Zanabazras retreat and worship
Location N 47*02.343. E 102*13.547 Uvurkhangai provinces. The easiest rout to Tuvkhun monastery is the road from soum center Kharakhorin southwest up to valley of Orkhon river. It can be reached also the resort town Khujirt. Either by fording The orkhon river (condition permitting) or the bridge on the of Orkhon water fall as known as tourist attraction. The final mile or two up to the steep hill to the monastery may be impossible after heavy rains. In 1648, about the time he had found what now Shankh monastery on the Shariin gol, Zanabazar noticed an unusual armchair-shaped peak among the ridges west of the Orkhon River. He soon concluded that the mountain, known as shireet Ulaan uul, was an auspicious spot. Upon his return in 1651 from his firs trip to Tibet he had a small walled stone meditation hut built here. 1653, he visited Erdenezuu, founded by great grandfather, and appeared before a convocation of kalkh nobility. While there he prevailed upon his followers to build temple and retreat at Shireet Ulaan uul in his own personal use. Later it became worship where many of his famous artworks were created; including five transcendent Buddha’s now located in the Zanabazar Five Art Museum and Choijim Lamas Musuem. Zanabazar also reportedly designed his Soyombo Alphabet while his residing here. During Zanabazras lifetime retreat was called Baysaglant Aglag Oron (Happy Secluded Place). After his death it became Tuvkhun Monastery, the name which it is known today. The small temple was heavily damaged by communists during the upheavals of the late 1930s. During the summer of 1997 extensive ceremonies were performed here and new statue of deity Gombo makhagal (Mahakala) was placed in top of refurbished and consecrated. Several monks live at the monastery full time.
The peak of where Tuvkhun is located resembles an easy chair with arm rest on either side. In the seat of the chair, several hundred meter above the base of peak to the temples. According to legend, only Zanabazar was allowed to right up to the temples. Others had to dismount at the base at base of the peak and walk up. Near the top of staircase, to the right of temples, are two wells about fifteen feet from each others. One has fresh water in it, while the other has slightly brackish water. No one has been able to explain why one is brackish and one not, or for that matter, how there can be wells at all here in there solid rock very close to summit of mountain where ordinarily there would not be any under ground water courses. This, according monks to residence, is just one of the many oddities of this place.
In the main temple, on the shelf above several statues of deities, rests of small statue of Zanabazar.
Beside the statue is large chunk of rock in which can seen am impression that, with a little bit of imagination, resembles a human hand. This, according to legend, is the hand print of Zanabazar himself. From the temples trial to the left, when facing the mountain, leads to two meditation caves. Near the cave is “Zanabazar’s throne”, a stone seat where, according to monks in residence, Zanabazar would seat each morning at dawn. On a sloping shelf of stone below the caves, pressed into native rock, are the imprints of several feet. Local monks say one is the bare foot of Zanabazar as a small boy, while another is of his foot as grown man, shod in Mongolian style boots. There also an imprint of what is said to be his horse’s hoof. Yet another footprint is said to be that one of Zanabazras’s main disciples, Luvsannorovsharav, who went on to found the Mandal Monastery at Mandal Bag in Bayankhongor province. To the right of temple a path leads upward to summit of the rock. One branch of the path leads to the so called mother womb, a narrow passageway which pilgrims crawl through to be symbolically reborn, cleansed of their sins. Nearby, an underground passageway leads to the other side of peak. This was secret escape route from Tuvkhun.which local monks clam Zanabazar used to flee from the forces of his arch-enemy Galdan Boshigit during the war between Khalk and Zuungariin Mongol in 1688. An extension of the path continues to peak, where the sizable flat area created with the help of stone retaining walls is surrounded with the large ovoo.According to tradition, women are not allowed in this summit, although with advent in recent years of many tourists from other countries this prohibition is now sometimes ignored. At the bottom of the peak, near the current parking lot, is “Zanabazrar’s hitching post ,” which Zanabazar allegedly made by tying together the tops of two saplings which then grew together in the from an upside- down you. .