Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Xian, China

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an is dedicated to the introduction of Buddhism in China. However, pagoda style architecture has a significant presence throughout Chinese history. Therefore, Chinese pagodas are not necessarily always dedicated to Buddhism. In fact, there are many Chinese poems throughout history that honor the landscape views which are revealed as one climbs to the top of the pagoda. As a result, one could conclude that not all pagodas in China have a religious significance.

However, many pagodas do in fact have a religious significance. In addition, there is a very interesting Buddhist anecdote that is behind the Great Wild Goose Pagoda symbolism.

Great Wild Goose Pagoda Symbolism

Before the construction of the pagoda there was a community of Buddhist monks that lived in ancient Xi’an. Apparently times were tough and food was hard to come by. Unfortunately, the leader of the monks began to question his Buddhist faith. Therefore, he prayed to the Bodhisattva for some meat to eat because they had very little food. At that time a flock of wild geese happened to be flying overhead and the leader of the flock instantly fell to the earth with 2 broken wings. The monks saw this as a sign from the Bodhisattva that they should not question their beliefs no matter how hungry they became. 

As a result, this great Wild Goose Pagoda symbolism resulted in the pagoda being named after a wild goose! Additionally, the pagoda is constructed on the location where the goose originally fell from the sky after being struck down by the Bodhisattva. The great Wild Goose Pagoda symbolism was very potent because it has survived millennia!

The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Xian China

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda Facts

  1. Construction of the original Wild Goose Pagoda was completed in 652 AD
  2. The original structure was built during the reign of the Tang Dynasty Emperor Gaozong
  3. Originally constructed of rammed earth and a stone exterior facade, it stood 53 meters in height and had 5 stories
  4. Unfortunately, the original Giant Wild Goose Pagoda collapsed after 5 decades
  5. Subsequently, in 704 AD the pagoda was rebuilt with 5 additional stories for a total of 10 stories!
  6. This structure lasted over 8 centuries but was reduced by 3 stories due to an earthquake in 1556 AD
  7. Therefore, the structure remains at 7 stories to this day and has a perceptible lean to the west.
  8. The current Giant Wild Goose Pagoda stands at 64 meters tall

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountain Show

This Buddhist monument is also known as the “Big Wild Goose Pagoda”. There are many activities in the surrounding area. As a result, it is like a big park in which one can enjoy the atmosphere. However, the main feature is definitely the Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountain Show! The fountains are set to music and they are spread out over a giant rectangular square. 

Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountain Show

The fountains are crossed laterally by walkways that allow the audience to cross the square between shows. However, for the more intrepid visitor this presents opportunity!

Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountain Show

As a result, it is possible to walk through the fountains during the show! However, it is best to be careful because it is very cold during the winter in Xi’an. As a result, if you get all wet it may be necessary to leave the show to dry off.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountain Show

Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountain Show

Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountain Show

Inside the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Another one of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda facts was that it served as a secure depository for many Buddhist sutras and figurines. These Buddhist treasures were brought back from India by the Xuangzang who was a prolific traveler and translator. In fact, his translations of the Buddha’s teachings are largely responsible for the proliferation of Buddhism in ancient China.

Although many of the Buddhist relics are off limits to visitors, it is still possible to enter the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and climb the stairs to the top! The views from the 7th story are excellent and you can see the Xian city grid laid out below!

Xian City GridXian City Grrid Seen from Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

The Daci’en Temple grounds are where the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda sits. Therefore, from the top you can also view the grounds below and also make out the Big Wild Goose Pagoda Fountain Show in the distance. 

Daci’en Temple GroundsDaci'en Temple Grounds

Bell Tower of Xi’an

In the ancient city of Xian there are many historical sites to visit. In addition to the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda visitors should also visit the Bell Tower of Xi’an. The Bell Tower of Xi’an is located behind the Xi’an City Wall in the old city center. It was constructed in the 17th century and according to it’s name the “Bell Tower of Xi’an” had a giant bell inside to report the time of day to the surrounding city inhabitants. The Bell Tower of Xi’an is 36 meters in height and covers an area of 1370 meters square.

Bell Tower of Xia'an

Although the bell is no longer used, it is still kept there on display for visitors to see.

Bell Tower of Xia'an

Xi’an City Wall

To get to the Bell Tower of Xi’an it is necessary to drive through and also exit through the Xi’an City Wall. Therefore, if you intend to visit the Xi’an City Wall look out point then this is a perfect time to do it.

Also, it is amazing how much the city of Xi’an has grown through the centuries.  Viewing the Xian City Wall makes you realize how immense the city really is! Unfortunately, I was not able to visit the Small Wild Goose Pagoda while I was in Xian. Perhaps next time!

Tang Palace

However, I would recommend stopping by the Tang Palace especially since some of the renovations would have hopefully been completed since the time I visited.

Tang Palace

In addition, there was a Chinese opera being performed in an outdoor theater at the palace when I visited. Unfortunately, I was not able to see all of it because of my late arrival.

Chinese Opera outdoor theater

Oh, last but not least don’t forget to go see the Terracotta Warriors! It is a short drive outside the city limits to visit these ancient artifacts of the Qin Dynasty.

Additional Resources:

https://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shaanxi/xian/bigwildgoose.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Wild_Goose_Pagoda