HIDDEN PLACES

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It's’s amazing how you can feel like an explorer when you find beautiful ancient temples, like hidden pearls in the streets full of luxury brand stores and skyscrapers on which flashy national and international corporate logos are advertised. Here it is, contemporary Ulaanbaatar: treasuring its ancient and fresh memories.

Ancient monasteries and temples amongst the high-rise buildings soaring into the sky express the desire of mankind of contemporary Ulaanbaatar are hidden gems.

Wherever there is Sangha

There,

the Dharma will flourish

One of the most important projects of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition in Mongolia was the re-establishment of the Dolma Ling Nunnery in 2001 by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who is the Spiritual Director of FPMT Mongolia. It was one of his contributions in the revival of Buddhism in Mongolia.

The Dolma Ling Nunnery eventually became the permanent home for a small group of dedicated women who were ordained by the Abbot of Sera Je Monastery. Presently, the Dolma Ling Nunnery and its nuns are the only community of ordained women in Mongolia.

Historically, the original temple buildings were a present to the Mongolians from the Manchu Emperor. The fifteen temples were surrounded by triple walls and beautifully decorated in the architecture of the time. For many years, with the temple walls, Dharma activities were often performed until the 1930's when the buildings were desecrated in the storm of Communist religious destruction that plagued Mongolia.

In the early 1990's when Mongolia quietly reclaimed democracy, the right to follow one's own spiritual and religious path was guaranteed by the new Constitutional Law. As a result, Lama O.Sodnom, disciple of the Gandantegcheling Monastery together with his disciple Badamkhand, began Dharma activities in of the badly damaged temple buildings.

In the spring of 2001, Lama O.Sodnom and Badamkhand offered the remaining temple and the grounds to Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The 16 newly ordained Getsulma nuns took up residence and have remained along with two senior Tibetan nuns from Kopan Monastery in Nepal. The Mongolian nuns study Tibetan language, Buddhist philosophy and perform many daily rituals and pujas. In addition, one Mongolian nuns now studies at Kopan Monastery to intensify her studies.

Sadly, essential Buddhist study materials in the Mongolian language continues to be sorely lacking. Despite the many additional hardships, these dedicated new nuns embrace these challenges, understanding that they are the pioneering generation of female Dharma practioners in the newly liberated Mongolia.

Indeed young Anis are at the very core of Mongolia's restoration of Buddhism. Their studies and practices will be passed on to a growing number of Mongolian Dharma lay practioners. Moreover, they are the future teachers for the next generation of Getsulmas.

Twin pillars, blessed by White and Green Taras

Two, 11 meter high granite stone pillars from XVIII century remain at Dolma Ling Nunnery. Beautifully carved forms of human, animals and Buddhist scripts adorn the pillars. They are unique in that there are no other cultural monuments of their kind in Mongolia and are therefore protected by the Mongolian Government as a heritage sight.

On the right pillar the script 'I will liberate all sentient beings of many worlds from temporary pain and suffer' is carved. On the left pillar 'I will save the ten thousands of sentient beings by the great compassion' can be read.

Nuns and visitors alike circumambulate and make prostrations to these White and Green Tara blessed pillars.

The Dolma Ling Nuns perform the Tara Puja on the 8th day of each Tibetan calendar month. They recite the Tara Praises 108 times. An extensive Medicine Buddha Puja is performed on the 15th Lama Chopa is performed on the 10th and 25th. In addition many different prayers and texts are performed on request between 9am and 8pm.

Address: Dolmaling Nunnery, 12th horoo, Bayanzurkh district, Ulaanbaatar.

Tel: +976-90157706, +976-90279465.

The Choijin Lama Temple Museum presents a fascinating showcase of religious objects of Choijin Lama Luvsankhaidav, who was the state oracle of Mongolia in the early 20th century. The museum contains five temples which are each uniquely decorated to reflect their original designs.

In the early 1900s, between 1904 and 1908, the architectural, sculptural, and painting assembly complex, the Temple of Choijin Lama, was built in dedication to Governor Choijin Luvsankhaidav. The layout, designed and administrated by craftsman Lama Ombyn of Khuree, embodied the artistic minds and skills of approximately 300 of Mongolia’s finest craftsmen gathered from every province of the nation. The temple, also popularly known among devotees as the “Temple of Governor Choijin Luvsankhaidav” and “Secret Tantric Temple”, included 50 conferential monks, 5 temples, and 3 Jasaa.

It actively operated until the 1937 communist purge, when the temple was sealed and its monks were disseminated. However, it was not demolished. At the time, the state was run by Governor H.Choibalsan, as he was a young, ambitious learner of Buddhist studies. It is said that the last Choijin Temple of the state was not disrupted due to the governor’s preparation to become a Choijin Lama. Although it was only a rumor of speculation, nomads believe in the historical account. In this museum of valuable idiosyncratic creations of Mongolian history, religion, culture, architecture, and artistic vision and skill, customary research and restoration take place.

If you decide to visit the temple museum, be sure to dress warmly. There is no heating system in the buildings throughout the four seasons. The temperature is controlled according to the cold climate to preserve the precious creations of long ago. If you consider coming on this journey to the land of nomadic religion, we promise you will experience works of art and unravel secrets at this magical place. Apart from experiencing the mounted displays in natural light during the hot summer season of July, you will have the honor of enjoying an exquisite ethnic concert as well.

 

This is where the willpower of visitors, wisdom of hosts, and the beauty of Mother Nature meet. If you have a little time to travel 100 kilometers away from the city, we recommend you visit and see Aglag Temple. Traveling there is not difficult, there’s a paved road between the temple and the city. Here you can see how the creations of Mother Nature have been revitalized through the artistry and wisdom of craftsmen, and how they have blended together so well in the masterpieces on display. Talented monks have sculpted mythical spirits and deities out of natural objects. Some unusual creatures live here, such as four-horned sheep, which will make you wonder if it’s a genetic mutation or a uniqueness crafted and gifted by Mother Nature. There’s a rock shaped like an armchair next to a fir tree with a sign saying “Khurden Gishuunt Mod”. Watch the beauty of the sun setting and rising from the rock. It’s amazing how the one and only sun sets and rises in different ways in each country around the world.

Manjusri is the “Bodhisattva who guards the transcendence of wisdom”. Manjusri Monastery was established on the side of Bogd Khan Mountain in 1733, under the order of Monk Luvsanjambaldanzan, the first Manjusri incarnation. These monasteries were so in harmony with the beauty of the surrounding landscape, that they were widely known as “Northern Utai of Khalkh Mongol”. By the dawn of the 20th century, the monastery was among the major monasteries with a wide influence, had 500 monks, and held the right to honor the rank of gavj and agramba. Remains of the monastery are now preserved as a museum. Outside the entrance of the museum there is a big cauldron for jas (treasury and catering unit of religious organizations) which Jalbuu, the blacksmith, made with his brothers in 1726. This cauldron, capable of cooking for a thousand people at a time, has a volume of 1,800 liters, is 140 centimeters in depth, and its circumference is 215 centimeters. The pot weighs 2 tons. Four carts of wood were used to boil two fully grown bulls or the more than 10 sheep needed to feed a thousand people.

According to legend, the golden crown of the Saridag Monastery, also known as White City, would glint in the evening sun. This monastery was built in the deep forest of Khentii Mountain in 1654 by Undur Gegeen Zanabazar as a Buddhist center. However, before it could fulfill its role as a religious center, the monastery was attacked and ruined in 1687. Archaeological excavation shows the monastery was a complex of nine buildings and three stupas surrounded by stone walls. Also, hundreds of Buddha sculptures were found, proving that the monastery was a stunning city of fine arts. So far, five Buddha sculptures of mixed origin have been excavated and there are hundreds more to be dug up. Each sculpture is unique and different from the other. Another large Buddha sculpture was found during an archaeological excavation, and measured to be about three meters tall. Seventeenth century military weapons, armor, a blacksmith’s anvil, hammer, and many other artifacts have been found here. Ulaanbaatar’s history can be traced back to this monastery which featured the magnificent art of Buddha sculptures.

Mongolia is the country of dinosaurs. Due to Mongolian Government's 11th Establishment, The Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs was established to protect, register and verify fossils, all in order to preserve our heritage for future generations. The muzeum’s operation started officially since it got registration certification on the February 21 in 2013.

The first exhibition "T.Bataar (Tarbosaurus Bataar) comes home" was organized successfully on the June 8 in 2013 at the Sukhbaatar square with approximately half million people visiting the exhibition during 3 months. Henceforth, 22 dinosaurs of 6 genus and 187 exhibits from Italy will come back to their motherland, fossils from Paleontological Center will be located at Central Museum of Mongolian Dinosaurs and museum treasury will be enriched by more than 1000 fossils.

Mongolia has rich dinosaur fossils and a lot of paleontological research works have been done. So there was a big demand of establishing paleontology museum in Mongolia.

In 1923, Roy Chapman Andrews found dinosaur eggs during a scientific expedition in the Mongolian Gobi. Before this discovery, the world had no idea that dinosaurs laid eggs. The Central Dinosaur Museum, located in Ulaanbaatar, is full of rare and unique exhibits that will take you back to hundred million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Chin Van Khanddorj’s palace was built in 1913. Chin Van Khanddorj was a famous politician and the first Foreign Affairs Minister of Mongolia. The palace later became the residence of political leaders such as B. Tserendorj, Prime Minister of Mongolia. Outside of the building, there stands a statue of Chin Van Khanddorj and two ger palaces. The ground floor of the main building has tightly shuttered windows and is built of brick in a Russian style. The second story is built of wood, and has large windows all around, designed in a Chinese style, to be enjoyed during the summer. But the interior showcases Mongolian style. Walls, ceilings, and other architectural elements are decorated with Mongolian patterns painted, embossed, and carved on them. Although the building consists of elements in three different styles, it is architecturally aggregate, unique and free.

Mongolians are among those who have created the largest number of puzzle toys. This ability of the Mongolians to think creatively and solve puzzles got its start in nomadic households of ancient times. Even the dwelling, furniture, and other household items required creativity to make them easy to transport. Mongolians used to create puzzle toys for their children, focusing on developing their ability to think and create, to develop methods for assembly, and sparking creativity in terms of design. There is a unique museum in Ulaanbaatar that displays this valuable cultural heritage. It is the International Intellectual Museum.

The International Intellectual Museum is the first privately owned museum and was established on August 13, 1990 in Ulaanbaatar. It displays over 11,000 of intellectual items from 130 countries around the world. It is very unique because visitors can not only can view the displays, but they also have the opportunity to touch and play with them. The museum’s collection includes up to 673 wonderful art works displayed, such as paintings, objects in different forms, puzzle versions of the Seven Wonders of the World, spacecrafts, puzzle gers, puzzle dolls, puzzle toys in the form of monasteries, and other constructions. The museum has over 560 unique chess sets, including one with 10 cm tall figures made of bone and intricate 4 mm carvings.

This is a place that every guest visiting Ulaanbaatar should experience.

You should definitely stop by this museum, which is rich in interesting and unique displays. Of course, the works mentioned above cannot fully encompass and reflect the different facets and colors of the creativity and artistic thinking of Mongolians. It is simply impossible. But we do hope that it can offer you at least a small glimpse at the creativity of the ancient and modern nomads. Ulaanbaatar is a city that can acquaint you with the best and most wonderful Mongolian artworks and brighten up your discovery of the innovative and imaginative Mongolian way of thinking.

All items are classified into 15 subcategories in order to create a friendly environment for visitors. The guide is available for every visitor with explanation of the exhibits. Most of the displays of the museum represent various branches of sciences in simplified form by toys and puzzle games. The fact that visitors are allowed to touch, and challenge themselves by putting puzzle games together, instead of merely seeing, makes the museum attractive and enjoyable.

Over 5000 puzzle games are displayed, starting with simple ones that consist from two pieces to difficult ones from 673 pieces. Assembling and disassembling of these puzzle games are so challenging that they require from 1 up to 56831 movements. Among the various geometrical shapes of the puzzle games you can find the Seven Wonders of the World made into puzzle. Unique work of arts, spaceship rockets, monasteries, monuments and buildings are all made into puzzle games.

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