- Posted April 19, 2013 by
Erdene Zuu, Mongolia
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Erdene Zuu Monastery
- alexislai, CNN iReport producer
As part of a tour to Mongolia, I got the chance to visit Erdene Zuu, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery located near the town of Kharkhorin. Buddhist monasteries are far and few between in Mongolia so getting to visit one is a privilege. I had already been to a couple of other Tibetan Buddhist monasteries but Erdene Zuu was the largest and most well known of them all. It was also where I got to listen to monks chanting!
During the Communist regime in Mongolia, which didn’t end until 1990, hundreds of monasteries were destroyed and thousands of monks were killed. Devout Buddhists could only pray in private. Monasteries that survived destruction were left in varying states of disrepair and that neglect is still evident today.
As I walked around the expansive complex of Erdene Zuu, I was saddened to see the poor exterior conditions of the temples and other structures though you could make out every inch of the distinctive and beautiful Tibetan Buddhist architecture. Every façade looked like it could have done with a bit spackling and painting. In contrast, it was obvious that the interior rooms of Erdene Zuu and decorations (murals, religious icons) had been well taken care of. The best part is that the monks and pilgrims have returned to the monasteries and Erdene Zuu was bustling with religious activity.