The Big Wild Goose Pagoda (dayanta) is located within the premises of the Temple of Great Maternal Grace (Dacien Si), four kilometers away from the center of the city.It is one of the city's most distinctive and outstanding landmarks, possibly the most beautiful building left in Xian today.
In AD 652, the Big Goose Pagoda was built to store the sutras and the figurines of Buddha, which were brought from India by a famous Buddhist translator and traveler Tang Sanzang, also known by his Buddhist name as Xuanzang.
Xuan Zang went to India to research the Buddhist doctrines in 629 AD (the 3rd year of Zhenguan period), and then he came back in 645 AD with 657 volumes of Buddhist scriptures. In the temple, he translated 74 volumes in 1,335 chapters of the Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. In order to protect the Buddhist Scriptures, Monk Xuanzang asked for a pagoda to be built. He designed the pagoda like a wild goose as he saw in India. So this pagoda was called the Wild Goose Pagoda in memory of the famous Monk. Its five storeys are 60 meters in height. The decay of the earth-cored pagoda caused the new construction of a 10-storey pagoda from 701 to 704. Damage by the war reduced it to seven storeys, to what it is today.
With a height of 64 meters (210 miles), the pagoda occupies a base 25 meters by 25 meters (82 feet) square. The storyed pagoda was an architectural marvel. It was built with layers of bricks but without any cement in between. The bracket style in traditional Chinese architecture was also used in the construction. The seams between each layer of bricks and the " prisms' on each side of the pagoda are clearly visible. The grand body of the pagoda with its solemn appearance, simple style and high structure, is indeed a good example of ancient people's wisdom and talent. Walls and doors are carved with vivid and exquisite figures of Buddha, reflecting the profundity in the paintings of the Tang Dynasty.
In the Tang dynasty, every successful candidate who passed the imperial examinations would have to climb up the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and wrote poems and inscriptions there. This ritual would symbolize a soaring career in the future. The fashion of writing poems and leaving inscriptions on the horizontal bars over doors and stone frameworks by successful candidates of the imperial examinations went on as far as the Ming dynasty. These poem sand inscriptions have survived till this day as a fine mirror to the city's past.
There are fantastic views from the top of the pagoda of the grid-like streets below and it seems hard to believe today that the area around here was once countryside and fields! It is tradition to throw coins from the windows of the pagoda in the hope that this will bring good luck.
The Ming Dynasty Wu Cheng'en, collected the materials of Xuan Zang's experience handed down and wrote a novel titled "Pilgrimage to the West" which later became one of four greatest novels in China. As a result, the Television Series about this story was made and became world-renowned.