The next morning I wander back to the Golden Temple by myself. As mentioned before, it is the biggest Buddhist temple in Europe. The site had been blessed by the Dalai Lama during his visit to Kalmykia in November of 2004. Amazingly, the immense structure was built in nine months, from April to December 2005, and it was officially opened on December 27, 2005. On March 11, 2006, the Dalai Lama gave the temple its official name, Burkhan Bakshin Altan Süm (Golden Abode of the Buddha Shakyamuni). The elaborate paintings on the interior walls, the Telo Rinpoche had told me during our first meeting, had been finished just two weeks before my visit. Tibetan artists from India had been brought in to do the job. I must admit this the most modern and well-appointed Buddhist temple I have ever seen. It might well be the largest I have seen too. The only temple comparable in size is the immense main temple at Samye, the first monastery founded in Tibet, back in 770s.
First I do a circumambulation of the temple. The path around the temple is lined with pavilions housing slightly larger than life-sized statues of the Seventeen Panditas of Nalanda. See more on the Seventeen Panditas and Nalanda. Also see Prayer to the Seventeen Panditas.