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The Peal of Mongolia: Lake Khuvsgul

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

What is Khuvsgul Lake?

Khuvsgul lake Mongolia travel Enza tours
Khuvsgul lake Mongolia travel Enza tours

In every year, a lot of tourists visit the Pear of Mongolia the Lake Khuvsgul. This is one of the most local and foreign tourists attracted place because of the purest lake, beautiful nature, nomadic and reindeer people. Below information help you to get some information about Khuvsgul lake before you travel to Mongolia. We are a Mongolian travel agency to organise the Mongolia trips to Khuvsgul lake every year.

Being located at 101 kilometres north of Murun city, stretching over Alag-Erdene, Renchinlkhumbe, Khankh and Chandmani-Undur soums of Khuvsgul province, it covers 2,760 sq. meters of the area is 34-36 kilometres wide, 136 kilometres long and is located at 1,645 meters above sea level.

About Khuvsgul lake

The lake was formed 7 million years ago. Shore length is 414 kilometres and it is ranked at No. 14 in the world for its freshwater reserve and No. 2 in Asia. 46 rivers flow into Khuvsgul Lake which makes up 1% of the freshwater reserve of the world. Even though 70 per cent of the lake floor rests at more than 100 meters deep, water transparency reaches down to 24.5 meters.

More than 12 species of fish, including Siberian grayling and sturgeon. The lake freezes completely by the end of November and ice width reaches down to 1 meter. It is surrounded by mountain ranges including Khoridol Saridag and Bayan mountain ranges at 3,000-3,200 meters tall rest at its south-west side.

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Mongolia travel in Khuvsgul Lake by Enza tours

Khuvsgul lake has 4 islets called Modon khui, Khadan khui, Dalain khui and Baga khui. The largest is Dalain khui which is raised at 126 meters above the water surface, are 3 kilometres long, 2 kilometres wide and its 5.8 sq. meters of the area is covered in thick forest. Khadan khui islet has tall cliffs where seagulls rest in large numbers. Khadan khui islet is 200 meters wide and 800 meters long. Modon khui islet has beautiful scenery. Khadan khui and Modon khui islets are located at 40 kilometres apart from each other.

There is a legend about Khuvsgul Lake. During the Manchurian dictatorship, people were turning out their pockets, being taxed for natural resources. Qing Dynasty emperor released an order to tax from the lake and locals were not happy about it. They argued that Khuvsgul was not a lake, it was an ocean. When asked how they would prove it is indeed an ocean, they told Manchurians that as there are 100 rivers flowing into it, it is considered an ocean.

As Manchurian experts were familiar with lakes, they set a date to count the rivers flowing into the lake. Mongolians presented offerings to the mountain and water gods and chanted mantras. As a result, there was heavy rainfall and every ditch and ravine were filled with water that flew to the lake. As there were more than 100 ravines on one side of the lake, it was impossible to count the actual river flowing into the lake. Experts reported it to Qing Emperor and called Khuvsgul an ocean and released it from taxation.

In another legend, there was no lake in the area in ancient times. It was a green steppe with fertile soil, full of grass and livestock pastures. Locals used to export animal fur and precious stones to the south and imported goods, rice and flour in return. As locals who lived there lived a happy life, it was called a “Valley of Heaven”.

khvusgul lake camps and horses Mongolia travel Enza tours
Khuvsgul lake camps

But one day, a tramp with bad intention wandered into the valley. The tramp was jealous of their happy life and spread rumours that caused relatives and neighbours to argue. Locals fought each other and murder and robbery took place.

Eternal Sky, having witnessed all this chaos, warned the locals to be friendly to each other. But as locals did not listen to him, Eternal Sky was angry and sent thunderbolts to them, turning over mountains and breaking cliffs. Valley of Heaven was split in half and through the crack sizzling hot water shot out of earth centre and valley drowned.

People climbed up to mountains to save their life. However, they were faced with famine. Without any other means, people prayed to the Eternal Sky and presented offerings to save them. After hearing their prayers, the Eternal Sky dropped a large stone to close the crack in the valley. Soon after boiling water cooled down and became a freshwater lake.

About the waterport at Khatgal of Khuvsgul Lake.

In 1910, Russian merchants travelled through Khuvsgul Lake on a small wooden raft with 40 tons of capacity which started water transport at Khuvsgul lake. In 1913, a ship called “Mongolia” with 6 horsepower and 700 tons of capacity shipped wool. Since 1931, wooden ship with 100 horsepower, “Sukhbaatar” ship with 200 horsepower since 1934. Since 1956, “Khuvsgul” ship with 400 tons of capacity along with sea mule with the capacity of 700 tons were used for water transportation of Khuvsgul Lake.

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Khuvsgul Lake Mongolia travel Enza tours

Since 1985, “Sukhbaatar” ship with 40 years of technical license, diesel motor with 800 horsepower with automatic control, with the capacity to drag 1,800 tons of load and which speeds up to 20-22 kilometres per hour. A ship is 41 meters long, 8.5 meters wide and 11 meters tall. It used to transport goods over the lake in the past. But now it transports foreign and domestic tourists over the lake.

What is Modon khui islet of Khuvsgul Lake?

As the legend says, when Sun ocean was a puddle and Sumber mountain was a hill, there was no Lake Khuvsgul. There was no one except for a poor old woman who had five black goats for her yoghurt and nothing except for a well with cover in this wide steppe with a mirage of snow top mountains playing up in far. One day the old lady forgot to cover the well after watering her goats. Water from the well flowed over the area and almost drowned people around that area.

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Khuvsgul lake view

At that time, a strong man came along and cut the top part of the snow top mountain in the far distance and put it over the well. Water that came out of the well stayed as a lake and mountain top stayed there as an islet. Mountain which had its top cut by the strong man looks like the flat board, hence, got the name “Uran Dush” and the islet with the forest was called “Modon khui”.

However, as the well still leaked through its lid and water level of the lake still increased. So, the old woman cut one side of the surrounding mountain and formed a river. The river is called “Egiin River” and it is the only river that poured out of the lake.

Deer stone at the opening of Khyadag in Khuvsgul Lake

A narrow channel coming from west to Tuya bagh area in Burentogtokh soum, Khuvsgul province is called Khyadag. There are 5 deer stones there. 4 stones were made out of light pink granite stone and 1 deer stone was made out of light grey marble stone and all are 0.9-2.7 meters tall. On top of the face of the stones have sun carved, and hoof stamp, thin belt, wide belt with razor top image, small knife, bow and arrow, horse and deer are carved in style.

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Reindeer stone

Discover the land of Tsaatan (reindeer herders) in the Khuvsgul

The Tsaatan people (reindeer herders) are the unknown ethnic group in the world. A huge number of local and foreign tourist are visiting them during the Mongolia travel session. Here is some information about Tsaatan people.

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Reindeer Mongolia in Khuvsgul Lake

Most of the Tsaatan ethnic group lives in west and east taigas in Tsagaannuur soum at 250 kilometres from Murun city. Their main residence lies in Burkheeleg, Jims, Ulaan taiga mountains, valleys of Tengis, Sharga and Shishged rivers. Tsaatan people call themselves Uighur-Uriankhai of Toj khoshuu of Tuva and are divided into 11 tribes such as Khuular, Urud, Sors, Dargalan, Khashtag, Balgash (Balychki), Demjee, Dodot, Soyon Zoot (Jogd) and Kherdeg. Scholars call them Uighur-Uriankhai.