To The China Report Main Menu
The Zhangye Report
Zhangye Landmarks & Monuments
Go to webring
To Main Menu of All Websites at DrBen.Net at
Among the many landmarks of Zhangye City and Area, the most renowned and readily
available is its Great Buddha Temple (or Big Buddha Temple) which has a Towering
Pagoda dated over 1400 years old, as well as a giant reclining buddha statue. Find the Temple
known in Chinese as Dafo Si, at the South End of town where it has 'always' been.
Other impressive ancient landmarks include several relatively under-advertized section sof the
Great Wall of China, The World Cultural Heritage Mati Si Buddhist Caves and their uniquely preserved Cave Art, and then some other ancient Temples with remarkable architectural features and great historical value.

READ MORE IN: "Zhangye Report - Zhangye Counties Landmarks & Monuments - Index.
Sound Bonus: Marco Polo- "La Grande Muraglia", by Rondo Venetiano.
Great Buddha Temple - Dafo Si & Wooden Pagoda:
Dafo si, the Great Buddha Temple is Zhangye's first and most visible historic Monument and Tourist attraction. The Dafo Si's earliest existance dates to the years of the Northern Sui Dynasty when Zhangye was already firmly within the (Han) Chinese Cultural Sphere. At the time it was known as Wanshou Temple.
Drum Tower - Gulou:
The Drum and Bell-Tower sits in the Center of Town. The tower was built in the year 1507 AD of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) and is styled accordingly. The whole architectural concept for the tower was to built it as smaller copy of Xian's Bell Tower, an impressive and massive block tower. With its imppresive size the Zhangye Bell and Drum Tower the biggest drum tower in the Hexi Corridor. Also called Zhenyuan Tower and popularly known as the Drum Tower (Gu Lou) it has a traditional Chinese Ming Style of architecture with splendid cornice and fine carving.
In essence the construction is formed of a square lower level made of stone and resembling a City Wall. On top of the Platform sits the wooden Tower pavilion which has two tiers and houses a massive bronze bell. It is thus in fact also a Bell-Tower (Zong Lou). Drums are fitted on the exterior platform. The four streets radiating out from the Drum Tower are, Bei jie - North Street, Dong Jie - East Street, Nan Jie - South Street and Xi Jie - West Street. These main streets are as is common throughout China named after their respective compass points.
Most scenic sites within Zhangye are located south of the Central Drum Tower.
To Previous Page - Zhangye Main Menu - Introduction
Click Image to go to FULL Map Version !!
Route Map of Xuanzang's "Journey to The West" (India).
Today's Buddha Statue has been renovated rebuilding it from Clay, Soil and the modern material known as plastic. Covered in gold plating it measures 34.5 meters wide and 7.5 meters high at the shoulders. The head of Buddha is gargantuan and has ears some impressive 2 meter long ears. According to local tales 8 people can sit on the ears, side by side.

The Shrine Hall that holds the reclining Buddha Statue -offcially known as the Nirvana Posture- is an ancient monument and as one of the oldest buildings in the complex of today is one of the few wooden structures surviving of its era. Behind the Main Hall is an impressive white Stupa reminding of Tibetan influences.
Another feature of the Temple is the two-storey building called Scripture Pavilion, which was reconstructed at the end of Qing Dynasty (1644 AD -1911AD). With its 27.4 meters (89.9 feet) height and five-room broad span, the building holds over 6000 priceless original buddhist scriptures, a national treasure of sorts.
The exterior of the Scriptures Pavilion was decorated with railings and layered terraces. The Pavilion is found behind and North of the Pagoda.

The wooden Pagoda itself is 9 story's high and sits upon a twenty by twenty meter brick foundation which dates to the year 528 AD. Reaching a height of 32.8 meters (107.6 feet) the Pagoda has dominated its section of Zhangye Town for many centuries past. Surviving natural disasters such as earthquakes, storms and lightning, the Dafo Si Pagoda is a unique remnant of an ancient Era. its beauty and architectural genius only surpassed by the Zhengding Pagoda in Hebei Province.

The Pagoda, Mu Ta, has a unique octagon shaped structure with in each tier with eight dragonhead woodcarvings on each angle of the roof. The Dragonheads carry a bead in the mouth and a wind-bell below their necks. Founded upon a brick platform, the main body of the first to seventh storeys are constructed with brick walls but wooden eaves.
The eaves are formed into pavilion style structure. Within the pagoda, each floor has doors, cloisters, engraved windows and lintels, which were embedded with brick carved steles. The eighth and ninth storeys of this Pagoda are entirely constructed of wood.

The pagoda tapers gradually from the bottom, while the height of the storeys becomes lower with each succesive step. The doors and windows are on different sides of different storeys giving the Pagoda a frivolous asymetrical look. There are doors on the east and west sides of the first storey; false doors on the east and west sides and false windows on the south and north sides of the second storey; doors on four sides and moon-shaped windows on the third storey; doors on the east and west sides and false windows on the south and north sides of the fifth storey; doors on four sides of the six storey, and no doors but moon-shaped windows on the south and north sides of the seventh storey.
Carved on the false windows are designs of flowers, and above the doors are inscribed boards. The board over the east door of the first storey says, "Reach paradise," and the inscription above the west door says, "Enter the state of samadhi. " The whole pagoda looks steady and exquisite. 

The 9 Story Pagoda of Dafo Si is unique from most other pagodas because neither a nail nor a rivet can be found in the entire structure. Ascending to the top, one can get a panoramic view of the surrounding city of today.

Records show that the pagoda had been renovated several times during the Sui (581 AD - 618 AD) Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty (618 AD -907 AD), the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) and the last feudal Dynasty, the Ching (1644 AD - 1911 AD). The ancient wooden pagoda was finally brought down by high desert winds in the year 1911 AD, but it was restored in 1926 AD.
The present Wooden Pagoda has been well kept since. Recently, between 1983 to 1986, the local government allocated funds to restore the whole temple. With an increase in funding from a local and provincial level made possibly by China's economic miracle, the Dafo Si has been well maintained, serving as a Jewel in the Crown of the City and its thriving Tourism Industry.
The Great Buddha Temple of Zhangye is one of Zhangye City Prefectures 'Five Elements' Pagodas. The elements being: Metal, wood, water, fire and earth (The other 4 such Pagoda's will be described on this website later).
Due to its ancient history and distinct features the Zhangye Pagoda of Dafo Si is considered magnificent and unique, even within China.

Last but not least, the Zhangye Folk Customs Museum is located in the Wooden Pagoda Temple.

To find the exact location easiest. Start by locating the drum tower in the old Center of Zhangye. From there it is some distance walking, two blocks southward and one block westward to find the Great Buddha Temple. Luckily, at most times the Top of the wooden Pagoda can be seen, thus guiding the way.
Locally, the address of the Temple Complex is described as located in the south street of Zhangye County Government, but visitors who don't know where to find the City Hall are lost with such directions.

Due to its central location in Town, during the high season the Temple can be quite heavily visited, with tour groups of mostly Chinese Nationals flocking by. The current admission fee is CNY 50. Opening Hours are between: 08:00 AM and 17:30 PM.
Apart from its magnificent 9-story wooden Pagoda it is also home to a giant 35 meter long reclining Buddha statue, which is surrounded by 10 Guardian Buddha's known as Lohan, disciples. Two side halls sitting besides the Main Shrine Hall contain some 18 more statues of the Saintly Warriors. Each of them has a unique gesture and expression.
The reclining Buddha of Zhangye is said to be the largest reclining Buddha Statue in the Nation. It lies peacefully within the Main Shrine Hall, surrounded by eroded Clay Arhats (Guardians) and a colorful collection of impressive Murals dating to the Qing Dynasty Era (1368 AD-1644 AD). The unique murals are originals depicting episodes from the ancient Chinese encyclopedia and from the famous Tale 'Journey to the West', a classic in Chinese Literature and still enormously popular today. The Tale is very loosely based on the Travels of the Monk Xuanzang, who after conquering many obstacles reached "Nirvana", in his case the holy land of India, where he found wisdom and his many scriptures.
Ganquan Park in Zhangye:
Just away from the small Cities' Center, in the northwest corner of the downtown area  sits Ganquan Park, a traditional Chinese Garden with plenty of Green, water, pavilions and rockeries. According to the local Tourism Agency the garden is intended to resemble the classical gardens of water rich Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. Whichever way it is, during most of the season the Park is a great place to relax, have a lunch, watch the activities or meet a business contact in leisurely surroundings.
Xilai Temple is supposedly situated in the southwestern area of the city, however it does not show up on Google Maps, or other Maps of the Town. Accroding to source, Xilai Temple was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD) and reconstructed during the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD). The major buildings of the temple are Guanyin Palace and the Cangjing (Scripture Preserving) Building.
Xilai Temple in Zhangye:
This page was last updated on: August 3, 2017
My Great Web page
Zhangye Regional Landmarks
Zhangye History
Zhangye Landmarks
Gansu Sources
Gansu Province
Baiyin Home
Gansu Province Home
China Offline Sources Home
China Report Home
China Online Sources
China Online Store
China Maps
China Photo Galleries
China Report Club
Wuwei Home
Baiyin Prefecture
Zhangye Home
Tianshui Home
JiaYuGuan Home
JiuQuan Prefecture
Aksay AC Home
Dunhuang City Home
JiuQuan Home
Dingxi Home
Dingxi Prefecture
Gannan Home
Gannan Prefecture
Lanzhou Home
Huixian Home
Longnan Prefecture
Pingliang Home
Linxia (Hui) Prf.
Linxia Home
Qingyang Home
Jinchang Home
Gansu Economy
Gansu History
Gansu Monuments
Gansu Maps
Gansu Minorities
Yellow River in Gansu
Zhangye Maps
Zhangye Minorities
City Landmarks
Counties + Landmarks
Minle County
Zhangye Sources:
Linze County
Gaotai County
Shandan County
Sunan Yugur County