Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mongolia | Dornogov Aimag | Kaligiya! Shambhala!

As Nicholas Roerich would say, “Kaligiya, Kaligiya, Come to Shambhala!” In what the boulevardier wits of Ulaan Baatar have already dubbed “Mongolia’s Woodstock,” an estimated 6000 people appeared at Khamariin Khiid in Dornogov Aimag for the official opening of Shambhala Land. Originally created by Danzan Rajvaa in the nineteenth century and then destroyed by the communists during the 1930s repressions, the complex, complete with 108 stupas, has now been rebuilt. Some monks maintain that the physical Shambhala in Dornogov serves as a portal to the multi-dimensional Shambhala, which intersects the mundane physical world at Khamariin Khiid, Istanbul, and London, among other places.
From the four corners and two spheres of Mongolia they streamed to Shambhala
Streaming . . .
Still Streaming . . .
Half of the Shambhala Complex
One of the four Gates to the Shambhala complex
Some of the 108 Stupas of Shambhala
Worshippers at the Brain Ovoo at Shambhala
Invoking Shambhala at the Brain Ovoo
Shambhala at night, with the near-full (92.70% illumination) moon

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mongolia | Dornogov Aimag | Caves |Update

Linguist, historian, and Germanic studies scholar Mönkhnyagt has pointed out that I neglected to mention what she considered one of the more interesting aspects of Danzan Rajvaa’s caves.
On the top of the cliffs above the caves is a hole which supposedly opens into a networks of air channels connecting all of the caves. This not only serves as a natural air-conditioning system but, according to monk Baatar, also allows certain biophysical energies found in the desert atmosphere here to enter the caves. These energies reportedly have an effect on those who meditate in the caves.
Hole on the top of cliffs allows in air and energies
Also I forgot this: Baatar mentioned that each of the stupas under construction at the nearby Shambhala Land had been paid for by donations from various interested parties, most of them Mongolian. One of the stupas, however, has been paid for with a donation from action-movie actor Steven Seagal, who reportedly visited Khamariin Khiid last year. I had not heard about this visit before, so if this is the case he must have made the trip without the publicity blitz which accompanied his 2002 Visit to Chingis Khan’s 840th Birthday Bash, where he made a cameo appearance after a dramatic arrival by helicopter.
Billboard touting whirlwind 2002 Mongolian tour of would-be Chingis Khan Steven Seagal. Apparently the Chingis Khan bio-pic he was planning did not pan out, which is unfortunate because I was looking forward to seeing Winona Ryder play Börte, Chingis’s wife.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Mongolia | Dornogov Aimag | Shambhala

Two kilometers (1.24 miles to normal people) ATCF from Khamariin Khiid is Danzan Rajvaa’s Huge Three Dimensional Representation of the Sacred Land of Shambhala. Created in the last two years of his life, this Shambhala consisted of a huge square encompassed by a wall of 108 stupas with four gateways, plus several other larger stupas, ovoos, and other constructions. Most of the original Shambhala here was destroyed during the repressions of the late 1930, but a big project is now underway to restore the complex. The square of 108 ovoos is being rebuilt, along with three of the original four gateways and eight larger stupas.

According to tradition noblemen entered Shambhala by the right gate and lamas and teachers by the left gate. Pilgrims and worshippers entered by the Central Gate. The Central Gate had two doorways named the Golden Doorstep and the Silver Doorstep. Visitors to Shambhala entered by the Golden Doorstep and left by the Silver Doorstep. Upon entering the Golden Doorstep you were suppose to leave all harmful thoughts behind and think only auspicious thoughts while in Shambhala.
A path leading from near the temples to Shambhala ends just in front of the Center Gate.
The Center Gate with the two doorways under construction. The Brick front will have representations of the 25 Kalkin Kings of Shambhala.
Two of the larger stupas and one of the completed smaller stupas which will make up the square of 108.
Large stupa and two smaller stupas making up the square.
The ring of rock in the background is known as the Twelve Year Circle and represents the 12-year cycle of the Tibeto-Mongolian calender. In front of the Twelve Year circle are three different-sized ovoos representing the Future, Present, and Past. The Ovoo of the Future is in the front. The Ovoo of the Present is just visible immediately behind it. The smallest ovoo is the the Ovoo of the Past. According to tradition, If you put a white stone on the Ovoo of the Future while saying your surname and then first name when you die you will be reincarnated very quickly.
The Maidar’s Circles. These three circles make up a line pointing to Khairkhan Uul, the mountain where Danzan Ravjaa’s spirit is supposed to reside.
The Brain Ovoo—Center of Shambhala—in the distance.
The Brain Ovoo
The Brain (Tarkhi) Ovoo. This is the center point of energy in Shambhala. Local monks claim that when there are dust storms and high winds outside Shambhala Land here by the Brain Ovoo it is always calm. Some people also claim to feel heat or some other form of energy emanating from this place. Monks also claim that there are just two places like this in the world. The other place is in Tibet, although they say they do not know the actual location.
Shambhala from a nearby hill. The complex is expected to be completed by September of 2006, when there will be an official opening and dedication.

See more about The Legend of Shambhala.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mongolia | Dornogov Aimag | Khamariin Khiid

We entered some slightly hillier country and soon came to a low pass surmounted by two ovoos known as the Women’s Ovoos. They are said to represent a woman’s breasts and a mother’s milk. By tradition all women are supposed to stop at these ovoos and while circumambulating them look back toward Khairkhan Uul, a mountain off to the distance in the southwest. According to tradition if they wish for good things while doing this their wishes will come true. In a depression a half-mile or so away from the ovoos can be seen the temples of Khamariin Khiid.
The Women's Ovoos
Gateway to Khamariin Khiid
The monastery turned out to be 34.9 kilometers as the crow flies (that's 21.7 miles ATCF to non-metric-heads) from Sainshand as measured by GPS, and perhaps a kilometer or two more by vehicle, as the road is pretty much straight.
The temples of Khamariin Khiid.
Stupas at Khamariin KhiidTemple containing the Statue of Ten Thousand Knives
Dush Lama and Enkhjargal, the two main monks at Khamariin Khiid
Detail of the Statue of Ten Thousand Knives
For more on the Statue of Ten Thousand Knives and Khamariin Khiid see "Treasures of the Sand—The Legacy of Danzan Ravjaa” by Venerable Dude Konchog Norbu.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mongolia | Dornogov Aimag | Sainshand

From the Big Dumpling I winged into the Big Buutz, then with historical consultant Mönkhnyagt in tow I backtracked south by catching the 9:35 a.m. local train from Ulaan Baatar to Sainshand, capital of Dornogov Aimag, arriving there at 7:30 in the evening. My ultimate goal was nearby Khamariin Khiid.
Downtown Sainshand
Suburb of Sainshand
The next morning under slightly overcast skies we headed east across the featureless Gobi to Khamariin Khiid. Monkhnyagt’s friend in Sainshand had arranged for the jeep and driver; the driver turned out to be an off-duty cop who said he was quite pleased to have the opportunity to visit Khamariin Khiid on what he deemed to be an auspicious day. It was the day of the Full Moon; the exact moment of the Full Moon was at 3:52 this afternoon. I had planned the trip to be at Khamariin Khiid at this time.

As is so often the case in Mongolia with distances in the countryside I got wildly different estimates of how far it was from Sainshand to Kharmariin Khiid. I had been told by various people in Ulaan Baatar that the distance was either 60, 50, 40, 35, 20, or 17 kilometers, and one otherwise knowledgeable person, apparently mistaking the Gelug monastery in town for Khamariin Khiid, claimed it was in Sainshand itself.
On the road to Khamariin Khiid
Along the way, we saw several ger camps plopped down on the vast expanses of sand. Our driver said they are quite popular with Japanese tourists in the summer, although I can’t imagine what people actually do there all day, especially in what must be the ferocious heat of summer.
Ger Camp
Recreational facilities at ger camp
Desert near Khamariin Khiid

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