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The Western Xia Tombs

Just east of Helan Mountain near Yinchuan in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region are the Western Xia Tombs -- the "Pyramids of China." The "Pyramids" are the tombs of royalty from the Western Xia Dynasty that ruled the Ningxia-Gansu corridor during the Song Dynasty era. They are located about 18 miles west of Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia Hui. While they remain a majestic site, they are crumbling at this point in time. Li Yuanhau, the founder of the Western Xia Dynasty declared himself emperor in 1038 A.D. and in doing so provoked the animosity of the Song Dynasty, who viewed him as a vassal. Li Yuanhau was not Chinese, but a member of a Tibetan-speaking Tangut tribe. The Western Xia rulers did, however, try to mimic Chinese Song Dynasty life in many ways. In 1227 A.D., the Western Xia Kingdom was conquered by Genghis Khan. The site of the tombs in modern the Ningxia Autonomous region is about 6 miles north to south and 2.5 miles east to west. Each individual tomb is a separate architectural structure, with battlements, archways, a stele pavilion, outer and inner walls, a memorial hall, an altar, and other structures. One imperial tomb, excavated in 1972, has a sloped passage way extending about 150 feet underground to a area where a square coffin was placed. A large number of objects (gold ornaments, jewelry, carvings, armor) were found in the tomb. Only that one imperial tomb (believed to belong to Li Yuanhau, the dynasty's founder) and four smaller tombs have been excavated. Some sources say there are eight imperial tombs at the site; others record nine imperial tombs. Over 140 smaller tombs are there. The Western Xia Museum, located at the site, houses many of the artifacts found in Li Yuanhao's tomb. The earth and brick construction of the Western Xia Tombs reflects the differences in culture and available resources in Western China when compared to truly Chinese tombs like those of the Song and Ming dynasties.

Great Wall Relics in Ningxia

The Great Wall relics in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous region, are known as China's Museum of the Great Wall. This includes that built in the Warring States Period (475 B.C.- 221 B.C.), in the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-206 B.C.), in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-230), in the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and in the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644). So the part of the Great Wall in Ningxia assembles various architectural forms including those rammed with earth, constructed with sand and gravel and built with rocks. The part of the Great Wall in the Zhongwei City of Ningxia which was built during the reign of the Qinshihuang (259- 210 B.C.), the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty who unified China for the first time in history, saw its wall seriously destroyed after over 2,000 years of exposure to the raid of wind and rain and the baptism of frequent wars. And the wall base of the part in the Shizuishan City along the Helan Mountains which was built in the Ming Dynasty has collapsed as a result of years of erosion of wind and sand. There are mainly Western Great Wall, Northern Great Wall, Eastern Great Wall and inner walls of Guyuan in Ningxia with an over 400 kms long and the Qin Great Wall relics in the north of Guyuan county are remainly clear.

Nanguan Grand Mosque

Nanguan Grand Mosque where the people of Hui in Yinchuan carry out the religious activities , is the main mosque in Yinchuan, capital of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. On every special Friday or traditional festivals yearly ,hundreds of Muslim come together here for worship and prayer. The Hui are China's Muslims, descended from traders from the Middle East who came to China more than a thousand years ago. Nanguan Mosque is situated in the south of Yinchuan City. It was originally built in 1915 and was rebuilt in 1981. It coversan area of 2074 square meters and was divided into two parts. The Prayer Hall can hold over 1,000 people. It is a building of distinctive Islamic architectural styles.

Zhongshan Park Yinchuan

Located in the northwest of Yinchuan, Zhongshan Park is the largest park in the city of Yinchuan. The place was the site of Yuanhao's palace in the Western Xia Kingdom according the record in Zhicheng. Yuanhao Palace was known as its large scale and luxury at that time and the first great building in Xingqingfu , the capital of Western Xia Kingdom. However, it was burnt down by the fight fire.During the period of Jiajing's reign in the Ming Dynasty, it was used for placing the army and horses and called "West Horse Camp". Until 1929, Men Zhizhong,subordination of Feng Yuxiang, built a park here and named "Zhongshan Park" . Now the park's area has been enlarged to 780 acreas and "Martyr Memeorial Pavilion", "Shuofang Pavilion" , "Science and Technology Station for Youth", "Children's Paradise", zoo and other sights and recreation sites have been added as the circumspective planning and construction for more than 30 years after 1949.

Jade Emperor Pavilion

The Jade Emperor Pavilion (Yuhuang Ge in Chinese) is dedicated to the eponymous deity, who according to Chinese legend is the leader of all the gods. The Jade Emperor is considered the omnipotent ruler of Heaven and Earth as well as the spirit world. The bronze statue of this all powerful Emperor, once worshiped by the faithful, stands in the pavilion. Situated at the crossroads of Jiefang Road and Yuhuangge Street in Yinchuan City, the pavilion, with its history of more than 600 years, was built originally during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was destroyed by earthquake during the Qing Dynasty in the reign of Qianlong (1711-1799), and was rebuilt later. The Jade Emperor Pavilion is the main structure within a group of buildings and has a height of about 22 meters (72 feet) and covers an area of about 1040 square meters (1244 square yards). It stands on a rectangular rammed-earth base, through which runs a north-south archway; there are steps providing access to the pavilion on the north-western side. This is the only remaining traditional wooden structure in Yinchuan and you are sure to be left with a deep impression by the exquisitely designed and constructed winged eaves, curved-canopy roofs, the cloisters and the red-lacquered balustrades. Together with the bell tower and the drum tower, standing respectively to the east and west, the overall complex resembles a flying roc with great majesty and beauty. The Jade Emperor Pavilion is an embodiment of the consummate skill of the ancient craftsmen of Yinchuan and contributes greatly to the study of the architectural style and materials used during the Ming Dynasty. Considerable attention has been paid to protection work and the pavilion is now open as one of Yinchuan's major tourist attractions.

Western Xia Museum

Western Xia Museum is the first museum which uses the imperial tombs of Western Xia Kingdom as the background and displays the history and vicissitudes of Western Xia Dynasty truly .It covers an area of 5300 square meters with deep architectural styles of the Western Xia nationality. It boasts a collection of 671 typical artifacts of Western Xia and 413 pieces of paper, magazine, monograph and articles. There are columns carved with dragons, stone horses, large glazed Chiwen (an ornament at either end of the roof ridge of a Chinese-style house), tablets in Western Xia writing, ceramics, sutra, buddha drawing, armor and so on. The frescos on the second floor of the museum are the highlights of grotto art in Western Xia Dynasty and make people appreciate the past brilliance of Western Xia Kingdom.

Haibao Pagoda

The Haibao Pagoda (Sea Treasure Pagoda), with a history of over 1,500 years, is situated in Yinchuan City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.Since it is in the northern suburb of the City, it is also called 'North Pagoda'. It is not known when it was originally founded; literary record has it that the pagoda was rebuilt in the fifth century. Over the centuries the Haibao Pagoda has endured several earthquakes. It has collapsed and been rebuilt time and time again. The existing pagoda was restored in the year 1788 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is one of the eight highlights in Ningxia and is on the list of the sixteen famous pagodas in China. Haibao Pagoda is a pavilion-style pagoda, with nine tiers and eleven flights of stairs. The rectangular pagoda is made of bricks, 53.9 meters (about 177 feet) high. Haibao Pagoda has a square base, 5.7 meters (about 18 feet) in height and 19.7 meters (about 65 feet) in length. On the first floor, there is an arched door and a portico. From the second floor up, each storey has four arched doors that protrude a bit. Recesses in the wall were also built on both sides of the doors to add to the luxuriance and give a third dimension. There are wind-chimes hanging on all the corners, and these fill the place with pleasing sound on windy days. All told, our Pagoda is built in a style rarely seen in ancient pagoda architecture. There is a square chamber on each floor which is encircled by a wooden stairs winding up from below. The molding decreases by fifteen to twenty centimeters from the base upwards, storey by storey. The top of the pagoda has a distinctive shape, for it looks like a peach made up with green colored glaze bricks. This color is in sharp contrast to the grey body, which contributes to what we might call the Pagoda's civility and liveliness. From the top, it is possible to see the Yellow River (Huanghe) away to the east, while to the west the majesty of Helan Moutain can be enjoyed. The view is comparable in beauty with any of the delicate scenery in South China. No wonder the pagoda is regarded as the symbol of Yinchuan City.

Yinchuan Chengtian Temple (Chengtian Si)

Chengtian Temple is located on the southwest of Yinchuan. The existing museum and the ancient construction exhibition room that collected many precious cultural relics on Ningxia history, the nationality, and the military and so on are in the Chengtian Temple located in the courtyard. The existing constructions were constructed in courtyard type along the central axis from east to west. They are the Five Hall, the Buddha Pagoda, the Weitai hall and the Lying Buddhist Hall. The courtyard is broad, with very tall ancient trees. The Chengtian Temple Pagoda is an eight-square, 11-floors Chinese style pavilions made of brick. The height is 64.5 meters. It is a wooden plank structure with the wooden ladder circling on it. In 1050, tens of thousands of soldiers constructed the Chengtian Temple and the Chengtian Temple Pagoda lasted for five to six years. The "Buddhist Scriptures" and the Buddha’s bones are buried under the base of the pagoda. The eminent monks were asked to ascend the place to have sermon on the same year, with the empress dowager and emperor frequently attending the sermons. The incense and candle is exuberant and there are many Buddhist priests in the temple.

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