Our bottom-up discovery of China continued starting from Hong Kong, then to Zhangjiajie Avatar mountain and Tianmen Mountain, followed by the ancient town of Fenghuang and after that, we got closer to listening to the heartbeats of China because we arrived in Xi’an (pronounced as “shee-aan) which is fondly called as the Heart of China because it is the hotbed of Chinese civilisation being the capital of 13 Chinese dynasties serving as the capital of 70 emperors!
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· Half day is ideal to explore the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an
· Start early, take the shuttle bus from Xi’an North Railway Station to the site 30km east of Xi’an
· Ticket prices are 150CNY per person (April 2017)
· There are 3 pits with statues, Pit 1 is the best one and best views are from the front or from the corners
· Get your passport stamped with Terracotta Army seals before exit
· Keep in mind that the excavations are still continuing, it was first found in 1974 and the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is not excavated yet – so who knows you may have to return soon!
Naturally trying to explore a country without knowing its heart is of no use, so a trip to China will remain unfulfilled if you have not visited Xi’an, the starting point of the famous Silk Route. It is certainly true that our main motive of visiting Xi’an was to see the magnificent Terracotta Warriors which have been dubbed as the 8th Wonder of the World. Having caught a late evening flight from Zhangjiajie, we arrived after midnight at Xi’an. As soon as the taxi entered into the city area, we were introduced for the first time to the Chinese urban development in the main land. The peace and tranquillity of the midnight trip from the airport to our hotel exhibited pompously how even a city like Xi’an is growing in leaps and bounds with its modern infrastructures, buildings, roads and flyovers.
By the time we arrived at Xi’an and had a chance to freshen up and hit the bed in our wonderful Citadel Hotel, it was already 4am! Physically exhausted but mentally charged up, we knew that we only had the following day to be face to face with the more than 8000 Terracotta Army statues in Xi’an. We may sleep on time every day for the rest of the year, but how many times we would get this opportunity to see the wonders of this world up, close and personal? You could very well spend upto a week or in Xi’an exploring its various historic and cultural attractions. But given that our master travel plan was already very intensive, we had that one precious day in Xi’an to make the most of it.
Couple of hours later, we woke up in the blink of an eye, had breakfast in the hotel and took a taxi to the nearby Xi’an North Railway Station from where the cheap and frequent shuttle bus #5 ferried passengers to the Terracotta Warriors excavation site which was 30km east of Xi’an main city and the ride took an hour or so. From the parking lot to the main entrance of the museum, it was around a 15 minute walk and there was the option to take a short cart ride which we opted for.
There were 3 main vaults or pit which had been excavated by the archaelogists since the discovery of the site by local farmers in 1974. Pit One is the most popular, the most impressive and it hosts under one roof around 2000 of the Terracotta Warriors. Interestingly no two warrior statues looked alike, they were very much different in terms of facial features, weapons and the uniforms.
Pit Two hosted the ancient army array and the Pit Three had the command post. The museum not only displayed the discovery of the warrior figures but also there were numerous chariots and statues of horses found as well.
We did not forget to take a pause and spend some moments of reflection during walking between the pits by resting under some blissful cherry-blossom trees which were full in bloom. And as usual, Tanusree went prepared wearing a cherry-blossom print dress. Pondering at the wish that the first Emperor of China – Qin Shi Huang had to have his large army of soldiers would protect him after death. The construction work started in 246BC and it took more than 700,000 labourers had spent around 40 years to build these marvellous sculptures only to be discovered in 1974. Deemed as the most significant archaeological discovery of our times, we still wondered about the elements yet to be discovered below ground.
We also ventured into the Tian Lai Teahouse situated inside the museum premises. With a fill demonstration and an information session, we were entertained to a range of Chinese tea where the hostess explained the history and benefits of each flavour we tried – Oolong, Jasmine, Longjing! Tea is an integral part of Chinese social and family lives and this tradition could be dated back to the Tang Dynasty. The hostess explained that even the water needed to be of certain temperature to bring out the best flavour of specific types of tea. We enjoyed a few rounds of Tea to cheer for the Terracotta Armies!
Once we returned to our hotel, we freshened up and headed to Sofitel Hotel to have a sumptuous buffet dinner. With the accumulated fatigue from the last few days of hectic travelling and the sleepless night in Xi’an earlier, we finally had some time to rest our feet while relishing the local and international cuisines.
We wish we could have stayed one more day in Xi’an but we felt content having witnessed one of the most wonderful archaeological discoveries in the world. It goes without saying that once the excavation of the tomb of the Emperor Qin will be completed, we will not shy away from revisiting Xi’an.
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