- Place or Religious Monument
Built between 1727 and 1736, this monastery is one of the few to have survived, in part, Stalin's purges. It was initially built to house the remains of Mongolia's first head of Tibetan Buddhism, Öndör Gegeen Zanabazar. Later, in its heyday, the monastery was home to up to 8,000 monks.
Visiting temples has always interested me, but this one had something extra special about it. It felt somehow strange and unreal seeing the monastery standing there, isolated in a valley amidst the deserted steppes. I found the whole to be truly harmonious, and I also got to see some interesting statues and Buddhist thangka paintings here, despite the fact that many were looted by the communists during the purges.
Unusually for Mongolia, this building displays great architectural homogeneity: the overall style is Chinese, but with Mongolian and Tibetan features have been tastefully incorporated.