In St. Petersburg there is the northernmost Buddhist temple in the world. His official name is Datsan Gunzechoney.
According to ancient texts the first Buddhists of St. Petersburg appear in the city in the times of Peter the Great. They were Volga Kalmyks of the kingdom of Kalmykia that was added to Russia in 1609. They lived in Tatarskaya Sloboda (a district of tartars in Saint Petersburg). The Buddhist community in St. Petersburg appeared in the XIXth century. In 1897 in the city live only 75 Buddhists.
In 1900 the Dalai Lama’s representative in Russia Agvan Dorgiev received permission to build the Buddhist temple in St. Petersburg. On March 16 of 1909 he bought a plot and materials to start building. The project was elaborated in accordance with traditions of Tibet by two architects N. Beresovskiy and G. Baranov (he built the well-known gastronomic Eliseevskiy in St. Petersburg).
The works lasted from 1909 to 1915. The first religious service in the temple was the 21 of February of 1913 by the honor of 300 years of the dynasty of the Kings Romanov. The statue of Budda was given away by the king of Siam Rampa V. The first abbot of the temple was Lama Agvan Dorgiev.
The datsan (the Buddhist temple) was built of granite. It is decorated with gold, with statues and many colors. This building is also known for its stained glass windows which were created by Nikolay Rerih, a well-known philosopher and painter in Russia. In the stained-glass represent 8 good symbols of Buddhism.
In 1916 the religious services in Datsan ended because of the revolution in Russia. All the monks had to leave the city in a short time. In 1919 the temple was looted and the biggest part of the books of the library disappeared. In 1924 the temple began to function again but for a short time. In 1935 in the times of Stalin NKVD (special police of that period) captured many monks, parishioners and lama Agvan Dorgiev. Many of them were killed by the NKVD and Lama Agvan died after his only interrogation at the prison hospital. During the Soviet period in the Datsan there were different sports organizations, radio station, and even zoological laboratories.
Only in 1990 the temple was returned to the Buddhist community of Russia. In 1994 was assigned the new abbot lama Danzan-Jaibudsin Samaev. 3 years later in the temple was installed the statue (burjan) of Budda Gautama created by masters of Mongolia.
Now the Datsan is very popular place. Teachers of Buddhism come to the temple and give lessons, meditations and other activities. Nowadays in the permanent Datsan live more than 10 monks. The present adobe is Djampa Doñiod, Buddha Balgevievich Badmaev.
We advise you to visit this beautiful temple, a sacred place of beauty and power.
The address: St. Petersburg, metro station “Staraya Derevnia”, Primorskiy prospect 91.
Normally they make the prayers twice a day daily at 10:00 and at 15:00.