Regarded as one of the top archaeological finding of the 20th century, which a couple of farmers stumbled upon while digging a well in 1974, The Terracotta army of Xian is one of the must visit places of any China story.Excited though exhausted after our stay in Beijing we moved ahead in our journey to Xian -the first capital of unified China.
There were two reasons for the excitement -One riding a bullet train at a speed of 300km/hr and second to be able to visit the ancient Terracotta Warriors. The 5 hour journey was comfortable with utmost professionalism more like a flight journey with attendants passing us the food menu, checking on our needs etc. We dint notice how time flew and we were in Xian.
Somehow our plan for Xian was too short , so we did not want to waste the day checking in to hostel . We took a locker service on the Xian Railway Station (as you can get a direct bus from railway station to the Terracotta Warriors), and dumped our luggage at the locker room.All set to see the reputed Eighth wonder of the world we took a bus for the museum of Terracotta Warriors.
The Terracotta army of Warriors
Qin Shi Huang ,the first emperor of unified china built this afterlife army to protect himself .It was believed then that objects like statutes can be animated in after life.Located in the worlds largest imperial tomb complex the Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum - The Terracota army museum is huge ,just like most of the architecural beauties of China.The 8000 unique life sized statutes differing in expressions,clothing, and ranks and features, gives us an insight to the military might as well as detailed artistry of that time- 2000 years ago , 700,000 artists took 40 years to build this mausoleum for their emperor .
The Museum is divided into three pits and an exhibition hall .
The first pit contains the main Army of soldiers, commanders and thier horses.
The second Pit has the highlights of the vaults and mostly contains the archers , chariots and the cavalry units .
The Third Pit the smallest and the most important of them hosts the command post and consists of 68 terracota figurines of Officials .
It was an over whelming movement for me, just like a Hollywood movie. It seemed every statute is in the brink of coming alive , and at any moment an arrow will zoom pass me ,and the nearest soldier with attack me chanting his war cry .
With many more Teracotta figures still being unearthed in Xian of acrobats , musicians and other members of the court , and the doors of the emperors tomb still not opened , I am sure many more mysteries will be uncovered and the museum will get more addition to it's impressive collection .
We took a lot of photos of the army ,as well as few with them .
the area outside is surrounded by beautiful mountains and calms you down after seeing such wonders inside. Hungry after 3 hours of history lessons ,we bought some peaches on the way and boarded the bus back to Xian Railway station .
Thankfully the taxi driver took us to Han Tang Hostel without confusion.It was a very beautiful place with the flags of different countries all over. We had a quick shower and ventured out to explore the area.
There was some delicious looking street food in the area, which we didn’t try as we already had our meals. We had a nice long walk at night. Thank god we were not lost again. :D
Bell tower of Xian
Next day we visited the bell tower of Xian ,which was near to our hostel. The bell tower was made during the Ming Dynasty and it is one of the largest bell towers in the world. The tower with a square base is made up of brick and timber and around 40 meters high. Its impressive to see and looks beautiful when illuminated in the evenings .
Below are the few places which we were not able to visit due to shortage of time , but are must see places in Xian , if you are planning to visit it for more than 2 days .
Wolong Temple - which literally means sleeping dragon , is an ancient buddhist temple that was constructed more than 1,800 years ago during the Lingdi's reign (AD 168-189). Once a leading monastery of Xian it was destroyed in republican period and later rebuilt,is a peaceful spot and a great place to stop and relax and observe local life.The main attraction are the painted 24 Devas kings - like Indian gods brahma, Indra and also shakyamuni Buddha .
The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda
The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is a holy Buddhist pagoda that was built in 652 during the Tang Dynasty. One of the pagoda's many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveler Xuanzang. Xuanzang made seventeen overland trips between China and India, bringing back relics and other important pieces of Buddhist history.His adventurous and defining journey formed the basis of the popular Ming-dynasty novel Journey to the West.
The Great Mosque of Xi'an
The mosque is a 130,000 square meter complex ,and is the oldest and one of the most renowned mosques in the country, having been founded in 742. One of the special thing about the Great Mosque of Xi'an is that constructed entirely in the Chinese style, aside from some calligraphy and other smaller Arabic decorations.It is architecture is like any traditional Chinese temple, with successive courtyards of pavilions and pagodas occupying a long and narrow site.It is aligned on an east-west axis, facing Mecca.
The Daming Palace Heritage park
Built in AD 635 ,The Daming Palace was once the largest and most grandiose imperial palace of the world. It was the centre of political ,economical and culture of Tang Dynasty (618-907) during their rule.It served as the royal residence of the Tang emperors for more than 200 years till plundered and burnt by a fire .The grand imperial residence is surrounded by a very spacious park, and the entire palace complex and park area is a designated national heritage site.
It’s a good place to have some non-vegetarian delicacies because of the presence of a large community of Muslims. You should definitely visit the Muslim quarters to have one of the best street food in Xian. You will find a great deal of goat and lamb meat too if you want to take a break from pork and beef. There are few Indian restaurants in Xian and you can find them here. And if you are staying in a hostel then you always have a choice of eating western food and you can always tell them to customize it.
Places to stay in Xian
Being a huge tourist destination and big cosmopolitan city , Xian has no dearth of hostels , budget accomodations and 5 star hotels. Notable are backpackers hostels - Han Tang Inn Hostel , BC Villa Inn Hostel .
budget hotels : Citadien central, Bell Tower hotel Xian
5-star hotels : westin Xian ,Shangrila Xian
We travelled to Xian via bullet train from Beijing. But if you want to come straight to Xian, then there are some international flights available from Helsinki, San Francisco, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Macau, Seoul and Singapore through China Airlines and Cebu Pacific airlines.
Bidding Goodbye To Xian
Xian was the capital of the China for around 1000 years making history for 73 of its emperors and so has many attractions .Enough to keep a person marveling for at least a month . Our stay in china being of few weeks , we wanted to visit the must see places , and targeted Xian for Terracotta warriors . We felt really sad for missing few world renowned structures ,we left the city for Chengdu via train ,still the pictures of warriors vivid in my memory.