Main Buddhist Temples and Monasteries in Mongolia
One of the most important and biggest monastery of Ulaanbaatar is the Gandan Monastery. It was founded in the year 1835 by order of the 5th Jebsundamba, who was the head of Mongolian Buddhism. In the 1930s Gandan Monastery was the only temple that operating its function during communist regime. Unfortunately, in 1938, Gandan monastery was closed down only to be reopened in 1944 after some monk’s petition. When democratic revolution took place in 1990s, Gandan Monastery was given the right to operate freely for public worship. Today, the monastery is main worshipping place for locals and every Mongolians visit to pray for Migjid Janraisig (Avalokitesvara) at least 1 time a year. Around 150 monks belong to this monastery.
In 1580, The Prince Avtai sain established the Erdenezuu monastery on the ruins of Karkhorum. . At its prime time, Erdenezuu monastery used to be not only the center of Buddhism of Mongolia but also was a centre of intelligence and culture. During the political purge, only three temples and the outer wall with the stupas remained intact. The temples were transformed in museums in 1947. After the fall of communism in 1990, the monastery became a place of worship again, where many pilgrims come to walk and gather their thoughts. Today Erdenezuu Monastery is famous for its ancient temple architecture, unique museum with rare exhibits. It’s certainly the first and oldest Buddhist monastery of Mongolia.
Amarbaysgalant is beautiful monastery located northwest of the centre of Sant sum in the valley of the Iven River. It is said that construction work lasted 16 years, at the end of which over 50 temples were built. The monastery is dedicated to prince Zanabazar and built by the order of Enkh Amgalan Khan of Manchu empire. During the political purges, most of the temples and statues were destroyed. After three centuries, only 28 temples survived to date. It has been protected in 1943 and was a registered in the world’s cultural heritage by UNESCO in 1996. Presently, 30 monks reside in the newly restored monastery ranging in age from 7 to 90.
Khamriin khiid monastery was established in the 1820’s by famous 19th century Mongolian educator and poet and skilled artist and Great and Horrible Saint Danzanravjaa. He established a public school, theatre, museum and library within the monastery.
At Khamriin khiid monastery, there was The “Namtar duulakh datsan” (story-singing college), established in the 1830s as Mongolian first professional theatre. The nearby “Khuukhdiin datsan“ (children’s college) was providing non-religious education. At its peak monastery consisted of more than eighty temples with over five hundred lamas. The monastery was completely destroyed during Mongolian religious purge. Currently two small ceremonial temples and several religious monuments have been reconstructed, with more than ten lamas now are residing at the monastery.
The monoastery is the place where his famous artworks were created; including five transcendent Buddha’s, Soyombo Alphabet and National Symbol Soyombo. During Zanabazar’s lifetime the monastery was called Bayasgalant Aglag Oron (Happy Secluded Place).
The small temple was heavily damaged by communists during the upheavals of the late 1930s.
Useful Links: History of Buddhism in Mongolia