Mausoleum of Genghis Kahn

Mausoleum of Genghis Kahn

Near the city of Ordos in Inner Mongolia can be found the Mausoleum of Genghis Kahn.  This is not the resting place of Genghis Kahn, since it is unknown where his remains actually lie.  Rather, it is a collection of his treasures and  a holy place.

Entrance Gate
The entrance gate to the Mausoleum of Genghis Kahn

Originally there was no fixed mausoleum – instead Genghis Kahn’s treasures were protected by the “Darkhad” who would wander around Mongolia so people could perform ceremonies in Kahn’s name.  In the 50s the government of China put a stop to this, forcing them to build a permanent mausoleum instead.  The 500 Darkhad were reduced to less than a dozen.

Genghis Kahn Statue
A statue of Genghis Kahn atop one of his holy horses.

During the Cultural Revolution the Mausoleum was destroyed, but has since been rebuilt.  As a result of this, many of the treasures housed here are replicas of the originals.  This doesn’t stop people visiting to pray – one of the locals said that people generally visit once per week to pray to Genghis Kahn.

Holy Horse Sign
People are reminded not to approach the holy horses.

One of the first things we notice on entering the Mausoleum site were the signs warning us not to approach the ‘holy horses’.  We didn’t see any of these horses while exploring the site, but my guess is that these horses are supposed to be the descendants of Genghis Kahn’s horses, and that they wander the site freely.

On approach to the Mausoleum
On approach to the Mausoleum.

As we approached the mausoleum we spotted the ‘sacrifice site’ to the right of the Mausoleum.  Approaching this reminded me of Tibet:  an alter covered in bright and colourful flags and scarves.  Many of the flags had Tibetan script written on them – this was definitely a holy place for Chinese Bhuddists.

"Sacrificial" Altar
The altar covered with Tibetan-Bhuddist flags.

Inside the Mausoleum we saw the treasures of Genghis Kahn.  Many were replicas and obviously fake (unless Mongolians used simplified Chinese back in the day), however the giant jade statue of Genghis Kahn was hugely impressive.  There are also several coffins for members of Kahn’s family – each contained within their own yurt.  Unfortunately no pictures are allowed inside the Mausoleum so if you want to see it you’ll have to pay a visit yourself.

Leaving the Mausoleum.


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