Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Da Ci'en Temple

Da Ci'en Temple is located about 4km south of Xi'an city center. In it stands the Great Wild Goose Pagoda, which is one of the most famous and important Buddhist pagodas in China.

Originally built in 652 AD by Emperor Li Zhi (Emperor Gaozong) of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) it contained five stories built of earth with a stone fa├žade and stood 60 meters high. Its function was to hold the Buddhist materials that were taken from India by the hierarch Xuan Zang. Here is where Xuan Zang and other hierarchs studied and translated 1,335 volumes of Indian Sanskrit into Chinese which was a major point in history of Chinese translation.

This structure collapsed and a 10 storey pagoda was rebuilt in 710 AD by the Empress Wu Zetian. A huge earthquake in 1556 ruined the pagoda and resulted in the construction of the 64 meter high, 7-storey structure standing today. Its brickwork is specially admired because no cement was used during building. Visitors like to climb to each story inside and enjoy the wonder view in all directions of Xi'an and its landscape.

Da Ci'en Temple was first built in 589 AD and was called Wu Lou (Five Story) Temple. In 648 AD, the crown prince Li Zhi ordered the restoration on the temple in honour of his mother who had died and renamed it Da Ci'en (Mercy and Kindness). Covering an area today of 32,314 square meters, it originally was 7 times this size. A statue of Xuan Zang stands in front of the temple and as you enter you can see the drum tower to the west and the bell tower to the east. The bell in the tower weighs 15 tons and was cast in 1548.

Other buildings here include the Hall of Mahavira which has three carved statues of Sakyamuni and 18 arhats including Xuanzang. The Hall of Xuan Zang Sanzang houses a bronze statue of Xuan Zang and his relic, and carved murals of his history decorate the walls of the hall. Another building is the Sermon Hall where Buddhists gathered to hear sermons.

The large North Square around the Great Wild Goose Pagoda is a nice area to stroll or rest. It holds many records for large scale design among its pathways, fountains, water features, cultural square and gardens.