Visit Amarbayasgalant Monastery
The Amarbayasgalant Monastery or "monastery of tranquil felicity", once one of the three largest Buddhist centers in Mongolia is located near the Selenge River in the Iven valley, at the foot of Mount Büren-Khaan in Baruunbüren sum (district) of Selenge Province in northern Mongolia. The architectural design belongs to G. Zanabazar and the monastery itself was built to honor the memory of him. Looking for a site for building, the exploratory group met two boys, Amur and Bayasqulangtu, playing in a steppe, and decided to build the future monastery at that site and name the monastery after those children.
The area of monastery is thick groves of native Mongolian cherries that have attracted people since prehistoric times until the present and are the reason for the association of this valley with theologies of fertility, re-birth, and gardens of paradise. The valley is covered throughout its extent with Turkic-era graves of various geometric shapes marked out in large boulders. These important archaeological features which date from the 3rd-7th centuries are the indication that the valley has long-standing sacred associations for the people of Mongolia, associations which continued uninterrupted into the Buddhist era when the were re-validated by the construction of Amarbayasgalant Monastery on this historic site.
Since then the monastery of the Undur Geghen was a great source of Dharma teaching and accomplishment with over six thousand novices and ordained monks who followed the rules of Lord Buddha`s Vinay a, combining the Three Basket in full harmony with the Three Higher Training.
The beauty, decorations and construction of the monastery have made it one of the most magnificent architectural monuments not only in Mongolia, but in the whole Asia.
The monastery was established by order of Manju emperor Enkh- Amgalan Khan, to cherish and give respect to the Undur Geghen Zanabazar, his skills, wisdom, intellect and accomplishments.
One hundred thousands langs (=3730 kg) of silver from the state fund were used to build a magnificently styled place for Buddha teaching and practice in honor of Zanabazar. After searching for a suitable place, the construction works of the monastery called “Amarbayasgalant‘’, a palace for God`s meditation, began in 1726, and was completed in 1736.
Originally, Amarbayasgalant Monastery consisted of over 40 temples built on the special terrace, surrounded by a wall, measuring 207x175 m. Only 28 temples now remain they have been under State protection since 1944. The monastery has a symmetrical construction. The size of its Tsogchin (Main) temple is 32x32 m. Its construction expresses the planning features of the Mongolian national architecture and engineering solutions are very original. One of the interesting solutions is routing of roof water through the inside of four columns, under the floor, through stone grooves and away from the Tsogchin temple.
It is one of the very few monasteries to have partly escaped the destruction of 1937, after which only the buildings of the central section remained. The entire contents: the tankas, statues, and manuscripts were looted by the Communists or hidden until more fortunate times. Restoration work began in 1988 and some of the new deities were commissioned in Delhi, India. Under Geghen's monastery, Amarbayasgalant was reestablished and nowadays stands strong on its remarkable construction, as on its 300-year history.
Today about sixty novices and ordained monks, who followed precisely the rule of Vinaya, are in residence and practicing Dharma to create great benefit for all sentient beings. The religious mask dancing “Tsam” was highly developed in the Buddhist monasteries of Mongolia in the middle of the 19th century, reflecting the ritual of Secret Tantra, but Tsam was last performed in 1937. In 2002, for the first time in 65 years, the Tsam dance was performed again at Amarbayasgalant.