Home » Xian Tours » Xian Attractions » Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Big Goose Pagoda

The Big Goose Pagoda is located in the Da Ci'en Temple, which is four kilometers away from the center of the city. It is one of the city's most distinctive and outstanding landmarks. It is possibly the most beautiful building left in Xian today.

Known as the best-preserved Buddhist temple complex, the Da Ci'en Temple was built in 589 during the Sui Dynasty (581-618). At the time it was named as Wulou Temple. Later, in AD 647 of the Tang Dynasty, Li Zhi (who became Emperor Tang Gaozong in AD 649) ordered to rebuild the temple in memory of his late mother; Empress Wende. The temple subsequently gained its present name "Da Ci'en Temple.” Within the temple there is a small bell tower were a bell used for telling time in ancient times, hangs. Daxiongbaodian is the main hall of the temple.

In AD 652, the Big Goose Pagoda was built to store sutras and the figurines of Buddha, which were brought from India by a famous Buddhist translator and traveler named Tang Sanzang, also known by his Buddhist name as Xuanzang. At 28 he set off to India to study the sutra and brought back most of the scriptures to Chang'an, which is present-day Xian. In total he spent 17 years for a round trip and experienced many hardships. Upon his return he wrote a book entitled "Journey to the West,” which records the customs of different places he visited and his experiences. Subsequently the great novelist of the Ming Dynasty Wu Cheng'en, collected materials handed down and wrote a novel titled "Pilgrimage to the West" which later became one of four greatest novels in China. As a result, a TV series about this story was made and became world-renowned. In memory of him a statue is placed in front of the Da Ci'en Temple.

During the early days the pagoda boasted a brick structure of five stories and about 60 meters (197 feet) high. Between AD 701 and AD 704, around the end of the reign of Empress Wu Zetian, five more stories were added to the original pagoda. Damage by the war reduced it to seven stories, to what it is today. With a height of 64 meters (210 miles), the pagoda occupies a base of 25 by 25 meters (82 feet) squared. The Big Goose Pagoda is a brick-tower architecture, sturdy and simple. Walls and doors are carved with vivid and exquisite figures of Buddha, reflecting the profundity in the paintings of the Tang Dynasty.

According to historical records, the monks living in the Da Ci'en Temple had no meat to eat. They longed for it so one of the monks started to pray to the Gods to bless them. At that moment a group of wild geese flew over the temple. It is said that their heads dropped to the ground and they died. The monks were all surprised and thought it was the result of the Buddhist spirit so they decided not to eat meat forever. A pagoda was ordered to be built in this place, hence the name "Big Goose Pagoda.”