After dinner, The Wandelgek went to the birthplace of UB. The location where Ulaanbaatar was conceived.
This was a bit more north west from the current city center at Sükhbaatar Square. Ulaanbaatar started as a city which was sprawling around an older monastery, which was named:
The Wandelgek immediately remembered his previous visit to the Ganden Monastery back in 1999 in Tibet. This was a spectacular monastery located as an eagles nest high in the mountains. This Ganden Monastery was named after the Tibetan monastery. Iyou want to read more about The Wandelgek’s visit to tge Tibetan Ganden Monastery and its spectacular nature then click this link: Ganden Monastery
The Gandantegchinlen Monastery (Mongolian: Гандантэгчинлэн хийд, Gandantegchinlen khiid, short name: Gandan Mongolian: Гандан) is a Mongolian Buddhist monastery in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar that has been restored and revitalized since 1990. The Tibetan name translates to the “Great Place of Complete Joy”. It currently has over 150 monks in residence. It features a 26.5-meter-high statue of Avalokiteśvara. It came under state protection in 1994.
The monastery was constructed by order of the 5th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu in 1809. The first temple was the Gungaachoilin Datsan. Only one wooden pillar remains from this temple. In 1838, the Gandantegchenlin Temple was built along with the private residence of the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu. The 13th Dalai Lama stayed in the residence in 1904. In 1840, the Vajradhara Temple was built. In 1869, the Zuu Temple was built. In 1913, the tall Avalokiteśvara temple was built. In 1925, the temple for keeping the remains of the 8th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu was built. It is now the monastery library.
In the 1930s, the Communist government of Mongolia, under the leadership of Khorloogiin Choibalsan and under the influence of Joseph Stalin, destroyed all but a few monasteries and killed more than 15,000 lamas.
Gandantegchinlen Khiid monastery, having escaped this mass destruction, was closed in 1938, but then reopened in 1944 and was allowed to continue as the only functioning Buddhist monastery, under a skeleton staff, as a token homage to traditional Mongolian culture and religion. With the end of Marxism in Mongolia in 1990, restrictions on worship were lifted.
The Gandan Library
Two Chinese style lions are on guard in front of the Chinese style temple buildings of the library…
Most of the beautiful exterior docorations were protected against birds and bird poo by chicken wire…
The library was closed so The Wandelgek did not have a peek inside.
This building was also within the walled area where the library was too…
Lots of colorful decoration of which a lot seemed very recently applied…
A row of prayer wheels…
Typical for Tibetan style are the whitewashed base of the building and the gold colored roof, decorated with large gold colored cilinders that might be prayer wheels too. The central decoration of the two deer on both sides of the wheel of life is typical Tibetan too.
The interior was sparsely lit and contained as a centerpiece this huge statue…
The original statue, made of copper, was built after appeals to the Mongolian public; its intent was to restore the sight of the 8th Jebtsundamba, also known as Bogd Khan, who had claimed the title of Emperor of Mongolia. The statue was built by Bogd Javzandamba’s principal minister, Chin Wan Khanddorj. Russian troops dismantled the original statue in 1938. After the end of the Soviet era, the statue of Avalokiteśvara was rebuilt in 1996, funded by donations by the Mongolian people. It features 2,286 precious stones and is gilded with gold leaf.
Since 1992, the Supreme Leader of the Centre of All Mongolian Buddhists and Abbot of Gandantegchinlen Monastery has been Lama Gabju Choijamts Demberel.
The peripheral areas of the interior were full of other, smaller statues and prayer wheels…
After leaving the building and steppong into the bright sunlight it took some time for the eyes to get used to that. On a stair The Wandelgek saw this giant Chinese style lion…
There were a lot of Buddhist symbols painted on buildings, e.g. on walls and doors…
One of the paintings on a door really looked similar to what The Wandelgek had seen on the Mongolian flag:
The flag of Mongolia is a vertical triband with a red stripe at each side and a blue stripe in the middle, with the Mongolian Soyombo symbol centering on the leftmost stripe. The blue stripe represents the eternal blue sky, and the red stripes thriving for eternity. The Soyombo symbol is a geometric abstraction that represents fire, sun, moon, earth, water, and a Taijitu symbol representing the duality of yin and yang.
Next The Wandelgek decided to visit a new, modern Buddhist temple building to compare with the older ones…
This building interior had a completely different vibe. Yes there were lots of statues of Buddha, Lamas, Boddhisatvas and other deities and divine monsters, but this interior was very light because of electric lighting. The temple is used as a conference center as well.
After having visited several of the Monastery’s buildings, The Wandelgek left the terrain.
The monastery is surrounded by the Gandan ger suburb, but there is also one side where, near the main gate where the monastery shop can be found. The Wandelgek wanted to buy a Buddhist monastery book, wrapped in cloth, like the ones he had seen in Tibetan and in some Mongolian monasteries.
If you wanna read more about Buddhist monastery books, the click this link: Buddhist Monastery Books.
In his next blogpost, The Wandelgek will visit the current center of UB.