Founded in 1727, this classic Tibetan Buddhist monastery has been under protection of the Mongolian government since 1994. Some 150 monks call this place of worship, devotion and study home. And while many similar monasteries across the country were either in ruins or destroyed during communist rule, Gandantegchenling Monastery was somehow spared, making it a place of hope for locals who worship.
Travelers who venture to this vast religious complex will find a massive statue made of copper statue known as Avalokiteśvara that towers all the way to the ceiling in one of the ground’s most-popular structures. A series of colorful prayer wheels and a room for study and worship are among the monastery’s other buildings, but it’s a wooden pillar from the original temple structure that ranks tops among tourists. For locals, the single remaining pillar is a sign of strength, hope, luck and endurance, which makes it a destination Mongolians still to venture to.
Visitors can explore the monastery on their own or hire a guide to help explain more about the Buddhist culture and traditions. It’s possible to wander the grounds alone, or do so as part of a day tour of the city.
The monastery is a good place to spend a couple of hours during a day in Ulaanbaatar, and those in the know say arriving before 9am ensures the opportunity to see and hear monks praying during the early morning.