ErdeneZuu Monastery

ErdeneZuuKhiid translates to Hundred Treasures Monastery, was the first Buddhist monastery founded in Mongolia. It was commissioned by Altai Khaan in 1586, and had between 60-100 temples and about 300 gers inside the walls in its prospering times. It is said that there was around 1000 monks in residence at its peak.

Even though the temple was shut down in result of Socialist purges in 1930’s, good number of statues, tsam masks and thangkas were saved. They were buried in the mountains or stored in local homes, regardless of the high risk of punishment if discovered.

In 1965, the monastery was permitted to reopen as a museum and since the collapse of communism in 1990 it once again became an active worshipping place. But in no ways it comes near to what it was before the damage from local lords’ wars and the purge. The main temples date from the 16th century. Most of the artifacts inside including paintings, thangkas , masks etc – are from 18th century.

On a hill outside the monastery sits a phallus stone called Kharkhorin Rock. The phallus is said to restrain the sexual impulses of the monks and ensure their good behavior.