A one-day overview of Mongolia’s religious history
Join us for a day-long tour of Ulaanbaatar’s main religious sites and learn about the history of Buddhism in Mongolia. On this study tour, we will visit the Zanazabar Art Museum, the still-active Gandan monastery, and the Choijin Lama Temple Museum. All tours will be done by walking in the city center and are most suited for small groups and individuals.
The Zanazabar Art Museum
The Fine Arts G. Zanabazar Museum was established in 1966 and named after the Buddhist teacher, G. Zanabazar (1635 – 1724). It contains items that reflect the rich cultural history of Mongolia from earliest times until the early twentieth century. The museum is renowned for the works of G. Zanabazar (1635-1724), which include the statues of Sita Tara, the Five Dhyani Buddhas, and the Bodhi Stupa.
Gandan is Mongolia’s largest functioning monastery and also houses the Mongolian Buddhist University. The highlight of any visit to Gandan is a 26-meter-high majestic gilded indoor statue of Megjid Janraisig.
The first temple of Gandan Monastery was established in 1835 by the order of 5th Jebtsundamba, the highest reincarnated lama of Mongolia. At the beginning of the 20th century, Gandantegchinleng Monastery was the center of Buddhist learning in Mongolia. In 1938, the communists forcibly suppressed religious communities in Mongolia. Five buildings of the Gandan monastery were destroyed. The remaining buildings were used to accommodate Russian officials or used as barns to keep their horses. After the democratic revolution in 1990, Buddhism regained its full right to worship and the Gandan monastery was reinstated as an active site of worship.
Choijin Lama Temple Museum
The complex includes four temples originally dedicated to the brother of the ruler Bogd Khan, Choijin Lama Luvsankhaidav, who was the state oracle at the time. Construction of the monastery commenced in 1904 and was completed four years later. It’s considered as one of the most beautiful monasteries of Mongolia. It ceased to operate as a place of worship in 1938 during the Communist political purges and turned into a museum in 1942. It was restored in 1960-1961. The museum contains precious examples of Buddhist art including paintings by Zanabazar as well as colorful masks for the Tsam Dance ceremony embroidered with corals, rare bronze statues of gods in erotic poses, silk tankas and many other artifacts.
The price of the Ulaanbaatar Study Tour is 130 USD for one person. For two persons, the price will be 100 USD per person. For groups of 3 persons or more, the price will be 85 USD per person.
The walk takes you first to the Gandan monastery, where you’ll learn about the historical introduction of Buddhism in Mongolia.
We will then continue to the Zanabazar Art Museum to learn about the different sects of Buddhism and their respective beliefs.
After lunch at vegetarian restaurant Luna Blanca, we will continue to the Choijin Lama Temple Museum where you will be able to admire the unique architecture of this temple.
The tour ends with a Mongolian traditional folk concert at the Tumen Ekh assembly.