First in modern history Khurul was opened 23 years ago

23 years ago, for the first time since the October Revolution, one of Europe's largest Buddhist monastery Geden Sheddup Choikorling was opened in Elista (Holy Monastery of the Enlightened Monks). This temple is the real embodiment of Kalmyks dream that come true. This was the greatest event originated by the first President of the Republic of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The Buddhist khurul, to which he donated a huge sum of personal funds and the construction of which he personally oversaw, was erected in less than a year and a half.


The first stone was laid at the foundation of the temple on 22 June, 1995, and its opening took place on 5 October, 1996. This date has forever entered the history of Kalmykia, as a point of reference for the new age, as a symbol of the rebirth, strength of spirit and fortitude of the people. They had to live through the cruellest trials of the Civil and Great Patriotic Wars, the 13-year-old Siberian exile, the long years of persecution of the faith, destruction of temples, corruption and demolition of sacred relics.

The old men who thanked the head of the republic could not hide their tears.
“If President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov did nothing but only built and opened this magnificent and majestic Buddhist temple in Elista, even then his name would be worthy of a thankful memory not only of the present but of many other generations of Kalmyk people,” wrote Kalmykia Izvestiya in those days  .
On 5 October, 1996, the President of Kalmykia said in his speech: “The road to our temple is paved with the sufferings and aspirations of many generations of Kalmyks who did not give up hope of worshiping their holy shrines in the harsh years of totalitarianism, nor in the era of the complete stagnation. Kalmykia has the right to be proud of finding such a precious treasure on its land. The temple was built with the goodwill of all believers, every family, every citizen, the whole people of Kalmykia.”
The Syakyusn-Sume, or Arsha Khurul, as it is called by the people, has become a favourite place of spiritual solitude not only for believers, but also for all who wish to enjoy the silence, to admire the colourful painting of the khurul’s walls.
In November 2004, His Holiness the Dalai Lama preached at the temple and behind its walls. And on 17 June 2005, the Kalmyk Khurul was visited by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to the republic.
Today, thanks to Ilyumzhinov, there are many Buddhist temples, stupas and other places of worship in all 13 districts and in many remote settlements in Kalmykia. But the first one was Geden Sheddup Choikorling, and with it a new page of the history of the spiritual revival of the people began.