Gandan monastery

The Gandan Monastery, the largest and most important monastery in the country, is located on a hill in the west of the city and can be seen from afar. Temples and monasteries are beautiful to look at in their architectural splendor and definitely worth a visit. From Sukhbaatar Square, the path leads to the Gandan Monastery via Peace Avenue, past the Ikh Delguur department store, towards the west. After about a kilometer you reach a crossing with the striking Narantuul Hotel, behind which you have to turn right and keep going up the hill until you reach the unmistakable large entrance gate. To the right and left of the path and to the left of the entrance are small shops that sell things like prayer wheels and flags, path about 45 minutes. The grounds are incense sticks and other pretty Lamaist-Buddhist devotional items are sold. It takes you on foot surrounded by yurt settlements separated by a wooden fence. The name Gandan is an abbreviation of the term Gandantegchilen Khiid, which means “joyful monastery” in Tibetan. It was founded in 1838, previously there was a small wooden building from 1809, which no longer exists today. During the anti-Buddhist political phase in the late 1930s, the monastery was closed and several buildings were badly damaged or destroyed, including five temples. In 1944 the government allowed the remaining buildings to be reopened. For a long time, Gandan was the only monastery in Mongolia where Buddhist practices were only allowed to take place under official control and strict supervision by the socialist government. With the political change in 1991, Buddhism in Mongolia experienced a new heyday and the restoration of the complex began. The Gandan Monastery is now the most important Buddhist sanctuary in Mongolia. Today there are several hundred monks living in the monastery again, but this is only a fraction of the time when the monastery grounds offered more than 5000 people a roof over their heads. As a living museum, it is a tourist attraction and at the same time a pulsating place for the Buddhist faith, which has enough space for practice and teaching there. The eagerly used prayer wheels, which are located both outside and inside the buildings, are beautiful to look at. The temple library contains more than 50,000 books and manuscripts. The 108 volume standard work of Tibetan Buddhism, Gandjuur ”is also housed here. There has also been a Buddhist monastery university since 1970, which enables ten students to study each year according to strict selection criteria. Courses on philosophy, Sanskrit, traditional medicine, singing and astrology are offered. When you enter the monastery grounds through the large entrance gate, the architectural roots of Tibet can be felt, even if there are obvious influences of the Chinese construction, which are particularly visible on the curved pagoda roofs. An example of the efforts of the builders to incorporate elements of Mongolian architecture can be seen on the golden roof of the Maidari temple. It is located directly opposite the front gate of the facility and was built in 1912. At 42 meters, it is dedicated to the tallest temple in Ulan Bator and the goddess Maytreya. It is a building made of white stone walls with narrow windows in the Tibetan style, which is covered by a three-story pagoda roof built in Chinese style. Inside is a gigantic statue of the goddess Janraisig, the Bodhisattva of universal compassion Avalokiteshvara. The “enlightened being” is also the patron saint of Tibet and is considered the incarnation of the Dalai Lama. The original statue was commissioned by Bogd Gegeen in 1911 to symbolize the independence of Mongolia and was inaugurated in 1913. It was also popularly known “Buddha of the Eye” because the Bogd Geen hoped that the statue would also improve his eyesight. In 1938, however, it was dismantled, presumably destroyed or taken to an unknown location in the Soviet Union. In the early 1990s it was decided to use donations to finance a copy of the statue. The 90-ton and 26.50 meter high sculpture was inaugurated in 1996. The enormous donations have been invested, among other things, in the building materials: 2100 precious stones, nine kilograms of gold, 25 kilograms of silver, 20 tons of copper, 27 tons of steel, 15 tons of plaster, more than 30 tons of cement. A throne chair for the Dalai Lama was also erected in the temple. To the right of the Maidari temple, the university and the library are housed in two buildings. If you go through the entrance gate of the monastery complex and then right