Gandantegchinlen Monastery in Ulaanbaatar

to «The Great Place of Complete Joy»


The Gandantegchinlen Monastery is a Mongolian Buddhist monastery in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar that has been restored and revitalized since 1990. The Tibetan name translates to "The Great Place of Complete Joy". Gandan became an important center for learning and practicing Buddha's teachings, not only in the country but for the entire Mahayana Buddhist community. See also, Buddhism in Mongolia.

Image 1

Tibetan Style Buddhist Monastery

Nowadays, over 150 monks live here. It houses about 25 meters tall statue of Megjid-Janraiseg - a sage who leads the men on the way to Truth. He represents compassion. Covered by a huge number of precious stones, this statue weighs more than 20 tons and is made of copper coming from the mines of Erdenet.

The monastery complex consists of Zanabazar Buddhist University, three temples for Buddhist service and veneration of Avalokiteshvara, three Buddhist Colleges of Buddhist Philosophy, a College of Medicine and Astrology, and two Tantric College. Many local Mongolian people from the countryside in their traditional costumes come to donate and pray. Especially, if you arrive in the morning and catch a service, it is fascinating, with drumming, chanting, and cymbals. The giant Buddha is also very atmospheric, with lots of candles and gold plates. It's only about a twenty-minute walk from the square.

The Gandantegchinlen Monastery is worth visiting no matter what the season despite it not being heated. This is a great spot to escape the hectic life of the city and it’s indeed an island of tranquility.

Gandantegchinlen Monastery In Historical Perspective

This Tibetan-style Buddhist Monastery, also known as Gandantegchinlen Monastery, means Great Place of Complete Joy. The temple is thought to have been constructed by either the fourth or fifth Jebtsundamba Khutuktu (spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia) in 1809. It is situated in the heart of Ulan Bator. The temple once housed a number of monks who learned and practiced Buddhism. The temple for preserving the remains of the eighth Jebtsundamba Khutuktu was constructed in 1925. This monastery today serves as the monastery library. In the following year, further temples were also constructed and added to the monastery including Vajradhara Temple in 1840 and Zuu Temple in 1869.

It was relocated to Dalkha Hill in 1838, where it now stands, and acquired its present name. After that, it developed into Mongolia's primary center for Tantric Buddhism, and numerous schools of Buddhism, astrology, and traditional medicine were founded over time.

Surviving The Communist Era

More than 900 monasteries were destroyed in mass destruction and more than 10.000 Buddhist lamas were killed as a result of the communist system in Mongolia in the 1930s, however, Gandantegchinlen monastery remained one of the handfuls that managed to survive its own devastation. In 1938, it was shut down, and five of the monastery's temples were destructed.

The other ones are used as either cowsheds or reception areas for Russian government representatives. The monastery reopened and was even permitted to operate as a Buddhist monastery in 1944 as a result of a petition submitted by numerous lamas, although with tiny numbers of lamas and under rigorous communist control.

Restoration of Gandan Monastery Temple

The cult limitations on the Gandantegchenlin temple were lifted after the communist regime in Mongolia fell in 1990, allowing the monastery to resume operations. A comprehensive effort for the rehabilitation of the cult across the nation was launched by the Gandan Monastery temple in the new Independent Mongolia. Within the monastery, where around 900 lamas reside, there are currently ten operational datsans and temples.

The Statue of Migjid Janraisig Sum

The Gandantegchinlen Monastery's centerpiece, a spectacular white Migjid Janraisig Süm, is visible as you approach the end of the monastery. Numerous statues of Ayush, the Buddha of Longevity, adorn the walls of the temple, and stare through the shadows at the beautiful Migjid Janraisig figure. The statue is located in Mongolia's capital city Ulan Bator, Mongolia's Gandantegchinlen Monastery.

The eighth Bogd Khan gave his approval to the original statue in the hope that it might restore his vision, but the Russians are said to have melted it down to produce bullets. Nepal and Japan also contributed to the construction of the new sculpture. It is 26 meters in height, built of copper, and has glittering gold plating. It is considered a symbol of Mongolian Independence.

Tons of medicinal plants, a few Sutras, 2 million stacks of mantras, and a whole ger with furnishings can all be found inside the hollow sculpture. To the east of the temple are four Buddhist philosophy institutions, while to the west is Ondor Gegeen Zanabazar Buddhist University. Foreign visitors are not allowed to visit the university.

Noteworthy Attractions and Temples

On the initiative of Luvsanchultimjigmed Dambiijantsan, the monastery's first temple was constructed. He was the fifth generation of the Bogd, the living Buddha of Mongolia. The finest Mongolian designers created this temple, which is primarily composed of wood and soil and has gold-covered ceilings, in accordance with Mongolian artistic ideals of the time.

Additionally, it contained priceless Buddhist symbols and ornaments. The numerous Bodhisattva sculptures and images that have been erected in Gandan are exceedingly significant.

Ochidara and Didan-Lavran Temples

Ochidara Temple (Gandan Süm) and Didan-Lavran Temple are two of Gandan Khiid's top attractions. The Gandan Khiid, which looks out over the kora or pilgrimage path, is the first thing visitors to the temple who enter through the south gate notice. The majority of followers rub their palms over the prayer wheels in the courtyard for luck after finishing a round of Kora.

The 13th Dalai Lama's official residence throughout his stay in Ulaanbaatar after fleeing Tibet was the Didan-Lavran shrine. Devotees are frequently seen participating in the rites or meditating. The entire procedure can impart a calm and peaceful feeling into the air.

Statue of Tsongkhapa

There, in the midst of the enormous statue of Tsongkhapa, some of the most significant religious rituals are performed. The statue belonged to a revered member of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism who goes by the name Losang Drakpa.

How To Reach Gandan Monastery

The Gandan Monastery is a mere 16-minute ride from the main city center. From the Dragon Bus Terminal, tourists can take buses to the monastery.  The bus stand's notice board lists the bus numbers. It is available for consultation before boarding. The bus schedule, however, and the price of the tickets are flexible. It is advised to ask for the most recent information at the bus kiosk.


Why is the Gandantegchinlen Monastery important?

One of the few historic Buddhist monasteries that survived the Soviet era in Mongolia was Gandantegchinlen Monastery, which was established in 1838. In 1904, the 13th Dalai Lama resided in this area.

The primary religion in Mongolia is Buddhism, and this is the biggest temple that is still open for business. Not only for the nation as a whole but for the whole Mahayana Buddhist community, Gandan developed into a key location for studying and practicing Buddha's teachings.

Who built Gandantegchinlen Monastery?

This monastery was established in 1809 under the name Shar sum by the fifth Javzandamba, who held the highest lama position in the Mongolian religious hierarchy.

What are the opening hours of the Gandan monastery?

The Monastery is open from 9 AM to 5 PM every day. Entry to the monastery complex is free, although an entry pass is needed to access some portions of the temple complex. The morning services are a major draw and shouldn't be missed. Try to visit the temple early in the morning to take in the peace and quiet of the surroundings as it gets very crowded on special days.

What is the biggest monastery in Ulaanbaatar?

The Gandan Monastery, among the most monasteries, is the biggest and most significant monastery in Ulaanbaatar.

Request A Car Rental

Travelling to Mongolia and need a car rental plus extra equipments?

Tell us about your Rental requirements

Fields with an asterisk (*) are required.
Start date for rental *
End date for rental *
Preferred Vehicle
Extras required with vehicle hire *
  • ulaanbaatar
  • central-mongolia
  • culture
  • sightseeing
  • temples
  • museums
  • attractions
  • relaxation