Visit Manzushir monastery

Tuv Province, Central Mongolia

For the 350 monks who once called this place home, the gorgeous setting around this monastery must have been a daily inspiration. Like most monasteries in Mongolia, Mandshir Khiid was destroyed in 1937 by Stalin’s thugs but was partially restored in the 1990s. Just 6km northeast of Zuunmod and 46km by road from Ulaanbaatar, the monastery is a perfect half-day trip from the capital or can be used as a starting point for hikes into the Strictly Protected Area.

The main temple has been restored and converted into a museum, but the other buildings in the area remain in ruins. The monastery and museum are not as impressive as those in Ulaanbaatar – it is the beautiful forest setting that makes a visit worthwhile. From the gate, it’s a couple of kilometers to the main area, where there is a shop, a lackluster museum, a restaurant and several gers offering accommodation. Look for the huge two-tonne bronze cauldron, which dates from 1726 and was designed to boil up 10 sheep at a time. The remains of the monastery are about 800m uphill from the museum. The monastery museum has tsam masks, exhibits on the layout of Mandshir and some photos that show what it looked like before Stalin’s thugs turned it into rubble. Look out for the controversial Ganlin Horn, made from human thigh bones.