Erdene Zuu Monastery
Erdene Zuu, located in Kharkhorin, Uvurkhangai province, is inarguably the earliest surviving monastery in Mongolia. Avtai San Khan, the leader of Khalkh Mongols ordered to build Erdene Zuu monastery in 1585 after declaring Tibetan Buddhism as a state religion.The Erdene-Zuu monastery preserves magnificent works of Mongolian artists, painters, cutters, sculptors, embroiders and craftsman of the XVII-XIX centuries. It had over 60 temples, residing thousands of monks
It had between 60 and 100 temples, about 300 gers inside the walls and, at its peak, up to 1000 monks in residence. Erdene zuu Monastery was destroyed by communists in 1930s during the political purge. Suprisingly, many Buddha images and statues, tsam masks and thangkas were saved by locals.
The monastery was closed until 1965 and reintroduced as a museum to public. After democratic revolution in 1990, religious freedom was restored and monastery became active again.Damaged initially by the communist purge in 1937, Erdenezuu, along with Gandan and Amarbaysgalant monasteries, was fortunate to be left half destroyed as a showpiece to international politicians to show that communist regime supported the freedom of religion. Now, Erdenezuu is an active temple and open to locals and foreigners. The monastery is enclosed in an immense walled compound surrounded by 108 stupas.The three main praying halls, the Dala lama temple, and the meditation temples are all part of the Erdene zuu museum. The Dalai Lama Temple was built in 1675 to commemorate the visit by Abtai Khaan's son, Altan, to the Dalai Lama in Tibet. The temple accommodates statue of Zanabazar and some fine 17th-century thangkas depicting the Dalai Lamas and various protector deities.