The Chinngis Khan Equestrian Statue is a 40-meter-high memorial to the Mongol Emperor that is said to be the world's largest. Looking towards his birthplace, the statue in Tsonjin Boldog also commemorates a site where legend says he found a golden whip.
Mongolia – Fact Check

"Chinggis Khan was just the ultimate nomad"

Photo by Frank Wagner / Getty

Mongolia – Fact Check "Chinggis Khan was just the ultimate nomad"

Horses have been the cornerstones of Mongolian civilization since the 13th century and nowhere is this more evident than at Tsonjin Boldog.

Gavin Haines
Gavin Haines Travel Writer

Home to the spectacular Chinggis Khan Equestrian Statue, this remote Mongolia hamlet might seem like an incongruous location for a 40-meter stainless steel cenotaph, but apparently this is the place where the celebrated “strong ruler” found his golden whip. That was a good enough reason to build the world’s largest statue of a rider on a horse at a reported cost of $4.1million, although the price does include plans for a spa, hotel and golf course as well as the planting of 10,000 trees.

Inside the museum, I am bundled into a lift and whisked up a shaft within the horse’s leg. The lift opens at roughly the point where Chinggis Khan’s crotch meets the horse’s saddle and opens out onto a small staircase, which leads up the steed’s mane to a viewing platform on its head.

Turning around I see the steely-faced conqueror looming large above me in the saddle. His ferocious gaze sends a shiver down my spine – or perhaps that is just the wind. I bask in the silence and take in the panorama, realizing that the setting sun is casting Khan’s giant shadow across the steppe, much as it would have done back in the 13th century.

At its height, his Mongol Empire covered a third of the earth’s land area, from Siberia to the Middle East and reaching as far west as Poland. “In many ways, Chinggis Khan was just the ultimate nomad,” says military historian Tom Sizewell.

“He seems to have just set out to see what was over the horizon and never tried to hold on to any land he conquered. He kept moving on to fresh pastures. Even his grave has never been found as it was trampled by a thousand horsemen to discourage robbers.” I am not surprised to hear that he once said: “Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard.”

“The secret of his success was an army of cavalrymen who could ride 80km a day, a remarkable feat achieved by having a string of four horses each,” says Sizewell. “The horses also sustained their riders on a diet of mare’s milk mixed with small doses of blood drawn from a vein.”

No wonder the Mongols developed a mystical connection to their mounts; with that diet they must have felt at least half-horse.

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