Tonghu Grassland Experience in Ningxia, China
One of the highlights of my 5-day stay in Ningxia, China, last October 2017 is the Tonghu Grassland visit. This grassland is located in the Xingqing District and I was amazed with its beauty. It’s a paradise of rolling hills, meadows, and wildflowers that stretch as far as the eyes can see!
Tonghu Grassland is one of the Mongolian settlements along the Silk Road. The experience was remarkable with its scenic views, nomadic cultures, and varied wildlife. We could witness the yurts (Mongolian tents) set up for visitors like us. As we walked through the grassland, I couldn’t help but marvel at the different shades of green all around me!
“Three Games of Men, Known as Naadam.
Our group arrived at the place around 5 PM to witness the Mongolian Bonfire Party known as Naadam. It’s a re-enactment of a Mongolian Wedding Ceremony that displays the “Three games of Men,” widely performed among Mongols during important festivals.
The three games are archery, horse racing, and wrestling. The area was filled with people of all ages who were excitedly preparing for the night’s festivities. Everyone cheered as soon as a band began to play traditional Mongolian music. I felt like my heart had been put into the sky and dancing alongside me! I was overcome with joy, even more so when they lit up the bonfire at the center of the stage, its flames reaching toward the stars above us.
I enjoyed most when the audience was asked to join the dance and wrestling competition. During the wrestling battle, the atmosphere was so intense as the participant was determined to win. The contest took more than 5 minutes and ended with a draw.
Wrestling is considered the most important of the “Three games of Men.” It is one of Genghis Khan’s ways to keep his army fit and ready for battle during his reign. Wrestling is also a way for Mongols to unite and share their culture. Moreover, it helps to create strong bonds among the people, which I could feel during the celebration. It was inspiring to see how even young children were involved in the match, cheering on the wrestlers from the sidelines as if they were adults.
Being able to appreciate one’s own culture is essential for everyone. Mongolians understand this deeply, which is why they participate in such festivals with passion and enthusiasm. Experiencing this has taught me that we should never take our heritage for granted. We should always strive to preserve it and pass down its traditions to future generations.
You can enjoy other activities, including horse riding on the grassland and Camel Riding in the Desert. Horse riding on the grassland gives you freedom and allows you to appreciate its untouched beauty. You can also try Mongolian dishes and dine in one of the beautiful Mongolian tents. It’s the best way to experience its culture.
Ningxia is an extraordinary place with unique experiences that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Visiting this country has broadened my perspective and inspired me to keep learning more about it.
I am very thankful that I had the chance to experience this unique festival and to have an opportunity to understand more about the culture and history of the Mongols. It is something I will remember for years to come.
I am a travel photographer based in Ontario, Canada, and I love my work. Capturing those incredible images of breathtaking landscapes and fascinating cities makes me tick. Through photography, I explore the world, tell stories and capture moments that will last forever. It has taken me all around the globe, allowing me to learn new things, meet people from different countries, and see inspiring places I would have otherwise misse
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