Immerse in the Tranquility of Small Goose Pagoda &Xian Museum

At the end of the year, I was received a reward with a delightful tour to Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Xian. Ancient capital City Xian was my first stop. It gripped me soon after I set foot on the land. Many places there retained their ancient names, like Hanzhong (汉中), Xianyang (咸阳), Lintong (临潼)… which were very important military, cultural or political towns during China’s Qin Dynasty ((770-476 BC).

A visit to Xian surely focused on museums such as Terra-Cotta Warriors and Shaanxi Provincial Museum, and the old architectural structures, such as the Old City Wall. And the Small Goose Pagoda & Xian Museum standing in the same place offered both museum and old buildings.

1300-year-old Small Goose Pagoda was thirteen stories tall (originally 15 stories), reaching 43.3 meters (142 feet). it was smaller than the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, so the name was given to it. Look closer, I found the outer appearance has been slightly damaged. It was due to more than 70 great or small earthquakes. However, the multi-eave brick pagoda still stood steadily, showing ancient craftsmen’s superb architectural skill!

  

Today, small Goose Pagoda area was built into an elegant park, a perfect mix of history, Buddhism and peace. Dozens of Chinese scholar trees were planted accompanying Small Goose Pagoda and Jianfu Temple in Tang dynasty (618-907). I also noticed the “Yanta Tower Morning Bell”, which was made by iron weighing at 8000 kilograms, 3.55 meters high, with edge diameter of 2.5 meters. I was told that it was one of the eight major cultural sites of Shaanxi province and the sound it made that could be heard over three miles away. While Xian Museum was a historical and cultural site with a collection of 130,000 pieces of relics from different historical periods to help us learn the history of Xian, when enjoying the peaceful and relaxed time.

  

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Stroll in the Classic Suzhou Gardens

Located 100 km away from Shanghai (it takes only half an hour from Shanghai to Suzhou by high speed train, which runs every ten minutes or so), Suzhou is a beautiful garden city with a history of about 2500 years, and today known as the “Venice of Orient”. In December, I had a joyous day tour in Suzhou and was very pleased to find canals, arched stone bridges, and low, white washed houses with black roof still stand quietly in this old city.

Ursule’s Stroll in the Classic Suzhou Gardens

Garden of Net Master

The highlight of my Suzhou tour was the visit of Garden of Net Master (网师园) and Humble Administrator’s Garden (拙政园), which are two of Suzhou’s four most famous classic gardens.

  

Garden of Net Master was first built during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279). It is small in size (covering an area of about half a hectare) but a really elegant garden, well designed and meticulously constructed, with Song-dynasty style furnishing. The surrounding scenery including a pond, roofed walkways and pavilions are also fascinating to visitors.

Humble Administrator’s Garden ( with an area of 1.867 hectares) is much bigger than Garden of Net Master, and can be traced back to Tang Dynasty. A winter visit to this ancient garden was so nice without crowds. Just take time to stroll, see into the lives of the family centuries ago, enjoy the fresh air and numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands…

Ursule’s Stroll in the Classic Suzhou Gardens

Humble Administrator’s Garden

Wandering around Town God Temple of Shanghai

If you want to experience the old and local parts of international metropolis Shanghai, Town God Temple or Chenghuang Miao (城隍庙) is one of the best choices. Our last stop in Shanghai was just wandering around the Town God Temple, which really impressed us with its old Shanghai flavor.

    

Town God Temple is a Taoist temple built in 1403, during the Yongle era of the Ming dynasty, but today mainly refers to a large commercial and tourist district surrounding the temple. If you are temporarily tired of the high modern buildings and people hurrying for work in Shanghai, head for Town God Temple. Here are arrays of stores, shops, restaurants, teahouses, as well as annual temple fair events. And most of those store structures are around a century old of traditional Chinese features, very interesting and a beautiful place to photograph.

Today the Town God’s Temple is also known as the Yuyuan Market, for being connecting to the Yuyuan Garden, one of China’s loveliest private classical gardens. We really fall love in love with the various local snacks in the Town God’s Temple area, such as steamed buns, the pigeon-egg-like dumplings, the Babaofan, the Nanxiang Xiaolongbao, the dumplings with the wine stuffing, and so much more!

Oriental Statues Museum – Mount Maiji Grottoes

There are top four famous Buddhist grottoes In china: Longmen grottoes in Luoyang, Yungang grottoes in Datong, Mogao grottoes in Dunhuang, and Maijishan Grottoes in Tianshui. Yet the last one is what we would like to introduce today.

Maijishan Grottoes finds itself 35km southeast of Tianshui city, Gansu province, and is known as an appealing site along ancient Chinese Silk Road. It was the major part of the Maijishan Mountain scenic area, which is 142 meters high, shaped like a pile of wheat and endowed with green cypresses and pines.

It is said that Mount Maiji Grottoes were first excavated in Later Qin of the Sixteen Kingdoms period (384-417), and were reconstructed during Northern Wei (386-534), when Buddhism began to prevail as a cultural force. The excavation and repairing continued until Qing Dynasty (1616-1911) for more than a thousand year. Today we can still find old murals dating back before the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and statues of the Northern Dynasties (386 – 581) in Mount Maiji Grottoes.

Maijishan Grottoes preserves 194 grottoes in all carved on the east and west cliffs of the mountain, resembling a huge honeycomb, with 7,200 pieces of clay or stone statues vividly carved and more than 1,300 square meters of mural paintings. If the Mogao Grotto group is regarded as an ancient fresco museum, then Mount Maiji Grottoes is an ” Oriental Statues museum”, being the finest example of China’s sculpture through the ages. The clay statues vary in height, from 16 meters to 10 centimeters, showing distinctive sculpture features of different dynasties in Chinese history. The Grottoes are connected by zigzagging plank roads, through which visitors can reach each cave successfully, and have a breathtaking experience.

Apart from the exquisite clay sculptures and murals, there are also pieces of pottery, bronze ware, ironware, and jade articles, as well as ancient Buddhist scriptures and documents and other cultural relics. All these make up a treasure house for people to appreciate and do research on ancient Chinese Buddhist, art and architecture.