

A walking tour of Ulaanbatar

Get up- Cold shower- Breakfast- Ready for the day!

The morning walk was sublime! Early morning breeze, young sun rising and shining on our backs, school children running to catch their buses and UB business class rushing to their offices...The shops and buildings on both the sides of Peace Avenue were still not fully awake, but the Russian architecture was shouting out aloud the Communist presence that left more than a little mark on the city..
Peace Avenue

After buying bus tickets for our journey to Tsetserleg planned for next day, we decided to visit Gandan Monastery, which is off the main street...a road runs sloping upwards a little from peace avenue to the monastery. Small red, yellow flags swim through the wind, against the bright blue sky..entering the monastery, you will be greeted by a whole flock of pigeons, who are not so afraid of people as it is customary to feed them can literary walk through them and they would make a temporary way for you by jumping to another spot..the monastery has a feel,,the feel of the prayer wheels, monks and can hear the music in your heart, distant drum beats and the music played by the ever-present wind..the literal translation of the word Gandan is "Great Place of Complete Joy" and you will experience that joy, a peaceful joy!

Prayer flags swimming the wind

Taking it to the air
Birds and the Monastery

The monastery houses around 150 monks and a big Buddha statue and history tells that it was partly destroyed and all of its contents were taken away by the communists during their rule and were converted into ammunition required for the war effort of Russia...but the Mongolians re-constructed the monastery and its contents and the tall Buddha's satisfied face suggests that monastery is peaceful, once again, despite atrocities by the communists! 
Circle round the monastry with the prayer wheels ..rotating one at a time, make each prayer heard by the divine power... but do not rush or push the wheel too fast, else you come back to where you started!

Lion standing vigil

Tall Buddha statue

The evening came rushing in as our afternoon was spent trying the first Mongolian beer, finding our lunch and visiting a few more guesthouses for more options...

As evening progressed, streets started to become more and more lively...all of a sudden, vans parked at road-sides opened their rear doors, to reveal various things inside for sale, fruits, shoes, clothes, hats.. Rather convenient alternative for a shop!

We reached Sukhbaatar square with evening sun still reflecting on the modern glass buildings surrounding the area..The square is huge and is named after their modern hero of revolution, has an equestrian statue of this revolutionary and also statues of Genghis along with his 9 heroes...there are few benches to sit on and locals come there to spend free time with their families....after a peaceful joy at the monastery, the square was filled with an energetic joy! Families having happy conversations, kids cycling and skating, couples taking photographs...we spent our evening there till the nightfall, which came sooner than expected! Without any warning, the square became deserted, both of people and of the energy and cold started to remind us of its presence...

Genghis Khan and his Heroes

The Square

Modern revolutionary- Sukhbaatar

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