ERDENE ZUU MONASTERY
Petit Futé's opinion on ERDENE ZUU MONASTERY
If there was only one historic site to visit in Mongolia, it would probably be this one. A rich history, a magnificent complex, a unique decor (especially when the day goes by): you cannot visit Mongolia without having permeated the history and culture of this country in Kharkhorin, especially between these walls. The construction of the monastery began in 1586, following the instructions of Avdaï Healthy Khan, in order to host tangka (silk painting) that had been offered by the Dalai Lama to the great khan of Mongolia. First of all, three temples were erected, and then buildings came to enrich the interior of the enclosure as the generations of monks and great scholars came in successive times. More than 62 large temples were in the monastery of the monastery in 1872, and their number continued to rise until the late 1930 s, when the Soviets practically razed the entire monastery. At the time of its strongest activity, a thousand monks resided in the monastery's enclosure. It had to wait until the early 1990 s and the end of Soviet influence so that monks would again be allowed to reside there.
The presentation below follows the classical order of the visit, entering the enclosure by the south door.
The courtyard of the monastery still includes a few stelas, one of which presents the Mr (national symbol, invented by Zanabazar). Turkish scriptures on one face and writings in Tibetan, Sanskrit and Mongolian on the other side are visible.
The temple of the Dalai Lama. This is the first temple on which one falls, beginning the visit clockwise. Built in 1675, it is covered with brick and gold coloured ceramics. It is made up of small prayer chapels and protected in the north by wooden barriers designed to remove bad spirits.
The three temples of Avdai Healthy Khan. Then we enter a courtyard on the rear of the Dalai Lama's temple. The soil is divided into a multitude of small squares. Each used to be a meditation space for a monk. The three temples are easily recognisable to their typical Chinese architecture. At the bottom of the courtyard on the left is the temple of the west, Baruun Züü. It houses three Buddha statues: Kasyapa (left), Sakyamuni (Buddha at the origin of religion, centre) and Matreya (right).
The main temple, in the completely restored façade, also has three main statues. He is the largest and oldest. It is 15 metres high. The statues represent Amitabba, Sakyamuni and Manal, the Buddha of medicine. The entrance of the temple is framed by two imposing statues of the protective deities of the site, Gombogur Dhrama (left) and Baldanlham (right). Behind them, they are the statues representing the Buddha's disciples. Some masks worn during religious dances (tsam) are also exposed inside this temple.
The temple at the bottom of the courtyard on the right is simply called Züü Temple of the East. It has three statues, those of Aryapala, Sakyamuni and J Zonkhapa, which are recognizable to its yellow cap. It is, moreover, he who is behind this symbol. Finally, the first temple on the right, entering the courtyard, has a mural, several statues of Buddhist deities and tangka.
The golden stupa. Once from the small enclosure of the three temples, we find a little further the gold stupa, built in 1799 in honour of the fourth Bogd Khan. Surrounded by eight small stupa, it is 10,5 metres high and contains 100 000 statues of Buddhas. The graves of Avdaï Healthy Khan and his grandson, Tusheet Khan Gombodorj, are also found in the temple enclosure.
In the east of this Chinese temple is the only temple still active in the monastery. Its architecture is typically Tibetan, such as a labrang. Built in 1760, he served as a residence at the Bogd Khan when he went to Erdene Züü. Only the ground floor, which offers a small prayer room, is accessible. The upper part, dedicated to Mahâkala, is closed to visitors.
There are some traces of the impressive pre-filled (or quartile) that had been installed in the heart of the enclosure in 1657 by Zanabazar. Called Bat Ulziit, this pre-filled 45 meters in diameter and about 15 metres high. It required 35 removable walls and 1 700 roof poles! Subsequently, it was moved, and its first location was converted into stage for tsam ceremonies. We can see today the location of the 7 posts on the original eight.
Prayer for prayers. In the middle of the monastery you will find a yurt where Buddhist monks pray for the public. You can, against a symbolic contribution, order them a prayer. Just give your first name and the monk will make a prayer for you in Tibetan. You can ask that they brought you luck, happiness, love, money… It lasts on average 5 minutes and you will hear your name regularly in a religious song in Tibetan. We personally asked for a prayer to be lucky during our mission… So we believe it, or we don't believe it, but for us it worked! Practicing Buddhists will be able to pray in the active temple on site.
The enclosure is bounded by a white wall of 108 stupa. Measuring 400 metres on side and forming a square, this wall was raised over a century after the original monastery. Its construction began around 1730 to complete in 1808.
Information on ERDENE ZUU MONASTERY
Input: 3,000 T. Add 25,000 T for a video. Open from May to September, from 9am to 6pm and from 9am to 5pm from October 1st to April 1st (closed on weekends). The reception is located in the building on the left when entering the temple grounds. It is sometimes possible to enter free of charge after closing time, on Sundays or in winter, the site still remaining open (but the temples are already closed). This is the opportunity to come back a second time, after a visit, for some memorable photos on the site.