Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/345

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277
URGA, THE SACRED CITY

ma-chin from the Russian settlement which occupies the highest part of the ridge, dominating everything in a significant way. It centres in the consulate, a large white building surrounded by high walls, but more prominent is the tall red Russo-Asiatic Bank close by. Other buildings are a church and a few houses and shops. The Russian Consulate also is well fortified, with the last contrivances for defence,—walls, ditches, wire entanglements,—and it looks fit to stand a siege.

Before reaching Urga proper, the Mongol or lama city, which lies about three miles farther west, shut off from the others by a branch of the Tola, you pass the headquarters of the Chinese governor, and he, too, has entrenched himself behind strong earthworks. Ta Huren, the "Great Encampment," as the Mongols call Urga, which is not a Mongol word at all, but merely a modification of the Russian "urgo," a camp or palace, is a network of palisaded lanes enclosing, not comfortable houses and offices and banks, as in Mai-ma-chin, but temples and lamasseries. And well within these is the most sacred spot of all, the lamassery where dwells enthroned Bogdo or the Gigin, the Living Buddha ranking after the Dalai Lama and the Tashi Lama only.

To Bogdo the Mongol millions look up as a god; he is the living representative of the divine one; and the city where he lives is the goal of thousands of