Gandan is fully active and the largest functioning monastery including the Mongolian Buddhist University. The highlight of visit to Gandan is 26-meter-high majestic gilded indoor statue of Megjid Janraisig. This overwhelmingly glorious deity was crafted in 1911 to celebrate independence and freedom from Manchu. Literally it can be translated as Great Place of Complete Joy.
The first temple of Gandan Monastery was established in 1835 by the order of 5th Jebtsundamba, the highest reincarnated lama of Mongolia. In the beginning of the 20th century Gandantegchinleng Monastery was the centre of Buddhist learning in Mongolia. Many prominent Buddhist scholars in Mongolia as well as in Buddhist scholars in the world were educated and trained by its various colleges and their works on Buddhist philosophy, linguistics, medicine, astrology and tantric practice became the most authoritative and accurate Buddhist texts.
In 1938s, the communists suppressed religious communities in Mongolia. They destroyed around 900 monasteries, though less handful were turned into museums. The monks were killed, jailed, or forced to join the army or laity. Five temples of Gandan Monastery were destroyed. The remaining temples were used to accommodate Russian officials or used as barns to keep their horses.
In 1938, Gandantegchinleng Monastery was closed, but reopened in 1944 as the only functioning monastery during the socialist regime. Because Gandan Monastery was used as a showcase for visitors
After the democratic change took place in 1990 Buddhism regained its full right of worship. Gandan Monastery embarked on an ambitious restoration program around the country. Then in the whole country 140 monasteries and temples have been (re)established and many sacred statues were reconstructed so far
Currently Gandantegchinleng Monastery includes a Mongolian Buddhist University (established in 1970); three colleges of Buddhist philosophy;