Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and surrounding sacred landscape – World Cultural Heritage in Mongolia

The site is located in the northeast of the country in the central part of the Khentii Mountains, where the vast Central Asian steppe meets the coniferous forests of the Siberian taiga. Burkhan Khaldun is associated with the worship of mountains, rivers, and ovoo-s (shamanic stone waterfalls), where rituals are shaped by a combination of shamanic and Buddhist practices. ancient. The site is also believed to be the birth and burial site of Genghis Khan. It exemplifies his efforts to establish mountain worship as an important part of the unification of the Mongols.

Accreditation year: 2015
Criteria: (iv)(vi)
Area: 443,739.2 ha
Buffer zone: 271.651.17 ha

Outstanding global value

The great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding landscape, located in the central part of the Khentii Mountains form the watershed between the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, where the vast Central Asian steppe meets the coniferous forests of the Siberian taiga. . Water from the permanently snow-capped mountains supplies important rivers that flow both north and south. On the high mountains are forests and lower there are mountain savannas, while in the valley below are open grasslands bisected by rivers that feed the marsh grasslands.

Burkhan Khaldun is associated with Genghis Khan, his famous burial ground and more widely with his founding of the Mongol Empire in 1206. It is one of the four sacred mountains he designated. throughout his life, as part of the official status he conferred on mountain cult traditions, based on age-old shamanic traditions associated with nomadic peoples. The tradition of mountain worship declined when Buddhism was adopted in the late 15th century and seems to have lacked the continuity of the traditions and associations that followed. Since the 1990s, a revival of mountain worship has been encouraged and old shamanic rituals are being revived and integrated with Buddhist rituals. State-sponsored celebrations now take place at the mountain every summer around rivers and three stone ovoo-s (or stone cairns).

The Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountains contain little other than three large stone ovoid formations along paths that connect to a pilgrimage route. The cairns were apparently destroyed in the 17th century but have now been rebuilt with wooden pillars on top. The pilgrimage route begins about 20 kilometers from the mountain by a bridge over the river Kherlen at Threshold Pass, where there is also a large ovoo. Pilgrims ride from there to the large Beliin ovoo made of tree trunks and decorated with prayer blue silk scarves and from there to the main ovoo of the mountain top heaven. The sacredness of the mountain is associated with a sense of isolation and its perceived ‘pristine’ nature.

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The Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding sacred landscape, as a sacred mountain, were at the center of events that profoundly changed Asia and Europe between the 12th and 14th centuries and are linked directly related to Genghis Khan and his official recognition of mountain worship.

Criterion (iv): Sacred Mountain Burkhan Khaldun reflects Genghis Khan’s formalization of mountain worship, an important factor in his success in unifying the Mongol peoples during the founding of the Empire. The Mongol Empire, an event of great historical significance to the history of Asia and the world.

Criterion (vi): The Sacred Mountain Burkhan Khaldun is directly and tangible related to The Secret History of the Mongols, a literary and historical epic recognized as of world importance when included in Memory. of the World Register. Secret history records the connection between the mountain and Chinggis Khan, his official recognition of the mountain’s worship, and Burkhan Khaldun’s official status as one of the four sacred mountains designated throughout. his life.


The property has the right properties within its boundaries to reflect the scale and extent of the fearsome mountain, although boundaries need to be marked in relation to natural features. An ongoing program of work needs to be done on profiling and mapping archaeological sites that could strengthen links with Chinggis Khan or mountain worship traditions and lead to their protection.


All the natural and cultural attributes of Mount Burkhan Khaldun show their value. Various parts of the mountain are vulnerable to increased tourism, which can profoundly alter the sense of isolation if not well managed, and overgrazing can affect the nature. its ‘perceived’ pristine nature and archaeological sites.

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Protection and management requirements

Although much of the Great Burkhan Khaldun mountain range lies within the territory of the Khan Kentii Special Reserve (KK SPA), a small area in the northwest and a large area in the south lie outside the protected area. this guard. There are plans to bring the entire property and its buffer zone into KK SPA territory by 2015. KK SPA provides legal protection, but this is for the protection of the environment and nature rather than protection. cultural heritage protection. Additional safeguards should be established for cultural heritage and to ensure that no mining or extractive industries are allowed to operate in the area. The buffer zone is included in the buffer zone of the KK SPA.

Since 1990 and the renewal of old Mongolian practices related to sacred mountains, national traditions and customs of nature protection in Mongolia and laws related to “Khalkh Juram” have been revived and is now incorporated into state policy. On May 16, 1995, the first President of Mongolia issued a new Decree “Supporting Initiatives to Revive the Worshiping Tradition of Bogd Khan Khairkhan, Burkhan Khaldun (Khan Khentii) and the Otgontenger Mountains” . The Decree declares the State’s support for initiatives aimed at revitalizing Mount worship as described in the Original Mongolian Legal Document and is “regulated under the Official Decree”. The next Decree of the President of the State on “Regulations on rituals of worshiping and worshiping the state sacred mountain” provides a legal tool for organizing tourists in major state worshiping ceremonies. Traditionally, any activity on Mount Burkhan Khaldun, other than worshiping ceremonies, is prohibited. However, the staff of the KK reserve take care of firefighting, forest protection, clearing and reclamation, and tackling illegal hunting and logging.

At the national level, the management of monuments falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Trees, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. At the local level, local governments at aimak-s, soum-s and bag-s levels are responsible for local protection. Although the soum government has people in charge of environmental protection, there doesn’t appear to be any formal arrangements for cultural heritage work. A World Heritage Property Management Authority responsible for the protection and preservation of both natural and cultural properties will be established, although no timeline has been given for this, nor as there is no commitment to provide adequate resources. Traditional protection is supported through a long tradition of worshiping nature and sacred places. For example, it is forbidden to disturb the land, water, trees and all plants, animals and birds in sacred places, or to ban hunting or cutting of timber for trade.

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The Draft Management Plan was submitted as part of the nomination dossier. This will take place from 2015-2025 and includes both cultural and natural heritage. It includes both long-term (2015-2025) and medium-term (2015-2020). The Draft Management Plan has not yet been approved or implemented. Prior to its finalization and adoption, more work is needed to supplement the Plan to allow the Plan to provide a suitable framework for managing the assets and funds needed to still come from organizations. related organizations with additional support from aid and international donor organisations. Archaeological sites in the mountains may contribute to a broader understanding of mountain worship and have not been officially identified and are not actively preserved. Both of these aspects need to be addressed in the Plan.

Although there is a management plan for the Khan Khentii reserve and it is implemented by the Khan Khentii Special Reserve Management Board, the plan is limited to the conservation of the natural environment and seems to There is currently no active management of its cultural attributes, nor is the work guided by specific cultural strategies and policies. These shortcomings need to be addressed.

Map of Burkhan Khaldun Mountains and surrounding sacred landscape

Video of Burkhan Khaldun mountain and surrounding sacred landscape

See also: UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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