Terelj National Park
Terelj National Park or Gorkhi Terelj National Park (top attractions : turtle rock & ariyabal meditation temple) locates in 60 km from Ulaanbaatar to the south-east, which 1.5-2 hours drive and the nearest park to the city. It covers 2,864 square km of truly picturesque and bizarre shaped high mountains and cliffs, with good amount of forest and rivers.
To be precise, it comprises Southern mountain ranges of Baga Khentii Mountain, basins of North and South Gorkhi rivers and of Zaan-Terelj River and the source area of Tuul River. Mountains of Gorkhi-Terelj are formation of only granitic massifs, which contains several hundreds of pegmatites.
In 1924, Fersman A.E, a Russian scientist and geochemist conducted a research in Gorkhi-Terelj area and first discovered 22 types of crystals. They brought back 25kg of crystal as a sample to exhibit in his museum. Apart from the crystals, sedimentary rocks of Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic era such as coal and carboniferous argillites or siliceous rocks spread through the area.
Huge blocks of granite have been eroded by wind, rain, frost, ice and natural acids into bizarre shapes such as a mushroom, a camel or a turtle which are quite interesting displays.
Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is divided into the following three zones ;
- the restricted area where local nomads live and herd their livestock
- the strictly protected area, where rangers of the National park conduct their scientific researches
- environmental activities, and the tourist area.
There are about 376 of big and small entrepreneurs and local families run their business in the tourist area. Even if camps, in other words, urban life rushed into this beautiful place, it can barely overpower the nature.
Gorkhi Terelj National Park Tour
Foreign and domestic tourists come here to do every kind of activities such as horse trekking, hitch hiking and spending time with nomadic families. There are several hiking or trekking routes. You can just head wherever you wanted to go and blend with the nature that is worth to be. This national park was formed in 1993, with its splendid and diverse sceneries.
Terelj National Park Horse riding tour
There are several horse trekking routes throughout the National Park. If you ride along the Terelj River and reach to the confluence of the Rivers Terelj and Tuul. There is the monumental statue erected on the beautiful valley where the Ikh Khuree of Mongol (current Ulaanbaatar) was located once in 1733-1734. Furthermore, there are more to see such as the Temple of Princess where Manchurian princess used to live in, the Gate of Sumt, and average height of mountain ranges with landshaft of forestry and taiga.
The main hiking route is a Turtle rock and Ariyabal Buddhist Meditation temple. You can do it either by walking or by driving depending on where your camp is. The Turtle Rock is a granite formation, which is one of the most vivid images created by nature itself in this area. You’re going to see the turtle rock on the way to Ariyabal meditation temple. It is 24m tall. Local people call the rock with various names such as Coin rock, Silver rock or Turtle rock.
Wherever you’re staying you can walk or hike nearby your camp. But try not go too far. There is a danger of getting lost and of encountering with wild animals like bears or wolves.
Turtle Rock & Ariyabal Meditation Temple in Terelj National Park
There are many legends about the turtle rock that made local people worship it.
From the turtle rock, you’ll drive to the Ariyabal meditation temple for about 5 minutes. It’s going to be 30 minutes’ hike from the entrance to the temple on the hillside of a mountain.
Ariyabal temple was built in 1998-2004 and inaugurated in summer 2006. Ariyabal is one of the most worshiped Buddhist deities in Mongolia.
As you hike up to the temple, you’ll pass by Buddhist proverbs and quotes written on wooden placards. You can take your time to read the signs and contemplate their meanings. This action puts you into meditation mode and lets you forget about the outside world right away. At the end of these signs you’ll meet a prayer wheel which you can spin and foretell about your day or about your life. Arrow on the wheel ceiling stops at a certain number from 1 to 150 and the number it stops at is the number of your saying among all others that line up from that point to the temple.
But again, in order to get to the temple, you’ll have to walk across a rope bridge which dangles between two hills. The temple is small but a beautiful rendition of Buddhist philosophy and natural serenity. They dug the mountain in order to flatten its ground and built 108 stairs that lead you to the temple. If you chant a mantra ‘om mani padme hum’ on every step you take every sin you committed intentionally or unintentionally will be cleared one by one.
Accommodation – Tourist Ger camp
- Terelj Hotel or Resort– 5-star hotel
- Terelj lodge tourist lodge
How is Terelj National park winter ?
There are even possibilities to do winter tours with every possible way including dog sledding on the frozen Terelj River.
Terelj National Park Day tour
Considering the location near to Ulaanbaatar, you can visit anytime and any month here. If you want to add some sites to your trip there is Chinggis Khan Statue Complex.
If you come here in summer, you can have a chance to see a Naadam festival. This is a traditional three-game ceremony held in occasion of independence day of Mongolia. However, if you miss the July 11 of the festival you can still see the mini-Naadam festivals in the area, which are organized by some tourist camps.