a trek to daxingshan si in xi’an

Saturday, April 18: After leaving the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, I decide I’ll walk to Daxingshan Si, Xi’an’s only working Buddhist temple.  Lonely Planet China says that it’s “just south of” the Small Wild Goose Pagoda, but I think it’s “just south” only if you’re in some kind of vehicle.  It’s a long trek south if you’re on foot, which I am.  Isn’t it funny how deceiving maps and guidebooks can be?  It always appears that places are so close, when in reality they can be quite a long distance! 🙂

By the time I finally arrive here, after I get lost and sidetracked several times, my legs are killing me.  Already today, I’ve been to the Beilin Museum and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda; inside both of these, I already did a lot of walking.  I haven’t yet eaten and my legs are tired, but I keep on going nonetheless.

Daxingshan Si

Daxingshan Si

The Daxingshan Temple (大兴善寺) was an important temple during the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316), during which time about 90% of the people around Chang’an, now modern Xi’an, became Buddhists. According to China Highlights: Daxingshan Temple, South Asian scholars worked here to translate scriptures.  The temple was destroyed in the 840s during the Tang era, and it wasn’t rebuilt until the Qing dynasty in  1725, with several other restorations in 1956, when it was used by Tibetan Buddhist monks, and again in 1983.  The Cultural Revolution brought an end to the Tibetan Buddhist monks’ worship here.

In the first hall just inside the entrance, to the right, is a hall where I find some scary depictions of hell.  I’m surprised by this as I never even knew Buddhism had a hell.

I’m happy to escape this hall and emerge into the light.  The temple complex is really nice, with its golden-eaved buildings and expansive gardens.  People are bowing and praying with incense offerings.  I find lotus candles burning, prayer wheels, and people worshipping in all areas of the temple.

Daxingshan Si temple complex

Daxingshan Si temple complex

I love the dragon relief sculpture on an island in the middle of the stairs leading to the main hall.

Daxingshan Si

Daxingshan Si

Close up of Daxingshan Si's main hall

Close up of Daxingshan Si’s main hall

Inside the main hall are five golden Buddhas.

Inside the main hall of Daxingshan Si

Inside the main hall of Daxingshan Si

Lying on the ground to the side of the main hall, I find terra-cotta tiles with prayers written on them.

prayer tiles

prayer tiles

There are some beautiful lanterns up under the eaves.

pretty lantern

pretty lantern

And inside, I find a woman standing on some kind of a fish.

Inside one of the halls at Daxingshan Si

Inside one of the halls at Daxingshan Si

There are even incense sticks for sale.

Incense for sale

Incense for sale

Daxingshan Si

Daxingshan Si

The red walls of the temple buildings make a perfect backdrop for the pretty gardens.

Gardens at Daxingshan Si

Gardens at Daxingshan Si

The temple grounds

The temple grounds

I love seeing Buddhists offering their incense and prayers to the Buddha.

bowing with incense

bowing with incense

I even find a laughing Buddha on the grounds.

Flowers to the Buddha in the temple complex

Flowers to the Buddha in the temple complex

on the temple grounds at Daxingshan Si

on the temple grounds at Daxingshan Si

Fierce character

Fierce character

prayer wheels

prayer wheels

another Buddhist deity

another Buddhist deity

Incense burner at Daxingshan Si

Incense burner at Daxingshan Si

the multi-armed goddess

the multi-armed goddess

Daxingshan Si

Daxingshan Si

Daxingshan Si

Daxingshan Si

Statue with paintings

Statue with paintings

a line of Buddhas

a line of Buddhas

gardens of Daxingshan Si

gardens of Daxingshan Si

Red ribbon prayers

Red ribbon prayers

lotus candles

lotus candles

Daxingshan Si

Daxingshan Si

corridor at Daxingshan Si

corridor at Daxingshan Si

Daxingshan Si and its relief-carved dragons

Daxingshan Si and its relief-carved dragons

Peaceful pink Buddha

Peaceful pink Buddha

Daxingshan Si and its relief-carved dragons

Daxingshan Si and its relief-carved dragons

As I make my way back to the entrance, I find another hall directly across from the other hall that depicted hell, and inside that hall are more frightening and disturbing scenes of the dark underworld.

Finally, I make my way back out through the temple entrance.  By now my legs are so sore, I know I must catch a ride to my next destination, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.

Incense at Daxingshan

Incense at Daxingshan

I flag down a 3-wheeled taxi and bump along to a row of restaurants right outside the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.  Finally, I can get some lunch.  Much to my surprise, I find an Indian restaurant, where I eat a delicious meal that makes me feel sick to my stomach even while I’m eating it.  That doesn’t stop me from eating it however, because it tastes delicious.  For a long while later, I regret eating this, as my stomach doesn’t sit well after it.

Indian restaurant outside of The Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Indian restaurant outside of The Big Wild Goose Pagoda

I head to the huge complex surrounding the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, happy to have eaten the only Indian food I’ve had in China, even if it did make me sick. 🙂

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Categories: Asia, China, Daxingshan Si, Shaanxi, Xi'an | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “a trek to daxingshan si in xi’an

  1. What a pity you ended up feeling poorly, it sounds like a great day despite ‘hell’!

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    • It was a great, and long (!) day, Gilly, despite my stomach problems. I’ve learned to keep going even when I feel sick. Otherwise I’d just be in bed all the time. 😊

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  2. After viewing those hellish images, I think I might have been tempted to simply stay outside and enjoy the grounds.

    >

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    • Indeed, Carol. The images were fascinating, but also disturbing, so it was only when I went outside that I could breathe a sigh of relief! 😊

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  3. So sorry about your poor tummy! I think you need to pack your own lunches of rice and vegetables you cook yourself whenever you leave your house to travel!! You must be losing a lot of weight though!

    Here is the story of “the lady with the fish”:

    “One day Kuan Yin, the most venerated Goddess of Compassion, who is aware of the distress of every creature in the universe, heard the pitiful cries for help of one of the sons of the King Fish of the Oceans.

    The young, small fish had disguised himself as a large, grown fish to swim around the fishermen’s boats and have some fun at their expense, but his playfulness led to his being caught in a net. He was taken to the market where people were admiring this huge fish that was still alive many hours after being taken out of the water.

    Of course everybody wanted to buy this huge fish because they thought that whoever ate it would also live forever. Now, Kuan Yin had a dear disciple, a boy called Shan Tsai, who was very eager to study Buddha’s Teaching. Shan Tsai soon learned to practice loving kindness with great enthusiasm.

    So Kuan Yin sent Shan Tsai with all the money she had to buy the little fish to save him from being eaten, but Shan Tsai still had not enough because everybody kept offering more and more money for the miraculous fish. Then a voice came from the clouds and told the crowd that a life should belong to the person who tries to save it, and not to those who try to take it.

    This voice belonged to Kuan Yin. The crowd realized their selfish ways and everybody went home, determined to be more loving.

    Shan Tsai was then able to buy the fish and take it to Kuan Yin who promptly put it in the sea where it turned into a young, small fish again and swam away, waving his tail happily. The young fish was very glad the nasty experience was over, thanks to the kindness of the Goddess of Mercy and her disciple. And the people learned compassion in letting others be free and not to try to control others”

    Mona Lisa

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    • Hi Mona Lisa, Your suggestions for packing food on my travels sounds good in theory, but it would be quite a lot to carry even on a weekend trip. That food at the Indian restaurant was yummy, so I was disappointed I felt sick after. In the last couple of weeks, I haven’t felt sick when traveling. Many people told me they were sick their whole first year in China. Maybe I’m only now getting used to it now that I’m ready to leave!

      Thanks for sharing that wonderful story about the goddess of mercy. It is really a lovely tale. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Of course- everything will have a story, and it’s very nice of KvK to help out 🙂 I was just thinking that the more of your oriental posts I see, the more bewildered I get. It’s like a gigantic la-la land! I can’t imagine what it’s like inside your head right now, Cathy. (bad enough in mine! 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Jo, I’m happy KvK (Mona Lisa) shared that story. She’s very knowledgeable about Buddhism as she spent a lot of time studying it in Nepal, so I’m always happy when she shares her wisdom.

      Jo, it is bewildering here indeed. My head is swimming too. As for it being la-la land, you don’t know the half of it! Maybe you’ll get more of an idea about that after my next post. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yet another fascinating temple – they love their colour and patterns! I didn’t like the hell area – I was surptised by that too, as it doesn’t seem to be mentioned in anything I have heard of Buddhism.

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  6. What an amazing and so different temple. Those depictions of Hell have me totally confused I have never seen or heard of that side of Buddhism. I’m in awe at your energy Cathy, what a long day and wait you say there is still more to come!!!! I hope your tummy has recovered by now.

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    • Yes, this temple was really interesting, Pauline; I was so surprised by these hell depictions. We see this kind of thing quite a bit in European Christian churches, but I’ve never seen one in a Buddhist temple. I just posted about my next stop on this long day; you’re right, it was a long one in which I squeezed in a lot!! I was exhausted, to say the least. 🙂

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      • You will be so ready to get home for a well deserved time out from travel. But I’m betting you won’t stay still for long… 🙂 How much longer before you head home?

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