Monasteries and temples in Mongolia


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Khamar Monastery

 

Khamar Monastery was established in the 1820's by famous 19th century Mongolian educator and literary figure Danzanravjaa. The Monastery was an important centre of the Buddhist "red sect", and seat of the Gobiin Dogshin Noyon Khutagt ("Terrible Noble Saint of the Gobi").
An outspoken critic of the society in which he lived, Danzanravjaa fought against the rigid class and gender distinctions of his day. He devoted great efforts to the cause of public education, which he promoted at Khamar Monastery through the establishment of an inclusive public school, theatre, museum and library.
The "Namtar duulakh datsan" (story-singing college), established at Khamar Monastery in the 1830s, is recognized as being Mongolia's first professional theatre. The nearby "Khuukhdiin datsan" (children's college) offered basic and vocation, artistic training for local children, who often went on to become singers and dancers, painters, sculptors, and other artists at the Monastery or in its theatre company, In addition Khamar Monastery included a public library, museum, poetry recital hall, and other facilities, making it an important regional cultural centre, in the words of renowned Mongolian scholar Ts.Damdinsuren: "Khamar Monastery was a perfectly harmonious location, having a river
whit many fine trees along its south part and rocky mountains with dozens of caves along its north; and the place was filled with the noise of hundreds of people playing the famous Saran Khokhoo drama...'
The local public was involved in many religious activities held at the Monastery, including the Tsam dance festival and the Amaagiin Gandoi Ergekh ceremony. Under Danzanravjaa's influence women were especially encouraged to participate in these events; Khamar Monastery was unique in 19th century Mongolia as a place where women were accorded greater respect and privileges than men. Reflecting these liberal attitudes Danzanravjaa composed the song Ulemjiin Chanar (Quality of Greatness) - which remains popular today - in praise of a woman's qualities. To the north of the monastery were a series of caves where monks would practice yogic exercises and meditate in isolation for 108 days at a time, hardening their bodies whilst expanding their physical and spiritual powers. At the rear of the present-day monastery is a well initially dug by Danzanravjaa, whose water is believed to be sacred? Danzanravjaa claimed in his Adistet yosnii sudar (Blessed water sutra) that this water was helpful in curing aliments to the stomach, intestines, bile and liver, and provided special instructions for its drinking and use. Fossilized dinosaur bones, petrified wood, and other rare palaeontological remains are widespread in the area surrounding the monastery. Palaeontologists working in the region have dug up most notably a skeleton of the herbivorous dinosaur iguanodon, which lived in the Cretaceous period between 80 and 200 million years ago, At its peak Khamar Monastery consisted of four main sections - East Khuree, west Khuree, Tsokhon. and Dunkher - comprising four colleges (datsan) and the children's school, more than eighty temples, and a resident population of over five hundred lamas. The monastery was completely destroyed by the military in 1938 during Mongolia's religious purge. Khamar Monastery was re-established in 1990s on the initiative of Zuun-Bayan resident S. Zorigtbaatar and others, with the support of the local religious community. Currently two small ceremonial temples and several religious monuments have been reconstructed, with more than ten lamas now in residence at the monastery. Plans are underway to reconstruct more elements of this historic site in the near future. We hope you may enjoy your visit and support our endeavours to revive this valuable part of Mongolia's heritage.

 

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