Gandantegchinlen monastery is a Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. It is the largest monastery in the world, and was built in 1876. The monastery is dedicated to Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of compassion.
The Gandantegchinlen monastery is a popular tourist attraction, and tourists can listen to monks beat their gongs in the towers overlooking the complex while touring the buildings and grounds, or take part in religious activities. When most of the seats are taken inside, don’t be shocked – locals visit here frequently to have their difficulties and issues addressed.
The monks of Gandan Monastery have broadcast the chants on a regular basis as a Facebook live on their page, so you may be part of the daily routines even if you’re not in Ulaanbaatar.
The monastery also houses a museum, which contains a collection of Buddhist artifacts.
Gandan monastery facts
- Gandantegchilen is derived from Gandantegchelen, which means “A land of perfect happiness.” It was given this name by Zanabazar, the first incarnation of the living Buddha.
- The monastery consists of six temples, which were designated as State Protected Monuments in 1994.
- The buildings of the monastery were built in a mix of Mongolian, Mongolian-Chinese, and Sino-Tibetan styles. The materials used include wood, stone, brick, and various blue-glazed pottery.
- At the temple’s west end, there is the world’s tallest indoor statue, a magnificent 26.5-meter tall gold leaf and gemstone coated Avalokiteśvara designed to represent the 8th Jebtsundamba, also known as Bogd Khan, who had claimed the title of Emperor of Mongolia.
- Founded in 1838, Gandantegchinlen Monastery was one of the only ancient Buddhist monasteries to survive Soviet rule in Mongolia.
- The 13th Dalai Lama lived here back in 1904.
When was the Gandantegchinlen Monastery built?
The first temple of Gandantekchilen Monastery was established in 1809 on the Dalkh Terrace under the name Shar Temple.
The first monastery was erected under the supervision of the 5th Jebtsundamba Khutuktu in 1809. Only one wooden pillar from the first temple, The Gungaachoilin Datsan, remained till today.
The remaining temples were constructed from 1809 to 1925.
However, under the rule of Khorloogiin Choibalsan and under the sway of Joseph Stalin, the Communist regime in Mongolia between 1933 and 1990 destroyed all but a few monasteries and murdered more than 15,000 monks.
After being spared from the general devastation, Gandantegchinlen Khiid monastery was shut down in 1938 and reopened in 1944 as the sole functioning Buddhist temple under a skeleton staff as a symbol of respect to traditional Mongolian culture and religion. With the fall of Marxism in Mongolia in 1990, worship regulations were relaxed.
Is Mongolia a Buddhist country?
Buddhism is the most popular religion in Mongolia, and it has incorporated many Tibetan Buddhist practices into its contemporary beliefs. It nevertheless maintains a clear identity and distinguishes itself through distinctiveness.
What do Buddhist monks do all day?
Monks at Gandantegchinlen monastery spend their days praying, chanting, and studying Buddhist texts. They also perform manual labor to maintain the monastery grounds.
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