Amarbayasgalant Khiid, Amarbayasgalant monasteries, Mongolia, Mongolian monasteries
THE REGIONS OF MONGOLIA
SIGHTS OF INTEREST IN MONGOLIA
The star attraction of Selenge aimag, this monastery is considered the
second most important in Mongolia (after Erdene Zuu Khiid in Kharkhorin) and the
most intact architectural complex in Mongolia. It is well worth visiting on the
way to or from Khovsgol Nuur - or other areas in northern or western Mongolia,
but it is difficult to reach. It's probably not worth the effort of coming here
all the way from Ulaanbaatar just to see the monastery - you are better off
incorporating it into a short three-or-four-day countryside trip to take in the
surrounding scenery, or a longer cross-country trip.
Khiid was originally built between 1727 and 1737 by the Manchu emperor Yongzheng,
and dedicated to the great Mongolian Buddhist and sculptor, Zanabazar, whose
mummified body was moved here in 1779. The monastery is in the Chinese style,
down to the inscriptions, symmetrical layout and imperial color scheme.
The communists found a way out here in the late 1930s, but 'only' destroyed
10 out of the 37 temples and statues, possibly because of sympathetic and
procrastinating local military commanders. The monastery was extensively
restored between 1975 and 1990 with the help of Unesco. These days, around 50
monks live in the monastery, compared to over 2000 in 1936.
The temples in the monastery are normally closed, so you'll have to ask the
head monk to find the keys and open them up if you want to see any statues or
scroll paintings. There are around five halls open to tourists.
The main hall has a life-size statue of Rinpoche Gurdava, a lama from Inner
Mongolia who lived in Tibet and Nepal before returning to Mongolia in 1992 and
raising much of the money for the temple's restoration. It's normally possible
to climb up to the roof for fine views of the valley.
To help with the restoration work, foreigners are charged an entry fee of
3$-5$ and 5$ to take photos inside the temples. Ceremonies start at around 9
PAGES OF THE PICTURE ALBUM. AMARBAYASGALANT MONASTERY