The New York Times has a new feature on the new statue of Mongolia’s most well-known historical figure, Genghis Khan. The 13th century emperor and conqueror of much of Asia and the Middle East has become a contemporary icon — Mongolians have put his name and or visage on the airport, currency and in a huge statue near the Parliament building.
The “Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex,” which opened last fall, is a huge area located in Tsonjin Boldog, about 50 kilometers outside the capital, Ulan Bator. The Genco Tour Bureau, a Mongolian tourism company found in 1997, spent $4.1 million on the statue, which towers in 40 meters of steel above the surrounding plain.
The Times reports on the activities available to tourists besides the huge statue itself:
Inside the two-story base of the statue, which opened last September, visitors can see a replica of Genghis Khan’s legendary golden whip, sample traditional cuisine — heavy on the horse meat and potatoes — and experience some decidedly un-nomadic customs, like billiards.
Although there is no evidence to back up its claim, the company contends that the site is where Genghis Khan found the whip, traditionally considered an auspicious omen, that inspired his future conquests. Like Genghis Khan, the company is intent on expanding its empire. Several miles away at a “13th-century national park,” the more adventuresome can milk horses, spin wool and watch a shaman ceremony. A spa, hotel and golf course are also in the works.
However, the newspaper notes that Mongolia has done very little to explore the complicated nature of Genghis Khan, who is considered by many to be a destructive, imperial force, particularly in Iraq, Iran, and the surrounding areas.