UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

Pilgrimage sites associated with the Noyon Khutagt Danzanravjaa also known as “Energy Center”, “Khamarin Khiid” AbrahmsKavunenko, Saskiav


The sites associated with the lifetime of the Noyon Khutagt Danzanravjaa (1803-1857), the fifth reincarnation in the Noyon Khutagt lineage, in the Dornogovi aimag (province) form an important pilgrimage route in Mongolia. Danzanravjaa was born in the Gobi desert to a poor family during the Qing Empire. He is renowned for being an egalitarian lama (Buddhist religious specialist), a healer, and an influential playwright. The Energy Centre, which is one of the key sites on the pilgrimage is where he is believed to have left his healing energy for those who needed to benefit from its restorative properties following his death. Many of the other sites are associated with Danzanravjaa's life. One spot on the pilgrimage marks the site of Mongolia’s first theatre which was destroyed during the socialist purges of the 1930s. His play The Life Story of the Moon Cuckoo (Saran Khökhöö Namtar) is one of Mongolia’s most famous plays. Another site is a collection of crumbling meditation caves used by Danzanravjaa and his students, which include a rebirthing cave, an old cherry tree which has miraculously survived in the desert (donated to Danzanravjaa by a Japanese student), and a healing rock. Most of the artefacts associated with Danzanravjaa’s lifetime managed to survive the socialist purges of the 1930s. When his temple Khamarin Khiid became under threat, the curator of the temple, Lama Tuduv, hid crates of artefacts in the Gobi Desert. Two months later soldiers arrived and ransacked the temple, destroying the temple and killing many of the resident lamas. During the purges of the late 1930s around 36,000 people, half of whom were Buddhist lamas, were killed. Lama Tuduv survived and taught the whereabouts of the hidden artefacts to his grandson. In 1991 his grandson Altangerel dug up the crates and most of the artefacts are now housed in the Danzanravjaa museum in Sainshand. Important parts of the pilgrimage now include: Tontoon ovoo, the Energy Centre, the 108 meditation caves, the Ikh Tenger (great sky) Bell, the old site of the theatre, the newly built Khamarin Khiid temple complex, Bayanzurkh mountain, and the Danzanravjaa Museum at Sainshand.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International