The Ongi monastery is found at the foot of Saikhan Ovoo Mountain, near the village of Saikhan Ovoo in the Dundgobi region. This monastery was one of the largest and most respected in Mongolia before its destruction in 1939 by the communist authorities.
It was founded in 1660 and consists of two sites,
one to the north and the other to the south of the Ongi River. Khutagt, to the south, is the oldest. Various administrative buildings were found there, as well as eleven temples. Barlim, to the north, was built during the eighteenth century. It housed 17 temples, one of which was the largest in Mongolia. Four Buddhist universities were also housed in the monastery. At its peak, the monastery could accommodate up to 1,000 monks at the same time.
During the complete destruction of the temple in 1939, under the direction of Khorloogiin Choibalsan, 200 monks were killed and many survivors were imprisoned or forced to join the communist repression army. Other monks were able to escape and became farmers or ordinary workers. The river water was diverted to feed the local mines owned by the government.
The drying up of the river led to the departure of the local population. The monastery then seemed doomed to oblivion. However, at the fall of the communist government in 1990, three monks who began their Buddhist education at Ongiin Khiid sixty years earlier, decided to return. Slowly and patiently, the monks built a new foundation on
the ancient ruins in order to restore Ongiin Khiid and revitalize Buddhism in Mongolia. Today, the temple was completely rebuilt and two small museums were created in yurts. You can find exhibitions of objects, traditional religious items and architectural elements of the original monastery. Ongiin Khiid is also home to a cold water source, Bar Khamba, known for its beneficial virtues, especially in the care of “internal” diseases, often related to the digestive system. In keeping with tradition, this water is effective only when it is drunk before sunrise.
Ongi, 1 Night