Home / Destinations / Shaanxi / Xian / Attractions / Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is located on the central axis of the Jianfu Temple in south Xian. As a national AAAA scenic spot and a world heritage site, the Buddhist pagoda survives from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Tourists can learn about the history and culture of Xian by visiting the pagoda and the Xian Museum in the southwest of the temple. The pagoda is not as famous as the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, but is more peaceful and tranquil. As part of the artistic heritage of Buddhist architectures of the Tang Dynasty, it is witness as to how Buddhism was introduced to China and integrated with the culture of Han nationality.

It was called “Jianfu Temple Pagoda” during the Tang and Song (960-1279) Dynasties. Its present name is closely related to the “Big Wild Goose Pagoda”.

In the Yonghui Period (650-655) under the reign of Tang Emperor Gaozong, “Wild Goose Pagoda” was built in the Da Ci’en Temple to store the sutras which the eminent monk Xuan Zang had brought from India to Chang’an, today’s Xian. In the Jinglong Period (707-710) under the reign of Tang Emperor Zhongzong, “Jianfu Temple Pagoda” was built in order to store the Buddhist sutras that Monk Yi Jing had brought from India.

Because it looked like the “Wild Goose Pagoda” but was a little bit smaller, “Jianfu Temple Pagoda” was called the “Small Wild Goose Pagoda”, while the previous “Wild Goose Pagoda” in the Da Ci’en Temple became known as the “Big Wild Goose Pagoda”.

 Structural Features
The Small Wild Goose Pagoda was built of blue bricks. Originally, it had 15 storeys, and measured about 148 feet (45 meters) in height. Because of numerous violent storms and earthquakes, the two upper storeys were destroyed. The existing 13-storey pagoda measures 142.4 feet (43.4 meters) in height.

The base of the pagoda is square, each side measuring 37.34 feet (11.38 meters). Beneath the pagoda there is an underground palace. The multi-eaves are made of overlapping bricks. The ground storey has two doors facing south and north respectively and other storeys have exquisite windows. The height and the side line length of every storey decrease progressively. So, the pagoda looks like a rectangular pyramid, with a beautiful design and perfect proportions.

 Ascending the Pagoda

Inside the pagoda, a narrow wooden stairway winds its way to the top, requiring quite an effort by those making the ascent. Children and seniors with poor physical condition are not recommended to ascend. Additionally, it is hard for larger people to pass through the narrow stairway on the upper floors.

There is a small open platform on the top due to the missing two floors. Please be aware that it is very small, allowing only ten people at one time. For tourists successfully reaching the top, it is a special experience to have a bird’s eye view of the whole temple through the broken top. One can even see a panoramic view of the ancient city of Xian on clear days.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an The Mahavira Hall
 Magical Survival from Earthquakes
In 1487, a violent earthquake occurred and caused the Small Wild Goose Pagoda to crack in the middle. The crack was over 1.1 feet (0.33 meter). In another violent earthquake in 1521, the crack disappeared and the two parts of the pagoda magically combined with each other overnight. People felt very confused and called it “Magical Combination”.

The mystery was revealed during restoration after 1949. The reason why the Small Wild Goose Pagoda can withstand dozens of earthquakes is that wise ancient craftsmen have formed its foundation as a hemisphere of rammed earth. In this way, pressure can be distributed evenly when an earthquake happens. Just like a never-fall doll, the flexible and stable pagoda can survive these storms and earthquakes.

Bell in Small Wild Goose Pagoda
Morning Bell Chime
 Morning Bell Chime
The Morning Bell Chime of the Small Wild Goose Pagoda has been known as one of the “Top Eight Scenes of Xian” since ancient times. The original bell was built in the third year (1192) during the reign of the  Emperor Zhangzong in the Jin Dynasty. It was installed in the Jianfu Temple and tolled every morning to pray for happiness in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Now the bell hangs in the Bell Tower near the pagoda and a copy of it hangs in a steel frame in the open to be rung by tourists.

 By bus:
1. Take bus line 18, 21, 29, 32, 40, 46, 203, 204, 218, 224, 258, 407, 410, 508, 521, 618, 700, 707, 713, Tourist Line 7 or Tourist Line 8 (610), get off at the Small Wild Goose Pagoda Station and get to the Jianfu Temple through the North Gate.
2. Take bus line 18, 203, 204, 218, 258, 407, 410, 913, or Tourist Line 7, get off at the Xiajiazhuang Station and get to the temple through the West Gate near the Xian Museum
 By subway:
Take subway line 2, get off at the Nanshaomen Station, leave from Exit A1 or A2, walk west and get to the temple through the North Gate.
 Xian Bus/ Subway Search
Ticket Price The temple: Free of charge on ordinary days; CNY 20 to 25 during the temple fair from 1st to 15th of the first lunar month.
Ascending the Small Wild Goose Pagoda: CNY 30
Opening Hours 9:00-17:00
* During the temple fair, the temple allows entry until 21:00 and is emptied at 22:00, while the pagoda closes at 17:00 as usual.