For Mongolian Buddhists Gandan Monastery is like Lourdes for Catholics. It was established in XIX century and served as a tomb for numerous Jebtsundambas, spiritual and civil leaders of Mongolia, also known as living buddhas. But even possessing such title finally they had to leave our world. As well as majority of lamas living here in 30s.
Mongolian romance with USSR under Stalin rule cost 15 thousands of lives among Buddhist monks. At that time most of the temples in the country were demolished. But Gandan fortunately was one of a few, that remained till our times.
Currently in the monastery lives around 150 lamas. It’s the greatest (literally) attraction is 27-meter high statue of Bogd Khan, the last Mongolian Jebtsundamba, whose Winter Palace you can also visit in Ulaanbaatar. The statue that you can see now inside the temple is just a replica made in 1996. The original was melted by Russians during early years of Soviet Union.
Copy or not copy, it does not matter — it’s the greatest statue in the world placed under the roof. That’s not the only one the greatest in the world statue, that Mongolians erected. They seem to like that sport.
What’s also worth to see is the eldest yurt district in Ulaanbaatar, that stretches from Gandan Monastery to the north. But be careful to hang around there, especially after down.
Have you already been there? How was it?