Gunjiin Sum, ”temple of the princess”, is located inside Gorkhi Terelj Natural Park, in the area of Baruunbuyan, 140 kilometres (87 miles) Northeast of the capital. Dondovdorj built it in 1740. It has been protected since 1961.
History of the temple
During the 17th century, the Mongolian Khan Dondovdorj and a Manchu princess fell in love to each other and married. When the princess was killed, Khan Dondovdorj and the Manchus decide to build a temple and a marble funeral monument in her honour. The Mongolians sent 200 lamas to officiate in the temple. As the time goes by, the temple will host more and more pilgrims and will be extended. Unlike most monasteries in Mongolia, the temple of Gunj was not destroyed by Soviets, but fell in ruins because of negligence and vandalism. Today, there are only the main temple and a few walls left, and all is in a pitiful state. We can see the entrance of the monastery that was, beforehand, fitted out with a rather quite convincing protection system : if anyone tried to push the door, some arrows ran through him/her !
The temple is not exactly a wonderful place, but it can be the pleasant purpose of a hike in the park.
How to go there ?
Gunj’s Monastery is about 30 kilometres (18,64 miles) North Terelj as the crow flies. You need a guide to go there. It’s possible to pass directly through the mountains at North, or to take the longest road that lines the Baruunbayan River. You will need at least one-day horse riding (2 days for a return trip), or two-days walk (4 days for a return trip hike).