Khamar monastery

About 45 km (27,96 miles) in the south of Sainshand, on the hillsides of Mount Sharil, is located the Khamarin Khiid, ”foothills monastery”. Khamariin Khid was built in 1821. It’s one of the three monasteries of the third Javzandamba Khudagt, Danzanravjaa (1803 – 1856), Mongolian famous teacher and writer. The monastery was an important centre of the Buddhist “red sect”, and the seat of the Gobiin Dogshin Noyon Khutagt, ”Gobi’s Terrible Noble Saint”. As a virulent critic of his society, Danzanravjaa fought against distinctions of class or sex, which were very strict at that period. He devoted great efforts to defending the cause of the public education, and used to promote it at Khamarin Monastery, through the creation of a public school, a theatre, a museum and a library.

The Namtar Duulakh Datsan, set up in Khamarin Monastery in the 1830’s, is known as the first professional theatre of Mongolia. Nearby, the ”Khuukhdiin Datsan”, children’s college, proposed a basic training and an artistic education to the children of the area, who often became singers and dancers, painters or sculptors in the monastery or in the theatre company. Khamarin Monastery was a perfectly harmonious place, with a river lined with trees on its southern bank, and surrounded at north with rocky mountains scattered with many caves. Monks are reported to have cut themselves off for 108 days, doing some yoga and meditation exercises, to harden their body and strengthen their physical and spiritual forces.

The place was full of life ; hundreds of persons put on the famous drama ”Saran Khokhoo”.

Danzanravjaa wrote the play The Moon Cuckou’s Library, ”Saran Khokhoo Namtar” in 1830. When he died, his servant Tudev saved the text and all the sacred objects of the monastery. These goods were kept by his descendants, then were uncovered in 1990. The play was put on many times in this monastery when the Noyon Danzanravjaa was alive.

At its peak, the monastery was composed of four main sections - East Khuree, West Khuree, Tsokhon and Dunkher -, that included four colleges, more than eighty temples, and more than five hundreds lamas living here. The main temple was a splendid monument rising on two floors. Outside the monastery, Övgön Suvarga, the old man’s stupa, is reported to contain Danzanravjaa’s relics.

The monastery was completely destroyed by the army in 1938, during the religious purges in Mongolia. Today, two little ceremonial temples and many religious buildings have been rebuilt, and more than ten lamas live in the monastery.