Baldan Bereeven Khiid


At its peak, Baldan Bereeven Khiid was one of the three largest monasteries in Mongolia, home to 5000 lamas and thousands more pilgrims and monastic support staff. Communist thugs destroyed this building and murdered the monks in the 1930s. The purge was so complete that there are still rituals and prayers that have never been recovered by contemporary lamas; they were simply ground out of existence. Fortunately, restoration work has brought much of the monastery back to life.

There are maybe a dozen lamas here, attended by around two to three times that many pilgrims. The main temple, with its beautifully painted beams and dragon motifs, was revamped in 2010; it also features a massive prayer hall and a second-floor balcony that is closed to all visitors (even local lamas can access this floor only on certain holy days). By the gateway to the temple complex is a map of a walking loop that takes in the most important ovoos (offerings to the gods), the Eej (Mother) Cave, which acts a purifying place for anyone who passes through it, and a hilltop viewpoint with spectacular views of the buildings and the plain below.

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