World Buildings

Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery

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This temple in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is, thankfully, also known as the Gandan Monastery. That's much less of a mouthfull, and easier to write, but doesn't have the same impact as the original.

Ulaanbaatar! The capital of Mongolia, also known as Outer Mongolia, is a place that's relatively new, considering the reach of the Mongolian empire. When the Soviet Union withdrew funding from Mongolia, the country suffered terribly, bringing poverty to Ulaanbaatar in a serious way.

Through it all, the good times and bad, the Gandan Monastery has been steadfast, bringing the light of Tibetan Buddhism to the people of Mongolia, offering them some comfort in a US-led world that grew to despise Communism.

Through the rule of the Communist Party, the monastery was not allowed to act in an official manner until the Communists left in 1990, allowing the monks to open the doors to the public, allowing the light of worship to shine bright on the endless grassy plains of the country.

Perhaps the most unique feature of the monastery:

"It features a 26.5-meter-high statue of Migjid Janraisig, a Buddhist bodhisattva also known as Avalokitesvara."

It was originally built out of copper, but the Communist army dismantled the statue, not enamoured with the idea of worshipping a Buddhist holy figure... when the statue was remade, worshippers adorned it with jewels and gold, making it the perfect location for a heist movie.
Travel and Culture