A trip to the Manzushir Monastery is an excellent half-day getaway.
The complex of Manzushir Monastery (known also as Manjushri Monastery), dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, was first established in 1733.
Over time, the monastery became one of the country’s most important Buddhist centers with twenty temples and more than three hundred monks.
History of the Manzushir Monastery
In the 1930s, the monastery was destroyed in anti-religious purges run by Mongolian communists. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, new authorities allowed the restoration of Manjusri. But, until now, only the main building has been restored and serves as a museum. The ruins of other structures spread throughout the vast area surrounding the complex.
Where is the Manzushir Monastery
The ruins of the temple lie fifteen kilometers (as the crow flies) south of Ulaanbaatar. The territory around Manjusri is a part of the Bogd Khan Uul Strictly Protected Area. It contains abundant wildlife, streams, and cedar trees.
There is a mountainous hiking route connecting Manjusri with Ulaanbaatar. It takes eight to twelve hours to cover the distance one way. But unless you are a very experienced hiker, I wouldn’t recommend exploring it without a guide. The road is poorly marked, and you can quickly lose your way.
Getting to Manzushir Monastery
To get to Manjusri by car, you will have to take a forty-three-kilometer long detour via Zuunmod. It is one of the nicest towns in Mongolia and the administrative center of Töv Province. Manjusri lies eight kilometers north-east from there.
To use public transportation, go to the Lavai Bus Station in southern Ulaanbaatar. Buses leave for Zuunmod often.
Upon arrival to Zuunmod, you should be able to catch a taxi to the monastery. But if the driver won’t agree to wait for you at the site, you may end up having to hike back.
Accommodation at Manzushir Monastery
If you would like to stay overnight in the area, you can either try camping or go back to Zuunmod and stay in a local hotel. I have recently heard good things about Charles House. But I haven’t seen that place yet, so I can’t personally confirm if the accommodation is fine. There are also two tourist camps in the area – Bogd Khan and Ovoony Enger. The letter one lies just before the main gate leading to Manjushri Monastery. I don’t have any contact info for Bogd Khan tourist camp, but you can contact Ovoony Enger via Facebook.
Costs at Manjusri / Manzushir Monastery
The entrance fee to Manjusri in 2020 was 1,000 MNT per person.