In total there are over 60 historical sites to be visited and enjoyed in Yinchuan and its vicinity.
Western Xia Kings' Tombs - Xi Xia Wang Ling:
The most famous of all the 50 Tomb-sites in the vicinity of Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is the Tomb of Li Yuanhao, known as Xixia Wanling. The reasons for this are clear and rather simple. Although, Li Yuanhao (李元昊) was by no means the founding father of the Dynasty, he was in fact the first Son to make it to Emperor. Thus, the Tomb of Li Yuanhao is the Tomb of the First Emperor of the Tangut (Xixia) Dynasty which lasted from the year 1038 AD to 1227 AD. Apart from being the Tomb of the first Emperor, it is also the largest such tomb city in the area, as well as among the best preserved examples. Due to its specific location, good feng shui or perhaps just sheer luck, the Xixia Wanling site was spared from floods that sporadically wash of the barren Helan Mountains. Nor was the site damaged by the recurrent floodings of the yellow river in its floodplain below. Last but not least the Li Yuanhao Tomb was the first of the Tangut mausolea to be opened and archeologically excavated and examined.
Although today many more of the Tombs have been scrutinized by historians and archeologists, the Xixia Wanling excavation made the first real breakthroughs, and considering the rarity of the find of any Tangut relic, some breath taking discoveries.
HOW TO GET THERE:
The Li Yuanhao Tomb aka Xixia Wanling can be found just south of the Town of Gunzhongkou which is in the western parts of Yinchuan City Prefecture. Without having ever been to Ningxia, the location can be hard to find. This is not a problem for those who travel with a group or bus. Visitors to the Tangut Royal Tomb site usually start out from the Capital of Ningxia Region, which is Yinchuan, located some 40 kilometers (25 Miles) East of Xixia Wanling. Either book a tourbus to visit the main Tangut Royal Tomb Site, Xixia Wanling from Yinchuan or travel on your own account by Bus or by Car to the mausoleum site. Taking a Taxi to the Xi Xia Wang Ling costs about
100 RMB round trip. Depending on the traffic situation the journey takes around 40 minutes.
The route to Xixia Wanling is hard to describe and quite complicated. Simply following road signs will not do. When traveling alone it is strongly suggested to bring a map and a compass along for proper navigation. Naturally, the correct navigation computer may save the day. Google Maps gives a good idea and view of the route.
In short, to get from Yinchuan to Xixia Wanling World Cultural Heritage Site, follow the south section of Yinchuan Raocheng Expressway westward past the Great Wall Hotel to end up at Pingjibao interchange at the South-West Corner of this Ring Road. Drive straight through, do not turn off and drive on past a medium sized canal. Beyond the interchange the road ends and turns southward as 110 National Road (NOT the Highway!) leading directly to XiXia Wanling. Mind you, beyond along the same road are several more Tomb sites missed by most tour-groups!
ARRIVING AT XIXIA WANLING:
Upon your arrival...
The earth platform in the west of the site was for sacrificial offerings. Behind it is an eye catching mausoleum platform, which today has eroded down into an earthen pile with a remnant height of 23 meters (about 75.44 fee). Originally however the pile stood as a five to seven storied solid eight-sided pagoda, an unique architectural design for mausoleum Tombs in the history of these Regions.
Between the sacrifice palace and mausoleum platform lies earth ridge, under which is corridor leads to the tomb chamber, the so called underground palace.
Although floodings regularly came down from Helan Shan during heavy rains the area of the West Xia Imperial Tombs was left untouched during their 1000 year history. So far 8 or 9 stone kneeling statues with sticking teeth, glower and plump breast with an unknown significance and function were unearthed at the site. Full excavations have yet to be performed.
The Western Xia Imperial Tombs are situated in the western suburb of Yinchuan to the east of Helan Mountain. Complete the grounds stretch 4.5 kilometers from east to west, and 10 kilometers south to north, covering an area of 50 square kilometers. Altogether, so far nine imperial tombs have been
Chinese children play with insects in the grass while their parents worry about seeing the heavily eroded ancient Xixia Kings Tomb (Xixia Wanling) visible in the background.
identified among more than 100 coffin chambers buried in the area. Apart from the main Tombs open to the Public, hundreds of conical hills can be seen over the expenses of Ningxia's wasteland.
The third tomb is the largest and best preserved of the nine imperial tombs. Among things due to its largest size archaeologists believe hold to be the burial chamber of the first Western Xia emperor, Li Yuanhao (李元昊).
THE XIXIA WANLING MUSEUM AND ARCHEOLOGICAL FINDS:
Winter Season：8：30 - 17:30 PM
Summer：8:00 AM - 18:00 PM
Entrance to the Xi Xia Wang Ling: High Season: 60 RMB each, Off-Season: 40 RMB each
The most famous and most visited landmark of the Yinchuan Region by far is the Xixia Wanling - or translated the Tangut Royal Tombs. Although the words Xixia Wanling mainly refer to the No.1 Tomb, which is that of the First Emperor of the Tangut (Xixia) Dynasty (1038 AD - 1227 AD), Li Yuanhao (李元昊), there are a multitude of smaller Tombs, some 50 in total, scattered in the vicinity of Yinchuan underneath the Helan Shan mountain range. All of them contain the remains of members of the Tangut Royal Family, and their occupants were once Emperors, princes, queens and concubines. Today, although all Tombs are offcially highly protected State Cultural Relics, the fact that the tomb mounds and cities are almost randomly found in the region, in practice some of the lesser known tombs find themselves enclosed by farm-lands or are otherwise encroached upon. Many of the Tomb Sites can be visited, but since they lie spread out in an area of some 50 square kilometers (19 square miles) traveling from one to the other can be difficult and time consuming. Since most of the tombs, eroded down over the centuries, look fairly similar hardly anyone ever bothers. The most well-known and most advertised Tomb therefor is definitely the Tomb of Li Yuanhao (李元昊), or Emperor Jingzong. This is the site known as Xixia Wanling.
Although the ruined Tomb Site and nearby smaller examples usually fail to impress foreigners, hardly any of whom can appreciate the once nearly lost Tangut Civilization, the Tangut Royal Tomb has a mystic lure for Chinese Tourists who flock to the site in much larger numbers. As a surviving relic of often romantically described silk road days and the number one Imperial Tomb of a once lost Dynasty and a people about whom until recently very little was known, a visit to the
Read more on the landmarks & monuments of Yinchuan City and Ningxia Region :
A Tangut Era terracotta earthen statue of an Apsarah, or Buddhist Angel, in the Xixia Wanling Museum. Apsarahs have become icons of Silk Road Art.
Full Google Map of Yinchuan centered on Chentian Si for your directions.
site is worth your while. You may be surpised if you thought the Tanguts were barbarian nomadic people. Far from it. The Tanguts had an advanced civilization with its own language and script. And there was so much more.
Notably, apart from the mulitude of simalr looking eroded earthen mounds, the nearby Baisikou - one hundred temple pass, some ways North of the Tomb Site, once served as the summer resort of Emperor Li Yuanhao and succeeding rulers of the Western Xia Dynasty. It was a sprawling resort which had a number of Buddhist Monasteries attached. A visit to Xixia Wanling combines well with a visit to Baisikou, where the Twin Pagodas of Baisikou give a thrilling reminder of the splendor that once was. Created by the Tangut Dynasty and its peculiar people. Read the full introduction below.
HISTORY OF XIXIA WANLING - TANGUT ROYAL TOMBS:
The Western Xia imperial tombs were discovered by accident during the construction of a military air field in 1972. The soldiers were digging at the site in order to lay foundations when they found a dozen pieces of old pottery and some bricks. With the help of archaeologists from the Ningxia Museum, the ancient tombs were finally unearthed.
The relics included mural paintings, delicate handicrafts, ancient pottery, and bricks covered in square designs. After careful tests and research, the archaeologists ascertained that the tombs belonged to the emperors of the 11th century Western Xia regime, and the words on the bricks were actually Western Xia (Tangut) characters. The Tanguts had their own script.
Detailed investigations and research on the tombs have been carried out ever since. So far only one imperial tomb has been uncovered, as well as four coffin chambers and stone-tablet pavilions. Other relics found on site include sculptures, coins and pottery which revealed a historical record written in Western Xia characters and paintings depicting scenes of the the Western Xia people's nomadic lifestyle. The uniquely-shaped stone carvings and clay sculptures, rare finds from this short-lived ancient Empire have also provided archaeology experts with additional sources for clues about this ancient and nearly lost civilization.
ARCHITECTURE OF THE LI YUANHAO TOMB AT XIXIA WANLING:
Each of the tombs is a complete and more or less preserved architectural complex. The halls above the ground are mostly destroyed and ruined in ruins however the mourning platforms and sacred walls remain largely intact.