Ulaan Baatar – first impressions

Filed under: Mongolia,Uncategorized — Amy @ 10:43 pm

We arrived in Ulaan Baatar at 7:30am or so, exhausted from being woken at 5:30 by the provodnista. Consequently, Gaana (our guide from Nomadic Journeys) dropped us off at our very centrally located hotel, the Bishrelt Plaza Hotel, for a bit of a nap.

Later in the afternoon when we felt more human, we met up for a quick tour of the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaan Baatar.

Like most of the soviet influenced cities we have visited, Ulaan Baatar has a main, large, flat, square.

Sukhbaatar Square

At one end is the mausoleum of Sukhbaatar. Unlike other soviet influenced cities we have visited (ahem… Moscow)… his body is not on display to the general public.

We also had a chance to visit the center of Mongolian Buddhism, Gandan monastery and temple.

Me at Gandan Khiid

Gaana explained that Mongolian buddhism is more influenced by the Tibetan traditions than the south-east asian Buddhist traditions. So, as you can see in that photo, the architecture is reminiscent of the Potala palace in Tibet. Not that I’ve been there yet, but I have seen pictures!

I don’t have a photo, but one of the highlights of the afternoon was having the head Lama from the monastery walk RIGHT BY US on the sidewalk. Thankfully, I do have some video. This man is the leader of Mongolian Buddhism. Cool.

I’m glad we had a chance to visit the temples in Ulan Ude. Since Buryatia is very similar culturally to Mongolia, I expected more similarities between the temples in both places. Not so! Perhaps it’s the age of both complexes, but the Gandan buildings were more brightly painted inside and out. Additionally, while the Ulan Ude temple had quilts on the ceiling, Gandan was painted in a more traditional style.

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