As the symbol of the old-line Xi'an, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (also called 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 (2.5 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 and its simple but appealing style of construction. The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was added to the World Heritage List on June 22, 2014, together with other sites along the ancient Silk Road.
This whole scenic area include the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, the Da Ci'en Temple, and the various squares, gardens and other facilities around.
Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
It was built in the year 652, the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), originally it was used to collect Buddhist materials that were brought back to China from India by the hierarch Xuanzang.
Started off from Chang'an (the ancient Xi'an), travelling along the Silk Road, passing through deserts,Xuanzang finally arrive India, the cradle of Buddhism. After the 17-year expedtion and tvisiting 100 countries, he obtained Buddha figures, 657 kinds of sutras, and several Buddha relics. With the permission of Emperor Gaozong (628-683), Xuanzang was titled the first abbot of Da Ci'en Temple, he also supervised the building of a pagoda inside the temple. With the support of royalty, he asked 50 hierarchs into the temple to translate Sanskrit in sutras into Chinese, totaling 1,335 volumes, which proclaimed a new era in the history of translation.
When the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was completed, it was 60 meters high (197 feet) with five storeys. Later on, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda was added another 2 storeys, and it reaches 64.5 meters (211.6 feet) high nowadays. It was said that the famous Chinese proverb ' the value of Saving a life exceeds building a seven-storey pagoda' originated from the building of this pagoda. Externally Big Wild Goose Pagoda 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 the 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.
As for the reason why it is called Giant 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 its name.
Big Ci'en Temple(Da Ci En Si)
Da Ci'en Temple is the home of Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. In 648, the temple is built to commemorate the dead virtuous queen, for which the status and scale far exceeded all others. Today, with an area of 50,738 square meters (12.5 acres), one seventh of the original area, it still retains its grandeur.
Before the temple, there stands a statue of hierarch Xuanzang, the meritorious hierarch. With guarding lions at both sides of the gate, 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. Along the central axis are arranged the Hall of Mahavira, Sermon Hall, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, and the Hall of Xuanzang Sanzang.
Squares and Gardens around Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
There are many featured squares and gardens around the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and temple, which provides the locals and tourists with wonderful resorts for free. The most remarkable one should be the North Square boasting the largest musical fountain in Asia. Besides, the Tang Ci'en Temple Site Park and the Shaanxi Opera Garden to the east, the Shaanxi Folk Customs Garden to the west, as well as the South Square with the statue of Monk Xuanzang and the Great Tang All Day Mall to the south are also worth visiting.