Mausoleum of Genghis Khan

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Coordinates: 39°22′16″N 109°46′46″E / 39.37111°N 109.77944°E / 39.37111; 109.77944

Main hall of the temple, with incense burner in front.
A side view of the complex.

The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan (Chinese: 成吉思汗陵) is a temple devoted to the worship of Genghis Khan. It is located along a river in Kandehuo Enclosure, Xinjie Town, Ejen Khoruu Banner, Ordos Prefecture-Level City (formerly Yeke Juu league), Inner Mongolia, People's Republic of China. Genghis Khan worship is a religion popular among Mongolians, with ties to traditional Mongolian shamanism.[1] There are other temples of this worship culture in Inner Mongolia and Northern China.[2][3]

The mausoleum is a cenotaph, where the coffin contains no body but only headdresses and accessories, because the actual Tomb of Genghis Khan has never been discovered. It was built between 1954 and 1956 by the government of the PRC in the traditional Mongol style. The mausoleum is located in the town of Ejin Horo Qi, 115 kilometers (71 mi) north of Yulin, and 55 kilometers (34 mi) south of Dongsheng. There is a new interchange (39°20′10″N 109°50′23″E / 39.33611°N 109.83972°E / 39.33611; 109.83972) on highway 210 leading directly to the site.


Mausoleum in 1897 as photographied by Charles-Eudes Bonin (fr)
Guardians of the mausoleum in 1897
Localisation of the Mausoleum as his sepultur in 18th century

After Genghis Khan died around Gansu, his coffin was carried to central Mongolia. According to his will, he was buried without any markings. The burial place is unknown. Instead of the real tomb, portable mausoleums called naiman tsagaan ger (eight white yurts) enshrined him. They were originally palaces where Genghis Khan lived, but were altered to mausoleums by Ögedei Khan. They settled at the base of the Khentii Mountains. The site, located in Delgerkhaan Sum, Khentii Aimag, Mongolia, is called the Avraga site.

Those who served the mausoleums were called the "Darkhad". Their leader, chosen from the Borjigin clan, was called Jinong since the first Jinong Kamala was appointed as the King of Jin. They lived on the Kherlen River but later moved to Ordos. The name of Ordos was derived from a plural form of the word ordon (palace), which sometimes replaces the ger (yurt) in the designation of the portable mausoleums. In the mausoleums, various ceremonies were conducted and pilgrims visited. Coronation ceremonies of Mongol Khans were also held there.

The mausoleums were protected by the Qing Dynasty, but the chaos of the Dungan revolt, and, after the fall of the dynasty, the Warlord era, World War II, and the Chinese Civil War that followed the fall of the Qing Dynasty brought disruption to the Ordus. The growing adaptation of the agrarian lifestyle destroyed the pastoral economy of the Ordus. During and after World War II the mausoleum was moved away from the front and came to stay for several years in Gansu and Qinghai.

The mausoleums were singled out as the symbol of the Mongol nation by some Mongol nationalists. The Buryat Mongolian scholar Jamtsarano recommended the Darkhad to move to Northern Mongolia around 1910. In 1949 Prince Demchugdongrub, founder of Mengjiang, met the mausoleums in Bayankhota of Alashan. This symbolic event deeply impressed the prince and his subjects.

The new mausoleum was constructed by the government of Inner Mongolia from 1954 to 1956, despite Ordos opposition.[citation needed] The government abolished the traditional portable mausoleums and moved their historic relics to the new mausoleum. It also dismissed 500 family Darkhad so that only seven or eight Darkhad served the mausoleum. During the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards destroyed the mausoleum[citation needed] and valuable treasures were lost. It was rebuilt later, but replicas had to be made for some lost treasures.

There are other non-portable mausoleums of Genghis Khan. In 1864 Prince Toghtakhutörü (To Vang) built a mausoleum in Setsen Khan Aimag with assistance from the Darkhad. The ambitious prince seems to have demonstrated his legitimacy by enshrining Chinggis Khan. As part of purge of Buddhism, it was destroyed in 1937. There is another non-portable mausoleum of Genghis Khan in Ulan Hot. It was built by Colonel Kanagawa Kosaku of the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942 to arouse nationalistic sentiment among the Mongols.

In 1939 Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist) soldiers took the mausoleum from its position at the "Lord's Enclosure" (Mongolian: Edsen Khoroo) in Mongolia to protect it from Japanese troops. It was taken through Communist-held territory in Yan'an some 900 km on carts to safety at a Buddhist monastery, the Dongshan Dafo Dian, where it remained for ten years. In 1949, as Communist troops advanced, the Nationalist soldiers moved it another 200 km further west to the famous Tibetan Kumbum Monastery or Ta'er Shi near Xining, which soon fell under Communist control. In early 1954, Genghis Khan's bier and relics were returned to the Lord's Enclosure in Mongolia. By 1956 a new temple was erected there to house them.[4] In 1968 during the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards destroyed almost everything of value. The "relics" were remade in the 1970s and a great marble statue of Genghis was completed in 1989.[5]


The Mausoleum is in a rectangular cemetery. Within the mausoleum, which appears like three Mongolian yurts externally, there are four chambers and two halls:

  • Main Palace (正殿): 26-metre high; octagonal
    • contains a 5-metre white-jade statue of Genghis Khan
    • two murals depicting his life
  • Resting Palace (寢宮) or Inner Palace (後殿): 20-m high
    • 7 coffins:
      • Genghis Khan
      • 3 khan-consorts
      • Tolui (托雷), Genghis Khan's fourth son.
      • Tolui's wife, Sorghaghtani
  • East Palace (東殿): 20-m high
  • West Palace (西殿): 23-m high
    • 9 banners of the 9 generals
  • East Hall (東廊): 20-m high
  • West Hall: 20-m high


The mausoleum is guarded by the Darkhad (達爾滬特), meaning "the privileged ones".

Mongols gather four times annually:

  1. March 21: most important
  2. May 15
  3. September 21
  4. October 3

They follow traditional ceremonies, such as offering flowers and food to the Heaven. After the ceremonies, there are competitions, such as wrestling, horse-riding, archery, and singing.[6]


  1. ^ Man (2004) pp. 402-404
  2. ^ 成吉思汗召 Archived 2013-07-24 at the Wayback Machine..
  3. ^ 成吉思汗祠.
  4. ^ Man (2004), pp. 329-333.
  5. ^ Man (2004), p. 338.
  6. ^ Almaz Khan, "Chinggis Khan, From Imperial Ancestor to Ethnic Hero," in Harrell, Stevan, Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers, pp. 248-77.


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