The Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayan Ta),is a Buddhist pagoda built in 652 AD during the Tang Dynasty and originally had five stories.The original construction of rammed earth with a stone exterior facade eventually collapsed five decades later but was rebuilt by Empress Wu Zetian in 704AD who added five more stories.
A massive earthquake in 1556 heavily damaged the pagoda and reduced it by three stories to its current height of seven stories One of the pagoda’s many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by Xuanzang, a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator.
Xuanzang is a prominent Buddhist figure mostly known for his seventeen year overland trip to India and back, which is recorded in detail in his autobiography and a biography, and which provided the inspiration for the epic novel “Journey to the West”. The pagoda is built on the premises of the Temple of Great Maternal Grace (Da Ci’en), originally built in 589 AD and then rebuilt 647 AD by the Tang Emperor Gaozong in memory of his mother Empress Wende. Before the gates of the temple stands a statue of Xuanzang.
As the symbol of the old-line Xi’an, Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists. It is located in the southern suburb of Xi’an City, about 4 kilometers (2.49 miles) from the downtown of the city. Standing in the Da Ci’en Temple complex, it attracts numerous visitors for its fame in the Buddhist religion, its simple but appealing style of construction, and its new square in front of the temple. It is rated as a National Key Cultural Relic Preserve as well as an AAAA Tourist Attraction.
This attraction can be divided into three parts: the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Da Ci’en Temple, and the North Square of Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda Originally built in 652 during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), it functioned to collect Buddhist materials that were taken from India by the hierarch Xuanzang.
Xuanzang started off from Chang’an (the ancient Xi’an), 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.
First built to a height of 60 meters (197 feet) with five stories, it is now 64.5 meters (211.6 feet) high with an additional two stories. It was said that after that addition came the saying-‘Saving a life exceeds building a seven-storied pagoda’. Externally it looks like a square cone, simple but grand and it is a masterpiece of Buddhist construction. Built of brick, its structure is very firm. Inside the pagoda, stairs twist up so that visitors can climb and overlook the panorama of Xi’an City from the arch-shaped doors on four sides of each storey. 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.
The name of The Big Wild Goose Pagoda
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, for 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’.
Extended reading:The Small Wild Goose Pagoda Of Xi’an
Reference: 1-2 hours of advice
Traffic：Take a number of 21, 521, and other buses to go to the big Yanta station.
Tickets free, music fountain free，Bell Tower and Drum Tower night view (free of charge)
Opening Hours：Open all day long
Music fountain show time——Monday – Friday: 12:00, 20:30 (Tuesday dance fountain equipment routine maintenance, the day off);Saturday – Sunday: 12:00, 14:00.
Winter (November – January) the fountain performance evening is 20:30.