Mongolian believers are mostly Buddhists (Lamaists), a Buddhism intimately related to the Tibetan religious beliefs. In fact, it was the Mongols under Altan Khan (1507-83) who installed the first Dalai Lama in Lhasa (Dalai is a Mongol word meaning ocean). During the Stalinist regime of Choibalsan in the 1930s there was great persecution of the monks and many monasteries and temples were destroyed. Until recently there was only one functioning monastery in Mongolia, the Gandan monastery in Ulaanbaatar. Today under the democratization process there is a Buddhist revival all over Mongolia. New monasteries have sprung up, even in temporary shelters like gers. Monks who had been hidden in civil service have gone back into monkshood. For the last 60 years, they had been serving the herdsmen with clandestine religious services.
There has also been an Islamic revival among the Mongolian Kazakhs in the extreme west, and only recently the first Mongolian believers made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca.