Welcome to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda also known as the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. We are in the city of Xian, standing in front of the Da Ci’en Temple Complex of which the Pagoda is a part.The pagoda, constructed in 652 AD, during the Tang dynasty, is a Natural Cultural Relic Preserve and an AAAAA Tourist Attraction. It has also been added to the World Heritage List, along with other sites along the Silk Road.
So, are you ready? I hope you don’t have vertigo since we’re going to climb to the top!
Da Ci’en Temple – Squares and Gardens
Da Ci’en Temple – Big Wild Goose Pagoda – Squares and Gardens This is the best route to follow since it allows you to tour the temple, take in the views from the pagoda and relax in the gardens and enjoy the musical fountains.
Da Ci’en Temple
The Da Ci’en Temple was constructed in 648 AD during the Tang dynasty. Crown Prince Li Zhi ordered the construction of the temple in honour of his mother Queen Wende. The temple is home to the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower, the Mahavira Hall, the Sermon Hall, the Xuanzang Sansang Hall and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. At the entrance to the temple faces south and accommodates a giant bronze statue of Xuanzang.
At the temple gates are the four stone lions from the Qing dynasty. Upon entering, you can see the Bell Tower in the east and the Drum Tower in the west. Straight ahead lies the Mahavira Hall which contains three different Buddhist statues. Next is the Sermon Hall, which has a lower preaching room and an upper Buddhist Sutra Depository. Once you exit this you can see the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. Let’s continue.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda
We are now at the base of the pagoda. Take out your wallets because there is a charge of 40 Yuan to climb to the top. The pagoda was constructed in 652 AD during the reign of Emperor Gaozong. Its purpose was to house the sutras and statues of Buddha brought back by the renowned traveller and scholar Xuanzang. Xuanzang travelled to India to study Buddhism and studied under Silabhadra in the famous university of Nalanda. He finally returned to China with more than 600 sutras as well as statues of Lord Buddha. He became the abbot of the Da Ci’en Temple and worked on translating all the sutras from the Sanskrit in which they were written.
The original temple collapsed 50 years after it was built and was rebuilt by Empress Wu Zetian in 704 AD. Five new stories were added at this time. However, an earthquake, in 1556, damaged the pagoda and reduced the number of stories to 7. As you can see the entire structure leans to the west. The last renovation was done in 1964.
Inside the pagoda, the walls and doorways are carved with images of Lord Buddha. During the Tang dynasty, every candidate who passed the imperial examinations was expected to climb up the pagoda and inscribe poems on the walls. Candidates inscribed these poems on the stone framework and the bars above the doors. As you can see, many of these have survived today, providing a rich glimpse into the life and times of the poets.
There is a winding staircase that visitors can climb up. On each level there are four doors – one on each side. The final level provides a view of the entire city of Xian. An interesting superstition is that if you throw a coin from the windows you will be the recipient of good fortune. Best of luck!
Squares and Gardens
The temple and pagoda are surrounded by many squares, many of which are home to hotels and resorts that you can stay in. You must be tired from your long climb, however, so I suggest that we relax in the North Square which has the largest musical fountains in Asia.
These fountains light up in the evening with the pagoda providing a spectacular backdrop to an already scintillating sight. This was well worth a visit, wasn’t it? If you are in Xian, do not miss the pagoda and all the sights around it. You will not be sorry.