Da Ci'en Temple

Located at South Yanta Road in Xi'an, 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the city center, Da Ci’en (mercy and kindness) Temple is one of renowned Buddhist temples in China, where the landmark of Xi'an, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, is situated. In 648, the emperor Li Zhi ordered to build the temple to commemorate his dead mother. Four years later, the hierarch Xuanzang dwelled here to take charge of the temple’s business. Under Xuanzang’s supervision, the pagoda was constructed to keep the Buddhist statues, scriptures, classics and Buddhist relics (Sariras) he brought from India. Da Ci'en Temple also became a famous site for Buddhist sutra translation and the birthplace of the Faxiang (Dharma Characteristics) School.

Da Ci''en Temple, Xi'an
Entrance to the Temple
Ci''en Temple with Big Wild Goose Pagoda inside
Ci'en Temple with Big Wild Goose Pagoda inside
First built in Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), the previous Da Ci'en Temple was the most splendid imperial temple in ancient Chang’an (today’s Xi'an). Occupying an area of 267,000 square meters (66 acres), Da Ci'en Temple originally contained 3 courtyards, with 1,897 rooms in total. However, only the west courtyard survived till Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). Reconstructed in 1466 with an area of 50,738 square meters (12.5 acres), the present Da Ci'en Temple has Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Mahavira Hall, Sermon Hall, Xuanzang Sanzang Hall and Giant Wild Goose Pagoda along its central axis.

There are two squares on the both north and south sides of the Da Ci’en Temple. The entrance of the temple faces to the south, and a giant bronze statue of Xuanzang towers in front of the square. In front of the temple gate lie four stone lions of Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) on both sides. The male one in the east plays with silk balls, and the female lion in the west enjoys two baby lions' company. Entering the gate, visitors can find two towers. One is the Bell Tower in the east, where hang an iron bell cast in Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) whose striking sound can be heard from far away. The other is Drum Tower in the west, which will be stricken at dusk to refresh people.

Mahavira Hall

Mahavira Hall is right ahead of the entrance, so visitors can easily see it. The hall is situated on the central platform of the temple. Inside the hall three different Buddhist statues are enshrined in the middle, namely Vairocana, Mahavairocana and Sakyamuni. In the east side is the statue of Kasyapa, one of students of Sakyamuni, and in the west side is the statue of Ananda, Sakyamuni’s cousin. They are surrounded by 18 arhats on both sides.
Burning Incense
Burning Incense before Mahavira Hall
Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an
Solemn Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Sermon Hall

To the north of Mahavira Hall is situated the Sermon Hall. It is two-storied: the upper Buddhist Sutra Depositary and the lower preaching room. Many Buddhist classical works and sutra translation pieces accomplished by Xuanzang are collected in the depositary. The preaching room stores up portraits of Xuanzang and a Buddhist statue base ever used by him.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda (Big Wild Goose Pagoda)

Getting out of Sermon Hall, visitors can see the majestic Big Wild Goose Pagoda. The seven-storied pagoda is 64.5 meters (211 feet) high, where the Buddhist relics brought from India are worshiped. Reaching at the top, visitors can have a bird view of entire Xi'an.

Xuanzang Sanzang Hall

In Xuanzang Sanzang Hall enshrine the Buddhist relics of Xuanzang’s parietal bone and his bronze sitting statue. Large delicate frescoes record the big events of his lifetime. Bronze inscriptions, wood and stone carvings are displayed in the hall. It is the largest memorial of Xuanzang in the current era. In addition, there is a basement in the northwest corner of the hall, where stores the original palm leaf manuscript brought from India by Xuanzang.

Pagodas Forest

Besides, visitors also can go to the Pagodas Forest in the east of the temple. There are 9 pagodas towering together, which enshrine the Buddhist relics of successive abbots of the temple. Their names and birthdates are inscribed on the pagodas.
Xuanzang Sanzang Hall
Xuanzang Sanzang Hall
Pagodas Forest
Pagodas Forest

How to Get to Da Ci'en Temple:

 By Bus
Take Bus No. 21, 271, 408, 601, 606, You 6, 242 or 500 and get off at Dayanta Nanguangchang (Giant Wild Goose Pagoda South Square) Station.

 By Metro
Take Metro Line 3 or Line 4 to Dayanta (Giant Wild Goose Pagoda) Station. Then walk towards south for around 1 km (0.6 mi) to arrive.
Xi'an Bus / Metro Search

 By Taxi:
It takes 20 minutes and costs CNY 20 from the Bell Tower.
It takes 30 minutes and costs CNY 30 from the Xi'an Railway Station.
Admission fee

Adult: CNY 40
Kids under 1.2 m (3.9 ft) or no more than 6 years of age: Free
Extra Fare for climbing the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda: CNY 25

Opening hours 08:30-17:00 (Ticketing stops at 16:50.)

 After viewing the temple, visitors can go to the squares and gardens around Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and enjoy the fountain light and music show at the north square. There are some other nearby attractions also worthy of your visit, such as Shaanxi History Museum, Tang Paradise, Qujiang Polar Ocean Park, Qujiang Pool Park, Great Tang All Day Mall and Cool Cave Heritage Park.
- Last updated on Sep. 21, 2023 by Gabby Li -
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