Khovd, Mongolia
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Khovd, Mongolia

Khovd city is also known as Hovd but not to be confused with Khovd county/ province of which Khovd city is the capital. 

Khovd city was founded in 1731 during which the Chinese Qing dynasty was occupying much of Mongolia.  At its birth, it was a small farming town but began to grow as a Manchu viceroy constructed a fortress with a garrison of troops.

At Mongolia’s liberation in 1912/1921 from the Chinese, Khovd was one of the last cities in the country to be liberated. 

After its liberation, Khovd grew into a centre for trade with Russia and remains a major industrial centre for the region today. 

It is at the centre of a growing road network and has a small airport.

Hovd province itself is quite a fertile region and is well-known for growing fruits such as watermelon, berries and other necessities.


Modern Khovd 

Khovd city today has a population of around 35,000 people.

The population is considered one of the most diverse in Mongolia, made up of ten ethnic groups.

Uuld, Khalkh, Zakhchin, Torguud, Uriankhai, Myangad, Durvud, Bayad, Kazak, Chantuu and Üzemchin can all call this city home.

Khovd city is a good gateway for any visitor entering the far west of the country; the city has a pleasant easygoing feel about it. Not being a major tourism hub it is a great place to experience a more authentic Mongolian city. 

Its main source of income is light industry and agriculture the market still being at the heart of the city, there are modern shops slowly making inroads with the ubiquitous yellow building of Nomin supermarket easily seen in town.


Visiting

Khovd sits an elevation of 1406m. This makes for a good start when heading into the higher Altai mountain ranges nearby.

The fast-flowing Buyant Gol river skirts the city cutting through Khovds lush green water meadows.

This is a must-see area in the summer as much of the city's residents construct their Gers (tents) and live for a couple of months embracing their Nomadic heritage.

Khovd Museum 

This soviet style affair has the usual collection of moth-eaten stuffed wildlife along with that dusty feel.

It does, however, house an excellent selection of local ethnic costumes as well as showing Buddhist and Kazakh art. For those interested in ancient history, check out the recreation of the cave paintings at Tsenkheriin Agui.

Ard Ayush Square

One thing that Mongolia adopted from Soviet Russia was the city square and Khovds does not disappoint.

From here you can see the cities old school picturesque beauty as it’s flanked by the school children’s palace, Governor's palace, the theatre as well as the regional government offices. 

The small statue within the centre of the square honours Aldanjavyn Ayush (1859-1939), a local revolutionary hero who amongst other things pushed the then occupying Manchus to lower taxation. He was eventually made head of the province in 1921 after the revolution.  

Sangiin Kherem (Manchu Ruins)

At the northern section of the city, you can find some of the remaining walls from the Manchu (Qing dynasty) occupation. 

This once 40,000M sq. walled-compound is said to have housed several temples, a graveyard, and homes of the Manchu elite.

Of course today there is little left to see. The 1500-man Chinese garrison was destroyed following a 10-day siege and battle that lasted two days in August 1912. 

Tureemel Amarjuulagai Khiid Buddhist monastery

Was once located outside of the city, along with many of Mongolia’s other monastery’s and religious buildings it was destroyed in 1937.

It has now seen a resurgence and has been rebuilt on the airport road. Well worth the visit, stop by in the morning to catch the monks making their daily prayers. If you have time why not walk up onto the walls to catch a glimpse of some of the stunning scenery surrounding the city. 

Khar Us Nuur (lake)

A 40km drive to the east of Khovd city is Khar Us Nuur (Black Water Lake), the second-largest freshwater lake in Mongolia is worth a visit.

It only has an average depth of  4m for those who can brave the millions of mosquitos an early morning swim in the summer can be had. Khar Us Nuur is also a offers a great habitat for wild ducks, geese, wood grouse, partridges and gulls, the best time for birders will be May and late August.

Tsenkheriin Agui

Further out from Hovd you can find Tsenkheriin Agui (also known as Khoid Tsenkher) caves. It can be a fun excursion for an afternoon driving to and climbing up to the attractive caves.

Within these caves are found the cave paintings dating as far back as 15,000 years.

They are interesting to see all the massive amounts of bird and bat dung may put many of.

In recent years, some of the paintings have been defaced by modern graffiti but depictions of Mammoths and Ostriches can be seen.



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