(ASRI 2024) Journey to promote Records in Asia - P03 - Erdene Zuu Monastery: Mongolia's Oldest Surviving Buddhist Heritage


(Worldkings.org) Erdene Zuu Monastery, meaning "Hundred Treasures", is probably the oldest surviving Buddhist monastery in Mongolia. Located in Övörkhangai Province, approximately 2 km northeast from the center of Kharkhorin and adjacent to the ancient city of Karakorum, it is part of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site.



Erdene Zuu Monastery was ordered to be built by Abtai Sain Khan, ruler of the Khalkha Mongols and grandfather of Zanabazar, the first Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, in 1585 after his meeting with the 3rd Dalai Lama and the declaration of Tibetan Buddhism as the state religion of Mongolia. Stones from the nearby ruins of the ancient Mongol capital of Karakorum were used in its construction.



Temple at Erdene Zuu monastery

Initially, architects attempted to create a surrounding wall that resembled a Tibetan Buddhist rosary featuring 108 stupas (108 being a sacred number in Buddhism), but this objective was probably never achieved. The monastery's temple walls were painted, and the Chinese-style roof was covered with green tiles.

In 1939, the communist leader Khorloogiin Choibalsan ordered the monastery destroyed as part of a purge. Three small temples and the external wall with the stupas survived the initial onslaught. By 1944, Joseph Stalin pressured Choibalsan to maintain the monastery (along with Gandantegchinlen Monastery in Ulaanbaatar) as a showpiece for international visitors, such as U.S. Vice President Henry Wallace, to prove that the communist regime allowed freedom of religion. In 1947, the temples were converted into museums and for the four decades that followed Gandantegchinlen Khiid Monastery became Mongolia's only functioning monastery.


Erdene Zuu Monastery from outside


After the fall of communism in Mongolia in 1990, the monastery was turned over to the lamas and Erdene Zuu once again became a place of worship. Today, Erdene Zuu remains an active Buddhist monastery as well as a museum open to tourists.

Erdene Zuu

Erdene Zuu Monastery is not only an important cultural heritage of Mongolia but also a symbol of the resilience and adaptability of Buddhism in the country's turbulent history. It continues to be an attractive destination for tourists and Buddhist devotees from around the world.


According to Internet

Josephine (Collect & Edit) - WORLDKINGS (Source of photos: Internet)


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