Ulaanbaatar is one of those cities that had a combination of hidden gems and overly hyped attractions. In many ways, you can look around the city and think that there isn’t much to see. Last Saturday was a day full of both hidden and hyped sites.
Our usual group was several people short last weekend as five of them went on a horseback riding expedition in the steppes. That left about five of us to hang out for the whole weekend. On Saturday, I was quite intent on going to the Gandan Monastery. It is one of the most well-known attractions in Ulaanbaatar. It is essentially this huge monastic complex at the top of a hill in the West of town.
Naomi and I thought we were being adventurous taking back roads to try and get to Gandan. Little did we know that our short detour led us straight back to Peace Avenue (the main road in UB). We walked and walked until we came to an intersection. We could see a monastery at the top of a hill and decided that was likely where we wanted to be.
On our way to the top, we found a little monastery off to the side. It was almost nicer than Gandan. People were actually worshipping, there was a monk inside praying. It was also where I took the picture of this little girl.
At the main temple, there are numerous different buildings. Most of which weren’t open. The main draw is the temple itself, which houses a 26.5m gold statue of a bodhisattva. Which to the Western eye, looks like a buddha.
The Gandan Monastery is a little over-hyped. It was neat, and like most tourist places, it was a combination of Mongolian and foreign tourists.
I still prefer the little monastery off the side. There is something to be said about going off the beaten track.