Underground Palace of Big Wild Goose Pagoda
In ancient time, Big Wild Goose Pagoda is the highest building in Xian. So in some people’s mind, it is the landmark of the Xian city. And nowadays it is a quite welcomed tourist destination.
As is said in many tourist instructions about it, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda was built in the Tang Dynasty. According to historical document, the pagodas of the Tang Dynasty were usually built with underground palace. And the underground palaces were usually especially prepared for the Emperors and Buddhist masters. In 1987, the discovery of the Famen Temple underground palace surprised the world due to the large numbers of priceless tributes. So in many years ago, people began to assume that the Big Wild Goose Pagoda also has an underground palace.
To talk about the underground palace of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, we have to learn about a great monk – Xuanzang.
In the early Tang Dynasty, Buddhism were side spread in China. And learning about Buddhist sutras got prevalent among Chinese people. Due to the influence of his elder brother, Xuan Zang (Whose original name is Cheng Yi. And he was born in Henan Province) choose to become a monk to study Buddhist sutra when he was 13. During his studying term, he found different schools of Buddhism held different ideas about the same Buddhist sutra’s content. To look for the real and correct understanding of the sutras, he decided to travel to India (the birth place of Buddhism) to study the original sutras. When he was 29, he bid farewell to his homeland and started his journey to India. During his decades of years stay in India, he red lots of the most authoritative Buddhist sutra and relative notes. And finally he became the most achieved monks and the most excellent overseas Buddhist researcher in India. 13 years later, Xuanzang returned to Chang’an with 150 Buddha’s relics, 7 Buddha’s statues, and 657 Buddhist sutras. When he was back to Chang’an, he started to translate the Sanskrit Buddhist sutras into Chinese and remark them with note according to his understanding. And to keep the Buddhist treasures from India, the Emperor ordered the building of a pagoda. Xuanzang was the inspector of the pagoda’s construction. 2 years later, a 5-layer pagoda was finished. Xuanzang named the pagoda as “Da Yan Ta (Big Wild Goose Pagoda)”. The pagoda’s name is actually the liberal translation of the Buddhist pagodas’ name in India.
You may know many imperial tombs also have underground palaces. The underground palace of tomb is used for housing the coffin and body of the tomb owner. While the underground palace of pagoda is usually for keeping tributes.
According to history, the Buddhist treasures Xuanzang brought from India were all kept in the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. But nowadays except for the 3 Buddha’s relics, nothing else can be found. So the expert assume they are housed in the underground palace of the pagoda.
In 2007, the cultural relic bureau carried out the probe of the inner structure of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the radar reflected there is a hollow space under the pagoda base. That probably be the underground palace of the pagoda. To protect the underground palace, the L3 of Xian Metro, made a detour at this area when planning the route.
Just like the way treating the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang, the experts appeal to protect them carefully and do not excavate them till the technology becomes developed enough that can preserve the unearthed objects perfectly.