The next morning after we arrived in Baga Gazriin, Soyoloo and Simya took me to a nearby Buddhist Monastery that dates from the 16th Century. This 500-year-old monastery was used solely by Buddhist Monks as a religious retreat. Here, they practiced meditation and other Buddhist rituals. The temple has not been used for many years and has fallen into disrepair.
The drive across the snow-covered landscape was about a half hour from the ger retreat at Baga Gazriin (which means “little land”). Along the way I saw several Buddhist burial mounds and made a mental note to stop by them on the way back to our ger. Fresh snow had fallen all night and the road (previous tire tracks) was completely covered. We blazed our way, albeit at a slow pace, across fresh powdered snow – always cautious of any pitfalls hidden by the piled flakes.
The monastery was well hidden between some cliffed mesas; it was only by walking through a narrow pass did its frontal façade come into view.
The walls appeared to be made of baked brick and covered with mud stucco. Unfortunately, some travelers and visitors have etched or painted their names into the sides of the building. I am always in wonderment as to why someone would find their name so beautiful as to wreck a timeless piece of history.
Behind the monastery’s back walls we found some Buddhist prayer cloths affixed to the trees. I have seen similar prayer cloths on high ridges or mountain tops; I understand that the faithful believe that the prayers that are placed on these cloths will be taken by the wind up to heaven. I always find them a beautiful sight; their color contrasts strongly against the natural earth colors.
After we visited the monastery, Soyoloo and I walked up a trail that was cleverly hidden behind it. Up the trail we had a bird’s eye view of the Monastery and its entrance between the rock boulders. On the cliff tops, pious visitors have begun placing stones into piles creating Buddhist ovoo prayer mounds.
As we walked out of the monastery grounds area I saw some ancient Monk writing on the boulder face. Unfortunately, a contemporary traveler has added is name in blue paint, right over the ancient writing. I saw other acts of vandalism, some from this and last year, and others from the 1970’s.
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