Originally raised in 652, but rebuilt and enlarged by China’s only ruling empress Wu Zetian in 704, the very popular Buddhist pagoda known as the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda has withstood both the ravages of time and nature.
One of the early functions of 大雁塔 (Da Yan Ta) was to hold the sutras and figurines of Buddha that Xuanzang – a Chinese Buddhist monk scholar, traveler, and translator – brought back to China from his extensive pilgrimages into India during the Tang Dynasty. Xuanzang then devoted his life translating Buddhist texts that he brought back from India.
The pagodas’ original height was reduced to its current 64 metres when three stories were heavily damaged during the massive 1556 earthquake that devastated the Shaanxi region and caused an estimated 850,000 deaths, the single worst earthquake in terms of casualties in history.
Although repaired following the earthquake, the pagoda still leans a few degrees to the west.