Tuvkhun Monastery Mongolia
Tuvkhun Monastery Mongolia is located on top of the mountain Shireet Ulaan (2268a.s.l). Its rocky peak is surrounded with green forest, mostly larches and cedars and located 20km away to the north of Bat-Ulzii soum, Uvurkhangai province. The Tuvkhun Monastery was built by Undur Gegeen Zanabazar in 1653, for the purpose of meditation and creating arts.
Before getting to know about the Tuvkhun Monastery, we should discuss about Zanabazar. Undur Gegeen Zanabazar was born in 1635 as a Golden kin of Genghis Khan. He was enthroned as an incarnation of Jhavan Taranata Gungaanyambo Bogdo Jibzundamba. Bogd literally means ‘God’ and Jibzundamba means ‘the highest’. This made him the first Head of Mongolian Buddhism when he was 5 years old in 1639. Mongolian people addressed him the First Bogd Zanabazar. In 1649-1651, he studied Buddhism in Tibet and after his return he started great works to develop Buddhist schools throughout Mongolia. Zanabazar played a great role in religion and politics of Mongolia. He started to build numerous monasteries throughout Mongolia which one of them was Tuvkhun Monastery. He created many extraordinary arts according to his meditation and contemplation of Buddhism.
Zanabazar – The Founder of Tuvkhun Monastery
The Tuvkhun Monastery was primarily only a wooden cabin built by Zanabazar. Number of temples were increased to 14 small temples with support of local people. The Monastery was named Tuvkhun Monastery ‘Blissful and solitary land’. Tuvkhun was also meant ‘workshop’, where Zanabazar worked on his arts through meditation. One of the most known creations of Zanabazar was ‘Soyombo’ script . He created it in 1686 here in Tuvkhun Monastery in order to develop Buddhism in scientific and literature level. His legacy remained among our people as you can see the Soyombo symbol on our flag. Mongolians believe and worship the Soyombo as a symbol of independence or freedom in regards with politics and religion.
Another influential fact about him is that he developed the Buddhist art to the level of World classical art. While he was constructing many monasteries throughout Mongolia he tried to blend the Mongolian nomadic lifestyle and mind with the Buddhist monastery and art design. Apart from this he created his own technique of sculpting and casting deities and goddesses. Even today experts are still studying his techniques.
Original Monastery was attacked by Oirad Mongolian soldiers in 1688. However local monks and people restored it in 1760 and 1786. Unfortunately the Tuvkhun Monastery was destroyed during the Communist repression as well. Local authority took the Monastery under its protection in 1971, and the state, in 1994. Current display of the Monastery was completed in 2001 according to the old drawn and photographic sources.
Hiking to Tuvkhun Monastery, Mongolia
In order to reach to the Tuvkhun Monastery, you’ll have to hike for 5 km to the top of the mountain. You will reach a small a open meadow in front of the high rocky cliff. The Monastery is located on that cliff so you will also climb up to the monastery through rock steps. There are three small temples on the stage you climbed up. While you’re searching about the Monastery you’ll find several meditation caves and mother’s womb (small cave). Local people believe if you roll around in the womb your body will be cleansed as if you are newly born. There are several ovoos (spiritual set made by pile of rocks) on the top of the cliff and monuments dedicated to natural deities.
You’re going to do a lot of hiking and climbing here. But it will be worth trying since you’re going to see a beautiful display of nature on top of the Mountain. You need to carry your water with you and sun cream and sunhat is recommended to be put on depending on the weather.
On the area of Mountain skirt there are local nomads serve guests with horses so you can ride a horse to the Monastery. But if you decide to walk it would be about an hour of hiking to the meadow depending on your pace.
Tourist Ger camps near Tuvkhun Monastery
The closest camp to the Tuvkhun Monastery is ‘Bayasgalan’ tourist camp, which not that decent camp but is able to provide you with hot meal and shower, as well as a clean bed in a private ger. There are several nomadic families reside near to the Tuvkhun Monastery and also next to the Bayasgalan tourist camp and they serve tourists with foods, beds and horse riding services.
Tours to Tuvkhun Monastery
- Gobi Desert & Orkhon Valley Tour (From $1290) – Small group tour to the best destinations of Mongolia