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Originally situated in the center of Ulaanbaatar, Gandan Monastery was moved to its present location by the 5th Bogd Jebzundamba in 1838.
Over the next century the Monastery grew to include nine datsans or institutes, a library and housed a community of around 5000 monks. Gandan became an important center for learning and practicing Buddha's teachings, hot only in Mongolia but for the entire Mahayana Buddhist community.


Small mobile monasteries functioned in Mongolia, and in 1838 the Gandantegchinlen monastery was founded as the religious center of Sutra-Tantra Buddhism at the site of Dalkha hill. It grew into a complex of colleges including a college of basic Buddhist teachings, departments of Astrology and Medicine, and as such was the largest center of the Mongolian Buddhism.

The first temple of the Monastery was built at the initiative of the Mongolian living Buddha, the Fifth Incarnation Bogdo, Chultem-Jigmid-Dambijantsan. It was constructed by Mongolian masters and made mostly of wood and earth following Mongolian national architectural designs, with gold plated roofes and topmost Buddhist symbolic - decorations. Many of the Boddhisattyas statues and images established in Gandan temple are of significance. In the temple there are a bronze statue of the Lofty Noble Rimpoche Dzanabazar - the Mongolian living Buddha of the First Incarnation sculpted by himself at the behest of his mother; the collection of the Buddha's fundamental teachings, the Tripitaka (Gangiur) in 108 volumes; the silver statue of the famous Tsong (Khapa) of Amdo made in XVI century in Western Oirat Mongolia.

Vajra-Tara temple was built in 1840-1841, of stone and brick with ceramic rooves and goldplated decorations. The main altar in this temple is the Vajra Tara's statue crafted by the lofty Noble Rimpoche Dzanabazar in 1683. The main altar of Dzu temple is a statue of the standing Buddha with his two disciples, made in Dolon Nuur, Inner Mongolia, in the early XIX century.


The two storey building "Didinpovran" was built as a library for the Fifth Incarnation of the Mongolian living Buddha, Chultem-Jigmid-Dambijantsan, with ceramic rooves and goldplated topmost decorations. The fifth building now serves as the library of the Gandantegchinlen monastery, containing over 50,000 books.

Additionally the temples house the "Eight Noble Decorations", "Damdin Choijil", images of Mahayana, Hinayana Lord and Bodhisattyas and sixteen arhats crafted by Mongolian, Tibetan and Indian artists, embroidery, masterpiece images of Bodhisattvas made by Mongolian women artists as well as a number of satirical and humorous feature drawings.

In 1938, the communists suppressed religious communities in Mongolia. They destroyed around 900 monasteries, though a 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 1944 after a petition from several monks, Gandan Monastery was reopened but its functions were carried out under the strict supervision of the socialist government.

In 1990, after the Democratic Revolution and with Buddhism flourishing once more, Gandan Monastery embarked on an ambitious restoration program around the country.


There are currently 10 datsans and temples operating at Gandan Monastery, and approximately 900 monks.

The souvenir shop, to the left as you enter the main southern gate of the monastery, sells non-touristy religious artefacts, including miniature copper bowls, incense and scroll paintings, as well as items like Mongolian felt hats.

You can take photographs around the monastery, but not inside the temples. The monastery, at the end of Ondor Geegen Zanabazaryn Gudamj, is open from about 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and there is no entrance fee. Try to be there for the captivating ceremonies - they usually start at around 10 a.m., though you may be lucky and see one at another time. Most chapels are closed in the afternoon.


Along the left wall are the 108 volumes of the Kanguir, penned in the 14th century by Mongolian masters in gold ink on black paper.

In the central glass case at the back is a large statue of the Buddha made by Mongolian lamas in 1956 to celebrate the 2500 anniversary of the Buddha's death.

In another case is a self-portriat of Zanabazar, the first Jebzundamba of Mongolia, made in the 1680s at his mother's request. It is surrounded by small statues of the seven subsequent Jebzundam Along the right wall are gold-plated statues of the Bodhisa: Amitayus, the Bodhisattva of Longevity.



On the main altar is a statue of Vajradhara, a Buddha from Tantric practice, made by Zanabazar in 1683. The temple is made of earth and brick and the top decoration is gilded gold. Daily service is performed at this temple.


This temple was built at the beginning of the 1900s. The 13th Dalai Lama lived here in 1904. The temple is made of earth and brick.


This building originally housed the remains of the Mongolian Bogd Lamas. Later, when Gandan Monastery was reopened it became a library. The library contains approximately one million sutras in Mongolian, Tibetan and Sanskrit. There are also some surgical instruments from the 16
century kept here.



This imposing building, which has become a symbol of independence for the Mongolians, is a temple for the veneration of Janraisig (Chenresig in Tibetan), the Bodhisattva of Compassion. It was built in 1911 at the time of Bogd Khan, the 8th Jebzundamba (Mongolia's last reincarnate spiritual and temporal ruler). The original statue was destroyed by the communists in 1938. The current statue was completed in 1996 with the generous donations of Buddhist devotees. The Janraisig statue stands 26.5 metres. It is made of copper from Erdenet Mine and is gilded in gold.



Originally in the centre of Ulaanbaatar, this Datsan was rebuilt at Gandan in 1992. On the throne is a portrait of the Bogd Khan. Every spring the Datsan holds the Kalachakra ritual.

Construction of this Datsan was begun in 1800 after the fourth Bogd Jetsundamba visited Baruun Zuu Kalachakra Monastery in Tibet and witnessed the Kalachakra Initiation performed by Lkhoh Jalsrai Gegeen. The Bogd opened the Dechen Galpa Datsan in 1801 and it operated until its closure in 1937. In 1961 a Kalachakra ceremony was held for the first time since Dechen Galpa closed at one of Gandantegchenling Monastery's temples once a year. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama performed the Kalchakra Initiation at Varanasi in India in 1990 he declared that the next Kalachakra Initaition would be held in Mongolia at Gandantegchenling Monastery. Mongolians immediately started preparations and began reconstruction of the Dechen Galba Datsan. Before the initiation in 1995, Tibetan teachers visited to instruct how to make a sand mandala. In the summer of that year. His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited and j performed the Kalachakra Initiation. Since that time, the Datsan chants the Kalachakra Ritual every year on the fifteenth of the last month of spring of tl Lunar Calendar.



This Datsan was established by the 8th Bogd Jebzundamba. Its practices were based on the works of Tibetan scholar Sera Jebzunpa. The Datsan was destroyed in 1938. Former disciples Ven. Tserendemchig and Ven. Naidan wished to restore their home datsan
and had it re-opened in 1990. The new temple was opened in 2004.


This Datsan was established by the 2nd Bogd Jebzundamba and Manjusri Khutagtu in 1756 but was destroyed in 1938. The Datsan was restored in 1990 and the temple was completed in 1994.


This Datsan was established by the 4th Bogd Jetsundamba in 1809 and followed Tibetan scholar Panchen Sonamdagva's works for training and practice. The datsan trained three thousand monks including the Mongolian scholars Agvanrinchen, Darp Pandita and Zava Damdin Gavju. The Datsan was revived in 1990 and began training new disciples. Presently many monks practice and study at Ciungaachoiling.


The Mongolian Buddhist University of Mongolia was established in 1970. The University combines modern education with traditional teaching methods. Four year Bachelor's Degree programs are offered and currently there are two departments: The Department of Internal Sciences which includes majors in Buddhist Philosophy and Chanting; The Department of Common Knowledge which includes Tibetan, Sanskrit and English language majors as well as a Traditional Medicine and Astrology major.


The Datsan was built in 1745 by the Second Bogd Jebzundamba. The Datsan holds reciting and chanting puja (worship). In 1938, activity at the Datsan was stopped in 1938. The Datsan was reopened in 2002 and is now located at Geser Temple, just east of Gandan.


The College's main role was to tell fortunes; predicting specific days and months and their possible harmful or helpful impacts. Traditional medicine physicians would test and treat patients' health.


In 1739 this Datsan was built and established by the Second Bogd Jebzundamba. Activity at the Datsan was shut down in 1938. 50 years later in 1998, the Datsan revived its practices and now holds Tantric services and chanting rituals.

The Sacred Object of State and the People:

By D.Davaasuren

In the twentieth century, Mongolia twice established a sacred state icon. In 1911, the national independence movement led to the creation of the independent kingdom ruled by the Bogd Khaan. The first Migjid Janraisig statue, standing 80 tokhoi high (a tokhoi is approximately 40 centimetres) was installed in 1913 as the symbol of Mongolian independence. Twenty-four years later this statue was destroyed in the political and religious purges.

After the democratic revolution of 1990, the constitution of the democratic country of Mongolia inter alia guaranteed every individual the right of freedom of worship. Symbolically, in 1996 a sacred image representing the state and the people, the Migjid Janraisig, was re-erected on the site of the original, and the tenth anniversary of this was celebrated in October 3-27. As a part of the anniversary celebration, the Gandantegchinlen Monastery ran a number of events, mostly focused on action in the public, humanitarian, cultural and educational fields.

The erection, twice, of the Migjid Janraisig was to give a clear understanding to the people of loving kindness, a key to securing and consolidating independence, sovereignty and freedom. Both the state and the public attach great symbolic and actual significance and importance to this statue.

The Migjid Janraisig is a bodhisattva, a core embodiment of the Buddhist loving kindness. A bodhisattva is one who generates or has generated great compassion for the sake of all sentient beings. "I will achieve enlightenment and show the way for all sentient beings to eradicate suffering."

It is believed that a better world, free from all forms of violence and war, will be established only through mutual understanding and friendly co-operation at national and international levels. This is the same concept as the Lord Buddha's discourse: "Based on mutual respect with a non-discriminatory attitude of great compassion, peace will prevail throughout the world." The embodiment of this profound concept is Mongolia's Migjid Janraisig.

Rebuilding the Migjid Janraisig in Mongolia was an announcement to the world today that Mongolia is a Buddhist country, always ready to co-operate to establish and preserve world peace.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama says, "I am not spreading Buddhism but I am spreading humanity." Wherever Buddhism spreads, humani-tarianism will increase.

Migjid Janraising Statue. A 25m gold and bronze statue of Avalokites-vara (Janraisig), built by the Bogd Khaan in 1911, once stood in the main temple at Gandan Khiid. The magnificent statue was destroyed by the communists in 1937, and the metal taken to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and melted down to make bullets.

In October 1996, after nearly five years of work, a new statue called Migjid Janraisig (which means 'The Lord Who Looks in Every Direction') was finally consecrated by the Dalai Lama. The 25m high, 20-ton statue is made from copper, gilded with gold donated from Nepal and Japan and covered in gold brocade and over 500m of silk. The statue contains precious stones, 27 tonnes of medicinal herbs, 334 sutras, two million bundles of mantras and, in the base, an entire ger, plus furniture!

Photo. Centre of Mongolian Buddhists Gandantegchenling Monastery (Gandan monastery).

Photo. Centre of Mongolian Buddhists Gandantegchenling Monastery (Gandan monastery).

Photo. Centre of Mongolian Buddhists Gandantegchenling Monastery (Gandan monastery).

Photo. Centre of Mongolian Buddhists Gandantegchenling Monastery (Gandan monastery).

Photo. Centre of Mongolian Buddhists Gandantegchenling Monastery (Gandan monastery).

Photo. Centre of Mongolian Buddhists Gandantegchenling Monastery (Gandan monastery).

Photo. Centre of Mongolian Buddhists Gandantegchenling Monastery (Gandan monastery).

Photo. Centre of Mongolian Buddhists Gandantegchenling Monastery (Gandan monastery).

More pictures see in pages photo album




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