Monasteries and temples in Mongolia

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Gandan Monastery


Most Buddhist Monasteries in Mongolia were destroyed during the communist regime, which lasted until 1990. One of the only to survive was Gandan Monastery, being used as a showcase for visitors. It's official name is Gandantegchinleng Khiid, or in Mongolian script: Ugy;gymtuxnylty Hna; ( to download Mongol font  click here ). This name signifies something like Great Place of Complete Joy or Great Way to the Cosmos. Literally it can be translated as:

    - Gan = rejoyce

    - Dan = perfect

    - Teg = vehicle > Tegchin = Mahayna (Greater Vehicle)

    - Leng = island

Which would result in Mahayana Island of Perfect Rejoice, with Island being a generally used metaphor for monastery.

Gandan is the largest and most important monastery of Mongolia, with over 400 monks.

The Main Temple or Magjid Janraisig Süm.


Inside is a statue of Magjid Janraisig (the lord who looks in every direction). It is about 25 meters tall and is covered by a huge number of precious stones. Notice someone going round the stupa on the right.

Entrance to one of the compounds

The official name Gandantegchinlen Khiid, (Ugy;gymtuxnylty Hna;) translates into Mahayana Island of Perfect Rejoice, with Island being a generally used metaphor for monastery.



The first temple of Gandantegchinleng Monastery was established in 1835 by the Fifth Jebtsundamba, the highest reincarnated lama of Mongolia. In the following years temples for daily service, veneration of Avalokiteshvara and colleges of Buddhist philosophy, medicine, astrology and tantric ritual were established. In the beginning of the 20th century Gandantegchinleng Monastery was the centre of Buddhist learning in Mongolia. Many prominent Buddhist scholars in Mongolia as well as in Buddhist world were educated and trained by its various colleges and their works on Buddhist philosophy, linguistics, medicine, astrology and tantric practice became the most authoritative and accurate Buddhist texts.

During 30s the socialist government adopted a policy of banning all religious activities in Mongolia. As a consequence all monasteries were closed and monks were executed, jailed and disrobed all over Mongolia. In 1938, Gandantegchinleng Monastery was closed, but reopened in 1944 as the only functioning monastery during the socialist regime. After the democratic change took place in 1990 Buddhism regained its full right of worship. Gandantegchinleng Monastery has, as being the Centre of Mongolian Buddhists, been striving to propagate peaceful teaching of Lord Buddha among family and society. In the whole country 140 monasteries and temples have been (re)established and many sacred statues were reconstructed so far.

The Present-day Monastery

Currently Gandantegchinleng Monastery has over 400 monks; a Mongolian Buddhist University (established in 1970); three colleges of Buddhist philosophy; a Medical and Astrological College; a Kalachakra temple; a Jud Tantric College and an Avalokiteshvara (Migjid Janraisig) temple.
The monastery complex consists of Zanabazar Buddhist University, three temples for Buddhist service and veneration of Avalokiteshvara, three Buddhist Colleges of Buddhist Philosophy, College of Medicine and Astrology and two Tantric College. The brief introduction of above mentioned temples and colleges are given in the below.

The Zanabazar Buddhist University was founded in 1970 and concentrates on Buddhist Studies and Indo-Tibetan Studies. Not only Mongolian students from all over Mongolia but also foreign students study in Zanabazar Buddhist University.


  1. Gandan temple is the first temple in Gandantegchinleng Monastery and was established in 1835. Grand services take place in this temple.
  2. Vajrapani temple was established in 1940 and daily services are performed here.
  3. Avalokiteshvara temple was built in 1912 and the icon of this temple is the Boddhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Migjid Janraisig) with a height of 26,5 metre that was rebuild in 1996 under the leadership of current Prime-Minister Enkhbayar.

Colleges of Buddhist Philosophy

  1. Dashchoimphel was established by II Jebtsundamba and follows the tenet of Gunchen Jamyan Shadba, Tibetan monk scholar of Gelugpa tradition.
  2. Gungaachoiling was established in 1809 and follows the tenet of Banchen Sodnamdagva.
  3. Idgaachoinzinling was established in 1910 and follows the tenet of Sera Jebtsunba.
  4. College of Medicine and Astrology trains students in Mongolian traditional medicine and astrology.
  5. Jud Tantric College and Kalachakra Tantric College prepare students in Buddhist tantric ritual as well as knowledge of tantric practice.



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