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Big Wild Goose Pagoda

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Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Chinese:大雁塔)

Brief Introduction
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Big Wild Goose Pagoda, is a Buddhist pagoda located in southern Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China and became the symbol of the old-line Xi'an. It was built in 652 during the Tang dynasty and originally had five stories. The structure was rebuilt in 704 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, and its exterior brick facade was renovated during the Ming dynasty. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda attracts numerous visitors for its fame in the Buddhist religion and its simple but appealing style of construction. It is rated as a National Key Cultural Relic Preserve. One of the pagoda's many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveler Xuanzang.

History of Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Big Wild Goose Pagoda originally was built during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of Tang in 652, aimed to collect Buddhist materials that were taken from India by the hierarch Xuanzang, at a height of 54 m (177 ft) with five storeys. Xuanzang started off from Chang'an (the ancient Xian), along the Silk Road and through deserts, finally arriving in India, the cradle of Buddhism.  Enduring 17 years and traversing 100 countries, he obtained Buddha figures, 657 kinds of sutras, and several Buddha relics. Having gotten the permission of Emperor Gaozong (628-683), Xuanzang, as the first abbot of Da ci'en Temple, supervised the building of a pagoda inside it. With the support of royalty, he asked 50 hierarchs into the temple to translate Sanskrit in sutras into Chinese, totaling 1,335 volumes, which heralded a new era in the history of translation. Based on the journey to India, he also wrote a book entitled 'Pilgrimage to the West' in the Tang Dynasty, to which scholars attached great importance. This construction of rammed earth with a stone exterior facade collapsed five decades later. The ruling Empress Wu Zetian had the pagoda rebuilt and added five new stories by the year 704.

However, in 1556, a massive earthquake heavily damaged the pagoda and reduced it by three stories, to its current height of seven stories.

The structure leans very perceptibly (several degrees) to the west. Its related structure, the 8th century Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an, only suffered minor damage in the 1556 earthquake (unrepaired to this day). The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was extensively repaired during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) and renovated again in 1964. The pagoda currently stands at a height of 64 m (210 ft) tall and from the top it offers views over the city of Xi'an.

At present, this pagoda enjoys rich Buddhist culture, profound history of famous figures, splendid architectural art, etc. so it is regarded as the gem of Chinese ancient architectural history and a sacred Buddhist land. Now, it is both the landmark of Xi’an city and the vital place for the welcoming foreign leaders and friends.

What to see  in Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Da ci’en Temple
Originally built here in 589 A.D. in the Sui Dynasty, Da ci'en Temple was the most famous and grand temple in ancient Xi'an in Tang dynasty, having the function of commemorating the dead virtuous queen, for which the status and scale far exceeded all others. The emperor Lizhi in Tang dynasty sponsored a renovation project on the temple in memory of his mother's kindness when he was a prince. Ci'en means Kindness and Grace, that's the reason for the temple, Da ci'en Temple. It said that the emperor Lizhi pay homage to his mother twice a day by looking forwards the temple from his Palace. 

Today, The Da ci'en temple covers an area of 12.5 acres (50,738 square meters), one seventh of the original area, it still retains its grandeur. Being a major translating place for Buddhist text, this temple is especially rich in Buddhist culture. In front of the temple, there stands a statue of hierarch Xuanzang. With guarding lions at both sides of the gate, the temple seems stately for lions were said to function as talismans. You can stroll in the temple to appreciate the classic Buddhist temples of Chinese style and know more about Xuanzang's life and Buddhist religion.

Features of Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Outside the pagoda, being built of brick, without any cement, its structure is very firm. The storey pagoda is an architectural marvel, originally the pagoda had five stories, but was reconstructed into seven stories in Tang dynasty. The bracket style used in traditional Chinese architecture was also used in the construction of the pagoda. The seams between each layer of bricks and the "prisms" on each side of the pagoda are clearly visible. The grand body of the pagoda with its solemn appearance, simple style and high structure, is indeed a good example of Chinese traditional architecture. 

Inside the pagoda, stairs twist up so that visitors can climb and overlook the panorama of the city from the arch-shaped doors on four sides of each storey, you can admire the featured cultural relics and feel the dense atmosphere of Buddhism. On the walls are engraved fine statues of Buddha by the renowned artist Yan Liben of the Tang Dynasty. Steles by noted calligraphers also grace the pagoda. What's more, the gilding copper statue of Sakyamuni who is the founder of Buddhism is the main spot. For its sacred culture, groups of visitors come to look this statue with reverence at the 2nd floor. And you will have a full view sight of the ancient city after standing on the top of the pagoda. It has been one of the famous tourist attractions since Tang dynasty in ancient China.

Music Fountain Square
Located in the north square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Music Fountain Square covers an area of 150,000 square meters, which is the biggest fountains square and largest waterscape square in Asia. It equips with high technological lighting system and professional audio systems. What is most amazing is that the sound, the light, the water and the color of the fountain are harmoniously combined, which provide the locals and visitors with wonderful resort for fee and appreciate the grand colorful music fountain show dancing with the music.

How to get there
Bus Routes:  Tourist line No.6, 21, 22, 24, 601, 610, 501, 503
Metro Routes: 
1. Line 3 to Dayanta Station directly.
2. Line 2 to Xiaozhai Station (Exit C) and walk eastward for 10 minutes.

Information
Address: Yanta South Road, Southern Urban of Xian
Admission Fee: CNY 30;  Entrance Fee of Da ci'en Temple: CNY 50
Opening Time: 8:00-17:00
Time for Visit: 2-3 hours 

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