During my first few months in China, I traveled with Katie to northern Inner Mongolia
, where we learned a lot about Genghis Khan and his legacy. I couldn't get enough, so a year later, when I heard about a giant memorial to Genghis Khan in the middle of nowhere, I decided that I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to see it.
For the first leg of my journey, I hopped on a train from Beijing to Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia. Despite it being fall, the weather was hot and sunny, and I spent a couple of days checking out this interesting city.
Fall colors in Hohhot.
This guy was working on his calligraphy skills in the park. He used water for “paint”, so all of that effort would soon evaporate.
A beautiful park in Hohhot.
The river that runs through the park.
Hands down, the best mutton stew I have had in China. It would be worth traveling back to Hohhot just to get another bowl.
Nuts and grains for sale.
Lots of people were walking and cycling around Hohhot's Muslim district. Here are a few of them:
One of the city's main Muslim markets.
The Great Mosque has mini-palms outside, despite the fact that it is in a cold part of China.
This is your gateway to fun.
This woman is carving wooden beads for a necklace.
After Hohhot, I went for the highlight of this short journey: Genghis Khan's mausoleum. It was in the middle of nowhere in Inner Mongolia, so it was kind of hard to get to. And it rained all day. And this was a cenotaph, where there is a coffin but no actual body, because nobody knows where the Great Khan is buried. It's said that in order to keep the location a secret, all of the priests who participated in the burial were killed by guards, and then those guards were killed by another set of guards. But even lacking Khan's actual remains, the compound was interesting, with lots of ancient(-ish) artifacts.
This is the main building. No photography was allowed inside. The walls were painted with giant murals depicting Mongolian history, and there was a large altar dedicated to the Great Kahn himself.
Here is one of the memorial mounds outside of the main building.
I'm the one in the back, with the red jacket.
Ancient Mongolian kid's shirt.
A dragon chalice.
A bronze dog from the Yuan dynasty.
A figure wall painting from the Qing dynasty.
A modern ger for the modern Mongolian family.
Dongsheng, the nearest city to the mausoleum, had some interesting sculptures in its parks.
Genghis Kahn's legacy is inescapable in this region.
To be honest, the mausoleum left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. Not that it wasn't impressive, because it was. I think what kept me from loving it was the crappy weather, the lack of public transportation and the high entrance fee. I spent a lot of money going there, and I think that unless you're an absolute Mongolian buff, it's probably not worth the long journey.
Has anyone else out there been to this mausoleum? What did you think?
Here are some more of my pictures from Inner Mongolia.