In the mid 15th century Khan Jahan Ali, a Turkish Muslim saint, arrived to where Bagerhat lies today. He apparently liked the place so much that he founded a beautiful town with artificial ponds, palaces and impressive mosques otherwise unknown to the area. According to inscriptions on his tomb, he died in 1459 leaving behind a thriving Islamic culture along with some of the finest architecture in Bangladesh, with some of the mosques still standing today. His mausoleum is still considered a pilgrimage site where people come to pray and pay respect. In the pond in front of the shrine there are crocodiles which are believed to give good luck if touched (we kid you not).
Chairman Mao had wished to be cremated when he died, just like Lenin and Ho Chi Minh had, but just like Lenin and Ho Chi Minh he got embalmed and put on display for the public so they could honour their dear leader for many years to come. As a symbol, the mausoleum got built out of materials from all over China - apparently even sand from the Taiwan Straits. It proved more difficult to embalm the body and construct a transparent coffin, for the Soviets were the specialists and they didn't want to share their secrets with the enemy (remember this was during the Soviet-China tension). The Chinese got the embalming fixed by sharing notes with the Vietnamese, who had embalmed Ho Chi Minh 7 years before, but they had to work hard regarding the crystal casket. Mao Zedong's pickled corpse is still on display today and in the best Chinese tradition, you are forced through a cascade of Mao souvenir stands before exiting the mausoleum.
The Balkans has bred a few dictators and Croatia's contribution was Franjo Tuđman. He was the first president of Croatia and died in office in 1999. Reputedly Tuđman was not as brutal as other more well-known Balkan dictators like Yugoslavian Tito, Albanien Hoxha or Serbian Milošević, but he was a strong and autocratic leader, so opinions about him are therefor mixed. Nevertheless Tuđman has a fine memorial at Miogoj cemetery, which is often considered to be one of Europe finest cemetery. Tombs and graves from all kind of religions are represented, let it be Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, and others.
Ayatollah Khomeini's funeral hit the record in 1989 as the largest funeral ever held, with a crowd of 10 millions mourners. Today his tomb is located in the outskirts of Tehran in what seems to be a mausoleum under never ending construction. The huge complex resembles a mosque with tall minarets and gold dome. Everyone can enter and see the caged off shrine and hang around the vast area surrounding it. The mausoleum attracts a diverse range of locals from picnicking families over young couples seeking some privacy to mourners paying respect to His Holiness. It's truly a remarkable weird place.
Being descendants of largely nomadic ancestors, modern day Kazakhstan has few ancient architectural sites. The one exception (and one of only three UNESCO sites in the country) is the Mausoleum of Khwaja Ahmad Yasavi in the town of Turkestan. Commissioned in 1389 by Tamerlane (a Central Asian conquerer), the mausoleum was a replacement for a smaller one to the Sufi mystic Khwaja Ahmad Yasaviis. A quite similar structure to those found in neighbouring Uzbekistan, the mausoleum may not compare with the Uzbek ones. But for Kazakhstan, it is arguably the greatest architectural site. And most definitely the only thing to do in the tiny town of Turkestan.
Nicolae Ceaușescu (1918-1989) was Romania's dictator until 1989. After an ultra short anti-communist/Ceaușescu-cult revolt in Bucharest, he and his wife Elena fled the city by helicopter but were cornered by the army and executed on Christmas Day (December 25th) by a military firing squad after a short trial. Pictures of the bodies of the elegantly dressed dictator couple went around the world as a symbol of the collapse of Communist Romania. Today, the graves of Ceaușescu and wife can be seen at the Ghencea cemetery in the outskirts of Bucharest. The new marble tomb is strangely decorated with fresh flowers and candles left by those who apparently still regard the dictator couple highly.
Lenin died in 1924 and was embalmed, against his own wishes, as the fashion of the Soviet time dictated. His preserved body was then put on display for the public in a hastily built mausoleum right on the Red Square. The mausoleum was later upgraded to the granite and marble version you see today. When Stalin died in 1953, his body got the same treatment and joined Lenin in the mausoleum, but only shortly, for in 1961 he was removed and buried along the Kremlin Wall where other important men of Russia are buried. There are now talks about giving Lenin the burial he wanted, so hurry up if you want to have a look at the pickled Lenin.
Ho Chi Minh was not just the founder and leader of the Vietnamese communist party, he is considered the liberator and father of the modern nation of Vietnam. He created the independence movement Viet Minh who victorious fought both the Japanese, then the French, and in the end the South Vietnamese coalition, which included the Americans. Ho Chi Minh past away in 1969 during the Vietnam War, so he never lived to see his nation reunified and independent. Against his wish he got embalmed like the communist fashion dictated at the time, so today the pickled remains of Ho Chi Minh can be enjoyed at his fine mausoleum. Dress nicely, stand in line and behave for it is a serious affair to visit Uncle Ho.