Bringing a Monastery Back to Life

January 19, 2011

Author: Sheila Melvin

Source: The New York Times

Erdene Zuu, Mongolia’s oldest surviving Buddhist monastery, is a sprawling, windswept complex nestled in the Orkhon Valley, the ancient cultural crossroads where Genghis Khan chose to locate the capital of his empire, Karakorum, back in 1220. The monastery — which dates to 1586 and was built with stones from the ruined capital — once had 60 temples and 1,000 monks who lived in hundreds of gers dotted throughout the swaying grass. Now it has just 54 monks, none of whom live on the site, and 13 temples, only one of which — the Lama Temple — can be used for worship.