Amarbayasgalant monastery (khiid)
The monastery was a short drive, maybe 7km, from our ger camp. On the
way we spotted a pair of cranes and some ground squirrels — both of these
were to become so common as to be almost unremarkable, but Mike managed to
be on the wrong side of the van again and missed the cranes a second time.
At the monastery we waited while Chinzo went to fetch the monk to let
us in and guide us around. It was overcast, cold and windy, with a few
drops of rain, and the talk he gave seemed to drag on, especially with
Chinzo having to translate. He was gorgeous and spoke beautifully,
with elegant hand movements, but no one wanted to break the mood by
taking a photograph.
was built around
1730. Of all Mongolia's monasteries, it best survived the 1937 communist
purge of Buddhism, but around half of its temples were still destroyed.
It's among the most important Buddhist centres in Mongolia. See the
He guided us around the monastery, with a young monk running around
unlocking and relocking all the buildings for us. The architecture was
very Chinese - just how Chinese only became clear to me later, after
we visited Beijing - but the interior decoration and religious art were
Lingering too long to take photos from the second story of the biggest
building, I managed to get locked out on the balcony and had to call
out to be let back down. But that gave me time to try taking a panorama
We had a late dinner - in a huge plush "restaurant ger" - and discovered
that the camp staff would light the stoves in our gers just before we
went to bed and again in the morning before we woke up.
Half a dozen of us climbed a small hill behind the camp, where I used
my tripod for the first and only time on the trip, to take photos of
some cacti in the evening light. We had an impressive sunset and moon.
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