The Big Wild Goose Pagoda was built in 652 A.D. during the Sui Dynasty. On the original site there originally stood a temple. It was
initially called the Wu Lou (Five Storey) Temple. It was not until 648 A.D. that Li Zhi, then still a crown prince, sponsored a renovation project on the temple in memory of his mother and her kindness after she suffered an early death. It was finished in 652 A.D. The temple then assumed its other present name: Temple of Kindness and Grace. When Li Zhi became the Tang Emperor Gaozong, he was said to pay homage to his mother twice a day by looking towards the temple from his Hanyuan Palace. Though no one is absolutely certain, it is said that the "Big Wild Goose" name comes from the classic novel Journey to the West, the novel inspired by Xuan Zang’s adventures to India to collect sacred Buddhist texts, Journey to the West features a fanciful version of his journey in the company of a mischievous monkey. When the pair are lost in a vast desert, they miraculously find a magic goose that leads them to safety, hence the name of the pagoda.
However, after the downfall of the Tang Dynasty, the pagoda suffered gradual decay. The pagoda once had 1,879 magnificent viewing rooms and about 13 courtyards, however any rooms that have survived today are those that were built during the Ming Dynasty reconstruction. In 701 A.D., due to massive decay, construction of a new 10-storey temple began on the site and was completed in 704 A.D. However, because of several wars and a massive earthquake that hit the capital in 1556, the pagoda was reduced to mostly ruins. It was reconstructed to its present 7-story structure during the Ming Dynasty rule, and has become the signature landmark of Xi’an and one of China’s must see places.
The pagoda is an architectural miracle, being created with a layer of bricks but without any cement. It was designed and built in the traditional Chinese architecture style with a trace of Indian Buddhist design, and although it is a simple structure it is truly an astonishing feature of Chinese architecture. 10 years ago, excavation under the pagoda caused the pagoda’s foundation to shift, causing a slight lean in the pagoda. It is now China’s own “leaning tower of Pisa”. In fact, 17 Buddhist monks still live, work, and pray in the temple surrounding the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.
Surrounding the structure, there are two squares and three gardens that emphasize Chinese style and culture. The north square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is located at the root of the pagoda, and the largest square, covers an area of 252 acres. The square includes a gorgeous fountain, culture square, gardens covered in flowers, a culture corridor, and other facilities. The water fountain of the square has a water and music show running many times throughout the day, and is the largest of it’s kind in Asia. There are also stages to enable praying towards the pagoda in worship. The area is meant to highlight the Tang dynasty, featuring sculptures, pillars, beacons, and paintings all created in the Tang style and covered with calligraphy styles that were adopted in the Tang Dynasty. The south square of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda opened to the public only in 2001 and occupies about 33 acres of land. This square specially features a beautiful sculpture of the famous monk who inhabited the pagoda, Xuan Zang. The east garden of the Goose Pagoda, famously known as the Opera Garden, displays colorful opera sculptures to highlight Shaanxi province local art and culture. A series of opera actor statues gather together to represent the particular enchantment of Qing opera theatre. The west garden of the Wild Goose Pagoda is located at the west side of the north square and occupies about 83 acres. This beautiful garden integrates folk custom, culture, and scenery in order to accentuate Shaanxi regional cultures. The vivid figures located all around the garden illustrate the folk custom of shadow puppet, sugar figure blowing, music, and many other hobbies in the regions of Shaanxi. The west garden represents the entertainment, culinary, and folk-custom life of Shaanxi province. The south garden of the pagoda, occupying 70 acres, includes a wonderful lake and walking areas for enjoyment, all featured in the style of the Tang dynasty.
Overall, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is
Xi’an most famous tourist
destination along with the
Terracotta Warriors, especially for Chinese nationals. Its beautiful architecture,
astounding scenery, and interesting displays, not to mention its
historical significance, all combine to create a great destination
for anyone looking to experience China.
and see the famous Terra Cotta Warriors.