Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Big Wild Goose Pagoda
Situated in the Da Ci'en Temple, about four kilometers from the urban center, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China. The Pagoda was built in the Tang Dynasty to collect Buddhist scriptures. Although it is worn by wind and rain, the architecture is well preserved.

Originally built in 589 AD in the Sui Dynasty, the temple went under repair in about 648 AD by the order of Emperor Li Zhi of the Tang Dynasty, then still a crown prince. Emperor Li Zhi was filial son. He had this temple built as a symbol of thanks-giving to his mother who died young. However, it went into gradual decay after the downfall of the Tang Dynasty. The building we see today date from neither the Ming of Qing Dynasty.

Master Xuan Zhuang and the Pagoda
Xuan Zhuang was both a great translator and traveler. At the age of 28 in 628 AD, he went to study Buddhism in India. He spent 17 years doing research into Buddhism in various places. Later in spite of many hardships, he covered a distance of 50,000 kilometers and returned to Chang’an in 645 AD with 657 volumes of Buddhist scriptures. His "Travels in the Western Regions" was based on what he had witnessed in about 128 countries and regions. He recorded their geographic locations and customs. His works provide an important source of information for the study of the history and geography of these regions. Wu Cheng’en, famous novelist of the Ming Dynasty, wrote a novel against Xuan Zhuang's experience in his search of the Buddhist truth. The book is one of the four most famous novels in the history of Chinese literature. Xuan Zhuang translated one of the Chinese Classic “Lzo Zi” into Sanskrit and introduced it to India. He was indeed a great contributor to the Buddhist cultural exchanges between India and China in ancient times.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda
On the day when he moved into the temple, the imperial court held a ceremony of unprecedented grandeur for him. The procession consisted of 1,500 decorated chariots. On the same day, all the monks from the capital followed the procession; holding bunches of flowers and incense burners in their hands, and reciting passages from Buddhist scriptures. Civil and military officials and the Emperor's bodyguards also followed the master into the procession. Even the Emperor and his whole royal family stood on the city gate tower, burnt incense sticks, and respectfully watched the procession. Later, the Emperor selected hundreds of renowned scholars and Buddhist monks to help Xuan Zhuang in his endeavor to translate the Buddhist scriptures that he had brought back from India.

Xuan Zhuang stayed in the temple for 12 years and translated 1,335 volumes of Buddhist scriptures. In praise of the Master's decision to Buddhism, Emperor Tai zong wrote "An Introduction to the Sacred Teaching of Monk Tripitaka of the Great Tang Dynasty", followed by Crown Prince Li Zhi's "Notes on the Introduction to the Sacred Teachings of Monk Tripitaka of the Great Tang Dynasty". Chu Suiliang, a famous calligrapher of the Tang Dynasty, inscribed the two texts on the stone tablets on both sides of the south gate to the ground floor of the pagoda.
In 652 AD, Xuan Zhuang made a proposal to the court for a pagoda to be built inside the temple to store the scriptures and statues he had brought back from India. The emperor agreed without hesitation. Xuan Zhuang was so pleased that he took part in the manual labor. The pagoda was finished in the same year with only 5 storeys, but it has been renovated, restored and added to many times. Now this wood-and-brick pagoda rises 64 meters with seven storeys and is an architectural marvel without the use of any cement. The Dou Gong (bracket) style in traditional Chinese architecture features the construction of the pagoda. The seams between each layer of bricks and the so-called “prisms” on each side are clearly visible. The pagoda is characterized by its towering height, structural compactness, imposing appearance and unaffected style. It is indeed a good reflection of people’s wisdom and talent in ancient China.

In the Tang Dynasty, every successful candidate in the state imperial examinations would climb up the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and write poems and inscriptions over different doors and sonte frameworks, symbolizing a soaring career in the future. This fashion went down as far as Ming Dynasty. These poems and inscriptions have survived till this day as a fine mirror to the city's past. Today, on the top storey, you can have a bird's eye view of the cityscape in the vicinity.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda
There is an interesting story about the name of the pagoda. It is said that Master Xuan Zhuang once stayed in a Mahayana temple in India. In fact, there are two major sects of Buddhism in India, the Mahayana and the Hinayana. The Mahayana believers are vegetarians while those of the Hinayana are non-vegetarians. Near the temple where he stayed, there was a Hinayana temple. One day, a monk was just worried about the shortage of meat in the temple. But it happened to be the General Alms Day of the Buddha, another monk looked up at the sky and sighed, "Our beloved Buddha, the Great and Merciful, will not forget what day it is today!" at these words, a flock of wild geese flew over the temple. The head goose dropped dead on the ground. The monks were all puzzled by this, and they concluded that this must be the result of the Buddha's spirit at work: to provide them with the wild goose. Ever since then, the monks of the temple became vegetarians and began to believe in Mahayana Buddhism. They also set up a pogada where the wild goose drooped dead, and called it the Wild Goose Pagoda. The Wild Goose Paogoda that greets us today was actually modeled after its Indian prototype. It was given the same name in memory of Xuan Zhuang and in praise of Buddhism. After about half a century, the pagoda at the Jianfu Temple was built. The two pagodas face each other over a distance, but assume different styles. Since the one in the Jianfu Temple is smaller than the Wild Goose Pagoda, it is often called the Small Wild Goose Pagoda.

The Bell Tower and the Drum Tower in Ci'en Temple
Two small buildings stand alongside the single axis of the temple. The one on the east side houses a bell and the one on the west on the west side a drum, hence the name Drum Tower and Bell Tower. The bell from the Ming Dynasty weighs 15 tons. Together with the drum, it served as the time teller for the monks in the temple in ancient times.

The Hall of the Great Hero
The Hall of the Great Hero is the most important building in a Buddhist temple, for ir is dedicated to the founder of Buddhism Sakyamuni. Inside the hall, there is a three-bodied sculpture of Sakyamuni, with the one in the middle called Fashen Buddha, the one on the west side Baoshen Buddha and the one on the opposite side Yingshen Buddha.

Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, was prince of the Kingdom of Daplia in India. He was born in 565 BC, and died in 486 BC. He was an approximated contemporary of Confucius in China. At the age of 29, wishing to see more of the world, he left the palace. He saw on successive excursions an old man, a sick man, a corpse, and a mendicant. From the first three of these sights he learned human being's suffering and death. And from the monk he saw his destiny. Forsaking his wife and his son, he left the palace to become a wandering ascetic. At the age of 35, he reached enlightenment, becoming a Buddha and began to travel all over India to preach Buddhism.

The figure beside the three-bodied Buddha on the east side is Jia Ye, on eof the ten great disciples of Sakyamuni, and the one on the other side is Ahnan, Sakyamuni's cousin and his faithful disciple as well. Further on bothe sides are the eighteen Arhats, also Sakyamuni’s disciples. Arhats are of the highest position in Hinayana Buddhism.

The Doctrine Chamber
Inside the Doctrine Chamber enshrined the Amitabha Buddha, who is in charge of the "Western Paradise". At the word of the Amitabha Buddha, one will be led to the Paradise upon his death. Therefore, the Amitabha is also called the Buddha of Guidance. On the wall at the east side of the chamber, there are three rubbings. The one in the middle is called "Xuan Zhuang on his Way Back to Chang'an". With tolls of scriptures on his back, a pair of straw sandals on his feet and an oil lamp on top of the rolls, Xuan Zhuang is making his way back to the capital. Beside the portrait of Xuan Zhuang, there are pictures of Yuan Ce and Kui Ji, two of his disciples. Yuan Ce was from Xinluo (present-day Korea); Kui Ji was the nephew of the famous general YuChi Gong of the early Tang Dynasty. Judging from the social status and background of the disciples who followed him, Xuan Zhuang proved to be a renowned figure during his day.
The stone

Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00
Ticket Price: CNY 50

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