Genghis Khan was born in the early 1160's (it has been argued between 1162 and 1167, but recently agreement has been made for 1167), the son of the Kiyat-Borjigid chieftain Yisugei. He was named Temujen because, at the time of his birth, his father had captured a Tatar chieftain of the same name. Legend says that the newborn Temujen had a bloodclot in the palm of his hand, an omen that he was destined to be a hero.
When Temujen was a boy, his father was poisoned by a group of Tatars, and the Kiyat tribe broke up and scattered, abandoning their chief's family and leaving Temujen's mother, Ho'elun, to raise her children alone. Accounts of Temujen glorify him as intelligent, brave, and an adept fighter, even from an early age, and as such a potential threat to the leaders of other tribes of the steppe. As a young man, despite extreme hardships, he repeatedly met perils and endured crises through force of character and willpower.
In 1189, after he was elected the new leader of the Kiyat, he embarked on a series of military campaigns to unify the peoples of the steppe. In 1206, after a series of skilful victories, Temujen was acknowledged as supreme leader of the steppe at a khuriltai, a traditional meeting of tribal leaders to decide upon the future military and state matters. He was given the title of Genghis Khan meaning "emperor of all emperors" or "oceanic ruler". Genghis Khan's campaigns and those of his descendants led to the creation of an immense empire that stretched from Hungary to Korea.
According to legend, Genghis Khan passed through the Ordos area during his final battle campaign and was so taken with the beautiful grasslands that he dropped his horsewhip. When attendants went to fetch it, Genghis told them to let it be and expressed a desire to be buried in the Ordos grasslands. The attendants buried the horsewhip on the spot and erected a ceremonial stone mount over it. Since the early Qing dynasty (1614-1911), there has been a shrine to Genghis Khan's memory located at the site where this event is purported to have occurred.