Today was dedicated to the past history of the Shaanxi province. It started at the Bampo museum where the remains of a 6000 yo village were discovered by chance during the building of a new habitation area in 1956. The area was excavated and a lot of the village remains are on display in a large building protecting it. The museum is very well maintained and presented and it is interesting to see how China is carring about this site.
The next stop was the amazing Terracotta Warriors. The site is located 40 Km east of Xi’an and the way to the site looks quite bad with half constructed houses, roads in bad conditions, small shops and people everywhere, and from time to time a huge industrial complex with new habitation zones around.
The Terracotta Warriors site itself is in total contrast to the way leading to it. It is modern, extremely well maintained, with a huge commercial area full of restaurants and shops. The site is very big and the museum is 20 min. away from the commercial area. It is made of 4 large buildings, 3 are the pits with the warriors and one is a museum. Pit no. 1 is the largest and most impressive. Pit no. 2 and 3 are only partly excavated to preserve the remaining warriors because as soon as they are exposed to light they loose their color paintings. You really have to see it to understand the size and amount of work it took to build this army. Definitively one of the highlights of this trip. Here again we can see the efforts China is investing in preserving this site which is also a UN World Heritage site.
The next and last stop was the Big Wild Goose Pagoda of Xi’an. It is a beautiful, very tall, pagoda originally built in 652 during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang
Dynasty (618-907), it functioned to collect Buddhist materials that were
taken from India by the hierarch Xuanzang. I asked our guide how it survived the culture revolution and she said that the good thing is that it is still here. That’s one way to look at history. The pagoda was restored in 2004. It is the center of a large garden with small temples around it describing the ‘Pilgrimage to the West’ which brought Buddhism to China. The purpose of the pagoda was to keep and protect the writtings brought back from India and translate them from Sanskrit into Chinese.
Tomorrow we will spend the day in the old city of Xi’an and we will take the night train to Beijing. Stay tuned to hear more about our “Pilgrimage to Beijing”.