Baotou, from Mongolian, literally translated to “place with deer”. Located in North China and the southern end of the Mongolian Plateau, it is the largest city in Inner Mongolia and one of the most economically developed cities in Inner Mongolia. Baotou used to be the place where the nomadic people in the north lived and reproduced. The unique geographical location and the exchange and development of various cultures have left countless tourist treasures for Baotou, such as Wudangzhao and Meidaizhao are the crystallization of the interweaving of Tibetan and Mongolian cultures.
Situated on Jihuluntu Mountain, 54 kilometers north of Baotou City, Wudangzhao Monastery is one of the four largest Tibetan Buddhist temples in China, together with Potala Palace in Tibet, Ta’er Monastery in Qinghai, and Labrang Monastery in Gansu. This solemn and grand monastery consists of six halls for chanting Buddhist scriptures, three Living Buddha mansions, one funeral hall, and more than 60 lama dormitories, etc.
“Wudangzhao” is a Mongolian name, which means willow. The temple got the name because of the surrounding prosperous willow. Tibetans call it “Badagar”, which means “the White Lotus”. Named after the first Living Buddha Agwangqurimo saw the sign of the white lotus and chose the site to build this temple.
It is a religious and political temple and a research base for Tibetan Buddhism (Tantra), philosophy, medicine, astronomy, geography, and many other disciplines. In the Qing Dynasty, most of the abbots in the nearly 1000 Tibetan Buddhist temples all over the Inner Mongolia prairie were sent from Wudangzhao or had studied in Wudangzhao. Therefore, Wudangzhao is also known as the “Tsinghua University and Peking University”, the highest institution of Tibetan Buddhism in Inner Mongolia. Ever since the temple was built, it has been flourishing with worshipers. At its peak, there were more than 1,200 lamas and it enjoyed a high reputation in the Inner Mongolian and Tibetan areas.
According to statistics, there are more than 1,500 Buddhist statues, and abundant murals reflecting the historical characters, customs, myths, and beautiful landscape. All the collections in the Wudangzhao Monastery are precious materials for studying the history and culture of local minorities.
Meidaizhao is located in Meidaizhao Village, about 65 kilometers away from Baotou City.
It was built in 1565 as a fortified capital city of the Altan Khan Kingdom in the Ming Dynasty by Altan Khan, a descendant of Kublai Khan.
After the Altan Khan moved the Kingdom to Hohhot, the Meidaizhao fortress was transformed into a lamasery in 1606.
The present temple occupies an area of 4000 square meters encompassing the over 200 ancient buildings of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The architectural style imitates the Chinese style of the Central Plains but integrates Mongolian and Tibetan styles. The temple retains a large number of vivid and realistic Buddhist historical murals, which are well preserved and breathtaking, so the monastery is regarded as the “fresco museum”.
The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan’s Mausoleum was built in 1954 in Ordos City, about 185 km from Baotou City, and it is more of a memorial park rather than a mausoleum.
Genghis Khan was the hero of the Mongol Empire and an outstanding politician and militarist in world history. He reunified the chaotic Inner Mongolia prairie and made enormous contributions to the founding of the powerful Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the unification of China. Due to this great feat, he was respected as ‘Genghis Khan’ by Mongols, meaning ‘powerful king’ in Mongolian. Today, Genghis Khan is still worshipped and remembered by his people.
It is said, upon his death, Genghis Khan asked to be buried in secret. Today, the actual place of Genghis Khan’s mausoleum remains a mystery.
As the symbol of Genghis Khan’s soul, the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan has been a holy place to memory Genghis Khan for more than 700 years. Covering an area of about 5.5 hectares, the main structures of the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan are three grand halls, which are shaped like Mongolian yurts, and the corridors which link the three halls. By visiting, travelers could learn the history and culture of the Mongolian group and even the nomadic people in northern China.
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