THE GIANT WILD GOOSE PAGODA

It was on Sunday, 18 October 2009, when Rocky, our local tour guide from Xi'an, took us for a visit to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. It is located in the southern suburb of Xi'an City, about 4 kilometers (2.49 miles) from the downtown Xi'an. This was one of the different landmarks and attractions we saw during our two-day stay in the city of Xi'an which is a sub-provincial city and the capital of the Shaanxi province in the People's Republic of China. The pagoda is regarded as the symbol of Xian City.

As for the reason why it is called Big Wild Goose Pagoda, there is a legend. According to ancient stories of Buddhists, there were two branches of Buddhism, one of which eating meat was not a taboo. One day, they couldn't find meat to buy. Upon seeing a group of big wild geese flying by, a monk said to himself: 'Today we have no meat. I hope the merciful Bodhisattva will give us some.' At that very moment, the leading wild goose broke its wings and fell to the ground. All the monks were startled and believed that Bodhisattva showed his spirit to order them to be more pious. They established a pagoda where the wild goose fell and stopped eating meat. Hence it got the name 'Big Wild Goose Pagoda'.

The following information is what I gathered from books, tour pamplets, and other references about the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Big Wild Goose Pagoda ... it is a Buddhist pagoda located in southern Xi'an and was built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty. It originally had five stories and the structure was rebuilt in 704 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian and its exterior brick facade renovated during the Ming Dynasty. The pagoda currently stands at a height of 64 meters tall and from the top it offers views over the city of Xi'an. Unluckily, access to the top of the pagoda was close during our visit that we were not able to climb up to see the view.

At the grounds before you enter the temple is a statue of the Buddhist mong Xuanzang, the meritorious hierarch. Walking on and across a small bridge, visitors will see the gates of the temple. With guarding lions, the temple seems stately for lions were said to function as talismans.

Entering the temple you will see two buildings-Bell Tower in the east and Drum Tower in the west. Inside the Bell Tower hangs an iron bell 15 tons (14.76 gross tons) in weight. It was molded in 1548 in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Along the central axis are arranged the Hall of Mahavira, Sermon Hall, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and the Hall of Xuanzang Sanzang.

One of the pagoda's many functions was to hold sutras (scriptural narrative, especially a text traditionally regarded as a discourse of the Buddha) and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveller Xuanzang.

The pagoda was built with layers of bricks without any cement in between. The seams between each layer of bricks and the so-called "prisms" on each side are clearly visible. It was designed and supervised by the first head of the pagoda, Xuan Zang. It was used to keep large amounts of the treasures like Sanskrit Buddhism Classics, and Buddhist relics brought from India. The solemn layout and high structure exemplifies the greatness of the Chinese ancient architecture.

The ruling Empress Wu Zetian had the pagoda rebuilt and added five new stories by the year 704 AD. However, a massive earthquake in 1556 heavily damaged the pagoda and reduced it by three stories. The entire structure leans very perceptibly (several degrees) to the west.

Close to the pagoda is the Temple of Great Maternal Grace. This temple was originally built in AD 589 by Li Zhi (who later became the Tang Emperor Gaozong) and then rebuilt AD 647 in memory of his mother Empress Wende.

To view the pictures I took during our tour of the Wild Goose Pagoda, just click on the link shown below:

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda




During our visit to the City of Xi'an we stayed at the Sheraton Xi'an Hotel which is situated in the business district. The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and the Shaanxi History Museum are 8 km (5 mi) and 7 km (4.5 mi), respectively, from the hotel. The farthest attraction we visited during our stay in Xi'an was the archaeological site of the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China. We had to travel 38 km (23.5 mi) to get there.