Located in the southern suburb of Xi’an, about 2 kilometers to the south of Xi’an City Wall, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda Scenic Area is a huge park complex with traditional gardens, a large manmade lake with a traditional Chinese marble bridge crossing it. It is very peaceful compared to other Xi’an attractions, and mainly consists of the ancient Jianfu Temple, which houses the famous Small Wild Goose Pagoda, and Xi’an Museum.
The Jianfu Temple was located in Kaihuafang in Chang’an as the residence of Princess Xiangcheng, daughter of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty. In A.D. 684 the grand mansion was turned by the royal family into a Buddhist temple, named Xianfu Temple, in honor of Emperor Gaozong. The temple was renamed Jianfu in A.D. 690. It was a famous Buddhist sanctuary in Chang’an (present Xi’an). The present temple consists of the front gate, Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Cishi Pavilion, Grand Hall, Depository of Buddhist Scriptures, an ancient pagoda and the “White Robe” Tower.
Famous Monk Yijing stayed in this temple to translate 56 volumes of Buddhist scriptures in Sanskrit he had brought back from India and wrote the book entitled Biography of Eminent Monk Who Went to the Western Regions in Search of Buddha Dharma during the Tang Dynasty. His book is of a high value for the study of cultural exchanges between China and India. The main part of the cultural relics retained in this temple is stone inscriptions. Among the 43 stone inscriptions from the Tang and following dynasties is a rare piece under the title of “Waiting on the Bodhisattva” carved in the Tang Dynasty. Among the temple’s collections are also 100,000 copies of ancient books, including over 200 titles of rare ones.
The Small Wild Goose Pagoda in the Jianfu Temple was built between A.D. 707 and 709 during the Tang Dynasty, with a multi-eave, square and brick structure. Along with the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, it was an important landmark in Chang’an, capital of the Tang Dynasty. Since it was smaller and built later than the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, it was named the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. As ancient architecture, it has kept all its Tang Dynasty features. The shape and structure of the pagoda are typical of early multi-eave pagodas and influenced many brick and stone rnulti-eave pagodas built later in other parts of the country.
The original Small Wild Goose Pagoda had 15 stories and was about 46 meters high. It has survived more than 70 earthquakes. Its body cracked in one earthquake and then the crack closed in another earthquake. It was discovered in recent examinations of the pagoda that the original creators of the pagoda built the foundation of it in the shape of a hemisphere. In case of an earthquake, the pressure can be spread evenly, allowing the pagoda to survive. However, two stories on the top were eliminated in the earthquakes. The present pagoda has 13 stories and is 43.94 meter high. Its body tapers off toward the top to give it an exquisite and slender appearance.
In the Jianfu Temple there is a giant iron bell, which is 3.5 meters (11.4 feet) in height and about 10 tons. It was cast in 1192 during the Jin Dynasty. Its resonant sound can be heard throughout the city. The “Morning Ringing of the Bell in the Small Wild Goose Pagoda” is acclaimed as one of the “Eight Greatest Sights in Shaanxi”.
The newly-built Xi’an Museum houses an amazing collection of more than 130,000 historic and cultural relics, showing how the ancient capital changed over the centuries. The three-storey building is an excellent combination of traditional Chinese architecture and modern technology. With its ancient and elegant structure, Xi’an Museum at night looks truly spectacular.