We have many programmes for today, although this is a rest day. This city has a rich and culturally significant history. The Lantian county, 50 kms. south east of Xi’an city, dates back to about 5,00,000 years. A 6,500 years old Neolithic village, Banpo, was discovered in 1953 on the eastern outskirts of Xi’an.
China was unified under the Qin dynasty for the first time, in the year 221 BC, with capital located at Xianyang, just northwest of modern Xi’an. The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of Terracotta Army.
The Terracotta army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210-209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife. The literal meaning of Terracotta Army is Soldier and horse funerary statues.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong county outside Xi’an city, while digging wells for water for irrigation.
We went to see this wonderful site, which is a World Heritage site and one of the most important sightseeing tourist spots in China.
It is about 45 minutes’ drive from the city. The place is huge. The excavation work and restoration of sculptures found, are still going on. There are only 3 pits open to public.
There is a huge 230 metres long and 62 metres wide hall which is Pit No. 1. The sculptures are so many in numbers, we lost the count. There were sculptures of different height. It is said that the height of the soldier described his role. The tallest being the Generals. There was a hospital also. It is under restoration and improvements.
The Pit No. 2 is the most spectacular of the three pits. The combat formation in this pit is more complex. According to preliminary calculations, there are over 80 war chariots, about 1,300 terracotta warriors and horse, and thousands of bronze weapons inside it. Till now, only one sixth of the pit has been fully excavated while the rest are partially unearthed to reveal the remains of the wooden shelters.
The Pit No. 3 is the smallest one with area of 520 square metres. It was the command centre for both Terracotta Warriors Pit 1 and 2. This pit can be divided into 3 parts: Chariot and horse chambers, Northern wing room and southern wing room. It is believed that the Northern wing room was used for used to praying for victory and southern wing room was used for collecting military tactics.
Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits.
It was huge area. We took a battery-operated car to reach the World Heritage site from the entrance. We had walked about 5 kms. thereafter. We were very tired by the time we returned to the hotel.
We had programme to visit the night market and Bell tower and few more places in the evening. We were so tired, we decided to skip the evening programme so that we are ready for long drive tomorrow to Lanzhou.