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Ivolginsky Datsan, the Centre of Buddhist Culture on Trans-Siberian

Ivolginsky Datsan, the Centre of Buddhist Culture on Trans-Siberian

Ulan-Ude is a popular stop on Trans-Siberian route. Being the capital of Buryat republic, this is also the centre of Buddhism in Russia. 23 km away from the city, in Upper Ivolga Village, the most important Buddhist temple in Russia is located - Ivolginsky Datsan. This place is definitely worth a visit. The Monastery complex consists of several temples and it also has a Buddhist University with faculties of medicine, philosophy and iconography.

The history of Ivolginsky Datsan started after the World War II, when the authorities granted Buddhist community a swampy land near the village of Upper Ivolga. A wealthy Buddhist family donated their own house to the community, and it was turned into the temple by the joined efforts of lamas and volunteers. That small house laid the foundation of Ivolginsky Datsan, which is nowadays a complex of eight buildings: churches, libraries and universities.

Datsan is the spiritual center not only for three million Buddhists in Russia, but also for pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. They are attracted not only by the fabulous architecture of Datsan, but also by the glory of Lama Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov, who was the leader of the Buddhists in Russia and an associate of the Dalai Lama XIV. His imperishable body is kept in the monastery.

In 1927, before leaving this world, Itigelov asked other lamas to start a special memorial meditation and funeral riot, took lotus posture and soon stopped breathing. His will was to be buried in lotus posture and he also asked his students to visit his body in 30 years. When in 1957 Itigelov’s body was examined for the first time, there were absolutely no signs of decomposition or decay. In 2002 his skin still remained elastic and his joints maintained mobility. The monks moved the body to Ivolginsky datsan and erected a beautiful building – the Palace Twelfth Pandita Hambo Lama Dashi- Dorzho Itigelov.

Scientists are trying to solve the mystery of lama’s imperishable body, and pilgrims from all over the world come to see this wonder. It is believed that lama’s body emits a powerful energy flow and possesses healing powers. 

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