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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

No. 17: Daci'en Temple, Xi'an, Shaanxi

The Great Goose Pagoda (大雁塔) at Daci'en Temple (大慈恩寺), Xi'an, Shaanxi (陕西, 西安市). It
was built to hold items brought back from ancient India (天竺) by the monk Xuanzang (玄奘).
After a great vegetarian lunch at Daxingshan Temple, my wife Lila and I took local buses to Daci'en, the Temple of Great Compassion. It's the home of Xi'an's Number One symbol, the Dayan Ta or "Giant Wild Goose Pagoda."

Towering 64 meters (210 feet) over the city's southern area, the Pagoda was built to house sutras, statues, implements, and relics brought back from India by one of China's most famous monks, Master Xuanzang.

Born in 602, Xuanzang was dissatisfied with the Buddhist study materials available at the time, so, against the Emperor's wishes, in 629 he undertook the arduous journey to India. After 17 years, he returned in 645 and spent the remainder of his life overseeing the translation of the texts he brought back, until his death in 664.

During the late Ming Dynasty, in the 1590s, Wu Cheng'en fictionalized Xuanzang's story into what is arguably China's most popular story, as well-known as the King Arthur cycle in England. The Journey to the West combines aspects of Xuanzang's real journey with Chinese myths to create a story that still inspires artists (and TV and movie producers).

In recent years the temple around Xuanzang's pagoda has seen great improvements. Don't miss the statue of Xuanzang out front; and the major Tang-style hall dedicated to him and his journey at the very back of the property.

The park around the temple is one of the finest in the city. As a major tourist attraction, it has also attracted plenty of fine restaurants and other travelers' services.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily April 23, 2012.)

GPS Info:
  • 34.216651, 108.964304



Map:




GALLERY

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and the Main Gate of Daci'en Temple, Xi'an
A closer view of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, from behind
Statue of the monk Xuanzang, with the Pagoda behind
Courtyard of the Tang-style Xuanzang Memorial Hall at the rear of the temple
Interior of the Memorial Hall, with another statue of Xuanzang
Close-up of the statue of Xuanzang in the hall

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