Buddhist tour
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Traveling in Mongolia gives you a high chance of visiting lots of Buddhists temples and statues. Such monasteries and statues are important tourists’ spots and attract so many visitors, both natives and foreigners every year.  

Buddhism was introduced to Mongolia three times. The first one was in the period of the 6th century from India. The second introduction took place at the beginning of the 13th century. The third one was during the 16th century. For Mongolians, Tibetan Buddhism became a way of unifying people and creating a sense of nationalism in the 16th century.

Mongolia’s Third Buddhist wave, as outlined by Lobsang Tamdrin in The Origins of Dharma in the Hor Regions, refers to the coming of the Dalai Lama School of Tibetan Buddhism to Mongolia in the 1570s, and its adoption by Altan Khan as the national religion of the country.

The Dalai Lama incarnation lineage was not, of course, known by the name “Dalai” at the time. Rather, both at home and abroad he was known as Jey Tamchey Khyenpa, or “The Omniscient Master.” The Third carried the ordination name of Sonam Gyatso. When he arrived in Hohhot, the then southern capital of Mongolia, the king Altan Khan translated the “Gyatso” part of his name in Mongolian. Thus Gyatso became Dalai, and Jey Tamchey Khyenpa became “The Dalai Lama Dorjechang.”

The Third Dalai Lama passed away in Hor in 1588. Not long after his passing a Mongol child was born in the family of Prince Sechen Chokhor, one of Altan Khan’s grandsons. Although he and his wife had both been disciples of the great Third Dalai Lama, they were rather shocked when the State Oracle in Lhasa announced that the Third Dalai Lama’s rebirth had taken place in Mongolia. They were even more shocked a year later when the search team from Lhasa identified their son as that reincarnation. This was the first time that a Dalai Lama was reborn outside of Tibet.

Eventually the child was enthroned as the official reincarnation, and was taken to Kumbum, the monastery in Kokonor that had been built a generation earlier by the Third Dalai Lama on Lama Tsongkhapa’s birthplace. Here the child spent some time learning the Tibetan language, as well as memorizing the basic Buddhist liturgies. He then continued on to Lhasa and his enthronement in Drepung Monastery.

The work of the Third and Fourth Dalai Lamas had a major impact on the enlightenment tradition of Mongolia. The Yellow School quickly became the dominant spiritual force in the country as a result of their inspiring deeds. This school remains the largest spiritual tradition in Mongolia today.

Afterward, Yondonjamts, grandson of Abtai Khan was recognized as a reincarnation of the third Dalai Lama in 1589 and Buddhism quickly became the dominant religion in Mongolia.
The next biggest reason that Buddhism became dominant religion in Mongolia is that Under Gegen Zanabazar became “lama king” of Mongolia, Like the Fourth Dalai Lama, he also was a direct descendant of Chinggis Khaan.

From the 16th century to the 20th century, more than 2,000 monasteries were constructed and almost 40 percent of the male population became celibate monks. Large monasteries had hundreds of monks and schools for art, astronomy, and theater. They regularly organized religious dramas and festivals. Education in Mongolia was managed by Buddhist monasteries and only monks had to access to it.
Buddhist lamas became very influential and powerful. Some lamas were like princes and rich class with serfs. By the 20th century, Buddhism had spread deeply into Mongolian culture.

The Soviet-backed “Modern Mongolia” that emerged in 1921 proved to be a mixed blessing. Less than a decade later Stalin carried Russia into a path of unprecedented mass murder, social repression, and seemingly endless cultural purges, and Mongolia soon fell prey to the same evils. The Mongol regions directly under Russian occupation (Buryatia, Siberia, and Tuva) suffered first, but this soon spread to independent Mongolia.

One rarely meets a Mongol who did not lose several relatives during that period. Known by the somewhat benign term as “The Cultural Purges,” the Communists systematically rounded up all representatives of Mongolia’s pre-Communist period.

Many were murdered with a single bullet through the head, as was done in the Soviet Union. Others suffered an even worse fate, being deported to Soviet concentration camps, where they became guinea pigs in Stalin’s program of chemical experimentation. Two of my best friends in Ulaanbaatar, today prominent members of the new democratic Mongolian government, spoke of how several of their ancestors were arrested, purged, deported and then murdered in these ways.

A small museum in Ulaanbaatar documents some of the most horrific events of these cultural purges, and Mongolians are only now coming to terms with what they lost during that period.

In the recent decade, the Arts Council of Mongolia has documented more than 1,250 monasteries and temples that were destroyed in this way, together with their libraries, art reserves, medical facilities, and other treasures.

Then a rather curious event occurred in 1943. Rumors emerged that the American vice-president Henry Wallace would be visiting Moscow to discuss agricultural aid that the American government had given to the Soviet Union and that he had requested to see Ulan Ude in Buryatia and Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.

Wallace had been a friend and student of Nicholas Roerich, and through Roerich had developed an interest in Mongolia and Mongolian Buddhism.

Stalin, wanting to give the impression that there was religious freedom in the Mongol lands and sent out the order that a monastery should be opened in each of these two cities. A few dozen surviving monks had to be found to fill them.

Thus it came to pass that two monasteries were re-opened in the Mongol territories during the Stalin /Choibalsan era. One of them was Gandan Monastery in Ulaanbaatar and stayed open throughout the remaining five decades of the Communist era as Mongolia’s only monastery.

All other attempts to re-open temples or monasteries were quashed by the Ulaanbaatar government.

Democracy also brought freedom of religion to Mongols. Whereas Ganden was the only monastery allowed during the Communist era, the people were now allowed to rebuild some of what had been destroyed. To date, small replicas of approximately 200 temples have been created across the country. All of them are tiny compared to the originals that were ravaged by the Communists almost seven decades ago, but it is nonetheless a proud beginning. Buddhism had played so large part in the country's history, traditional arts, and culture in the last.

Today 50% of the Mongolians are Buddhists, 39% of the population is not religious, 3% are Muslims, 3% of them are followers of the Mongol shamanic tradition, 2% are Christians, and 0.4% are followers of other religions.

10. Buddha Stone Statue in Dornod province 

Your Eastern Mongolia tour takes you to the Ikh Burkhant complex statues which have 90 meters high Buddha stone statue in Sumber soum, Dornod province /aimag/. The sightseeing was built in 1859-1864 at the initiative of Togtokhtur Bat-Ochir (as called “To” prince) who was the prince of Khalkhiin Setsen Khan aimag/today’s eastern region of Mongolia/. 

After erecting in 1864, the complex was renovated from 1995 to 1997.  

The monument is Janraisag who salvages eight types of dangers and symbols including lion, elephant, snake, fire, water, chain and the human mind. The stone complex was made with stones carried by 1000 carts of the bullock and about 180 craftsmen were required to complete it. You can see 12 stupas and other 20 smaller statues around the Stone Statue. Also, there is some strange stone representing broken faces and stone couple that is hugging each other. It is said that the Stone god was created to protect the eastern border of Mongolia from any danger. Sightseeing up there is quite amazing and you should add this Buddhist place in your eastern Mongolian tour destination.                      
9. Grand Stupa in Khamar Monastery

One of the most spiritual places in the whole of Mongolia is the Energy center in the Khamar monastery. The biggest Mongolian Buddhist stupa is 32 meters high Grand stupa which shapes like Mongolian Ger dwelling in Khamar monastery. 

Khamar Monastery established in the 1820s by the famous 19th century His holiness Danzanravjaa. 

Tour of Mongolian Gobi Desert leads you to the Khamar Monastery. Another big attraction of the monastery is the Energy center also named “World Energy Center” famed in Mongolia as having the strongest spiritual energy convergence in the world and travelers visit from across the country to gain health, wealth, and fertility. 

Besides the monastery itself, popular tour locations to visit are Breast Ovoo, a cave complex used for meditation, and the Wish-fulfilling mount of Bayanzurkh.
There you can see 108 stupas surrounding various monuments such as meditation caves and Danzan Ravjaa statue in Cave.
On entering you are confronted with a large pair of eyes staring out from the side of the Gelugpa Temple of Wisdom, which follows you as you walk around. 
You can feel the power of Spirit and Buddhist rituals through this famous place and should add this Buddhist Spiritual place on your tour Mongolia planning. 

8. Jarun Hashor Stupa in Amarbayasgalant Monastery

There is big legendary stupa named Jarun Hashor which means ‘lost the promise’ in Amarbayasgalant monastery in Buren-khaan mount, Baruunburen sum, Selenge province. 
The statue is also called Eye Stupa and because if the prayers look at the eye on the Stupa, all their sins go away.

Jarun Hashor which means ‘lost the promise’ in Amarbayasgalant monastery. 

You can hear the legendary story of the monastery while on your travel Mongolia. Another famous site that you can find is a 13-meter high Bogd Zonkhoba image with his 2 disciples. You can see 108 stairs reaching to them and have broken 3 times while walking. You should put this legendary historical Buddhist place in your Mongolia travel destinations.

Amarbayasgalant monastery in Buren-khaan mount, Baruunburen sum, Selenge province. 
7. Seated Buddha Statue in Darkhan 

Way to Russian border or famous Amarbayasgalant Monastery can give you shortstop in Darkhan city, Mongolia’s third-largest city. There you can find a big seated Buddha statue near the bridge which connects the two parts of Darkhan. The statue is more commonly visited by locals and becoming famous among tourists. While on your western tours Mongolia, it may give good views to both the old city and the new Darkhan city. Also, you can walk over to Man on horseback playing Morin Khuur /Horse Headed Fiddle/ monument across the suspension bridge. You can have the chance of a big Buddha Statue while visiting and passing through Darkhan city.

6. Golden Buddha Statue in Erdenet city

A new temple, The Huge Golden Buddha Sitting on a Lotus, was built on the eastern side of the Erdenet city in 2011. Erdenet city is the second-largest city of the country and famous for Erdenet Mining Corporation. There you can find 8 stupas, honorable lighthouse, entrance gate, and main temple. 
The main temple houses meditation room, valuable things of religious history and culture, portrays of various gods and more. The Buddha statue is made of 87 tons of pure latten. The statue has been attracting a lot of interest in both local and foreign visitors. There is also another attraction that you may see is Friendship Monument which can be accessed from the same hill. You can catch a good view of the city there and experience local people’s Buddhism.
5. Buddhist Stupa in Demchog Monastery

On your road to the south, there is tallest Buddha Stupa with 20 meters high in Demchog Monastery. Also, there is a temple inside the stupa which can house 50 people entry. Demchog Monastery is located in Khanbogd soum in Umnugobi or South Gobi province, the southern part of Mongolia over 600km far from Ulaanbaatar. 

Danzanravjaa.D, known as Saint Lord of Gobi had built the monastery. 

There are ten white stupas behind the monastery and there is a rock which sheltering them. People believe that wishes they tell to it come true. Close to it, there is the energy center where people gain energy through palms showing towards the sun. There are a number of rocks with various shapes around the monastery. Not only locals but also domestic and foreign tourists believe that the rocks have a positive effect on health and life. It is worth to visit this famous religious Buddhist statue with a great history.

4. Tallest Maitreya Bodhisattva Statue under Construction

Maitreya Bodhisattva will be located at a sacred Buddhist site in the Uguumur Valley known as Heart Hill, just outside of Ulaanbaatar. This complex will be one of the biggest destinations of Mongolian tours once it completed. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and several Rinpoche have provided relics of the Buddha and other holy items, which will be enshrined inside of the statue and a stupa to be constructed nearby.

The completed site will be open to the public free of charge designed as an educational, spiritual, tourism and cultural center.

The complex will also include a temple dedicated to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a meditation pavilion for up to 5,000 people, as well as temples and centers representing Buddhist traditions from around the world, educational facilities, an amphitheater, a cinema, and a hotel. The Buddhist complex will be very special and auspicious for the Mongolian people to build symbols of love and Buddhist centers on this site, as well as to receive teachings here.
Make sure to check this upcoming Buddhist complex in the time of your Mongolia travel.

3. A Buddha statue in the Erdene-Zuu Monastery 

Travel to Mongolia may require you the oldest Buddhist monastery of the country, Erdene Zuu ”Jewel Temple”, was built between 1585 and 1586. The statue and monastery are located one of the must-see places of Mongolian tour destinations in Ovorkhangai province about 20 kilometers northeast Kharkhorin. It is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The Monastery has main, eastern and western temples which include several Buddha statues. The main temple includes Buddha Amitabha (Buddha of Immeasurable Life and light) and Sita Mahakal (Gonggor), Buddha statue in his teenage years is in the eastern temple and Sanjaa (Buddha Dipankara) and Buddha Saryamuni are inside in western temple.
The site offers you not only Buddhist statues but also the history of ancient city Kharkhorin and the beautiful nature of Orkhon valley.
You do not miss this one of the most famous ancient Mongolian Buddhist sites.

2. Big Buddha Statue in Zaisan Square

A viewing platform of Ulaanbaatar city, Zaisan Memorial gives you the chance of visiting 23 meters high Big Buddha Statue right next to it. It is named famous for International Buddha Park which is built in 2006 and also planned to build statues of Buddha around the world. The Buddha Statue is made of material named U-light from Korea which is water and wind persistent over 500 years. The Buddha statue looks through the entire UB city and protects the city from any danger.

All the people to visit Mongolia could see this peaceful garden with Buddha statue and have some fresh air with a view of the city.

1. The Migjid Janraisag statue in Gandan monastery

You can visit this most famous historical and religious center of Mongolia while on your tours Mongolia in UB. The statue is made of valuable metals including copper, silver, gold and many other jewelry stones. The Migjid Janraisag statue which means the Lord who watches every direction was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 1996 after 5 years of work. The statue contains 2286 precious stones, 27 tons of medicinal plants, 334 sutras and 2 million mantras. The monastery is the center of Mongolian religious and Buddhism and includes one of the most famous Buddhist statues in Mongolia. You should put this most famous place of Mongolian Buddhism on your travel Mongolia list.

The name of the tallest indoor Buddhist statue is Mijgid Janraisag with a 26.5 meter high. 

Danshig Naadam Religious Festival 

After traveling some of those Buddhist statues in Mongolia, you may have the opportunity to visit the biggest Mongolian religious festival called Danshig Naadam which first was held in 1639 for enthroning 1st Bogd Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu. The festival usually holds at the beginning of August and offers a variety of cultural performances including traditional folk dance and song, the performance of contortion; wrestling, archery, anklebone shooting and competitions between lamas. The main event of the festival is Tsam which is livelily masked and costumed dance associated with the Buddhist religion. 

In Mongolia, the tsam was first introduced at the beginning of the 18th century from India through Tibet. Also, the first tsam in Mongolia was performed in Erdene-Zuu Monastery in 1786. The main reason of Tsam performance is to subdue and purify external environment, eradicate diseases, suffering, wars, famine, and hardships and spread auspiciousness.
During this Naadam, you can experience true aspects of the Mongolian Buddhist religion with Naadam competition together in one place.

One of the biggest reason for Buddhism spread in Mongolia is that in 1578, Abtai Khan — one of Mongolian most influential military leader invited the high-ranking monk from Tibet. Altan Khan (also known as Abtai Khan) gave the title of Dalai Lama for the first time to that spiritual leader of Tibet. Dalai can be translated as “ocean.” Dalai Lama means "Ocean of Wisdom". Moreover, Avtai Sain Khan ordered to build the Erdene Zuu monastery in Karakorum in 1584.


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