Text by Erza S.T.
Photos by Erza S.T. and Shangri-La Xian
After some sharp cold and snowy days in Beijing, I decided to go to the original ancient capital of China, Xian, long before the Ming Dynasty moved it to Beijing. Located in the heart of Shaanxi Province, Xian was recognized as one of the four great ancient capitals of China. It was also the capital city for five dynasties and was the starting point of the Silk Road. But my reason for visiting this city was none other than to see one of the most famous tombs in the world. That of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who led the Qin Dynasty (220BC-210BC), and his famous Terracotta Army.
As the car brought me to the outskirts of Xian where the tomb is located, my mind could not help thinking the about history that we were taught in school about this particular emperor. The name Qin Shi Huang is very well known, not only as the person behind the building of the Great Wall of China, but also as the ruler who successfully expanded and united the whole of China. Prior to his death, he caused another commotion by creating a city-sized mausoleum guarded by the life-sized Terracotta Army. As controversial as he might have been, I have the utmost admiration for his achievement.
The Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses was as exciting as I have always imagined. Divided into three different areas or pits, visitors can see that the archeological excavation is still in progress with real archeologists working on the tomb. The lines of stunning life sized terracotta soldiers have different facial expressions and details, and are just so surreal. Not only are there thousands of warriors but also bronze chariots and horse statues too, and visitors can view them from a gallery where they can be seen up close.
An interesting fact to know is that the museum only features the outside of the burial site. The actual mausoleum that looks like a pyramid mound outside this area is actually not yet open, so as to preserve the valuable artifacts inside. However this mausoleum is not the only one in Xian. As a city that once served five Chinese dynasties, there are actually many more pyramid mounds that resemble the mountains surrounding Xian.Click to view slideshow.
Qin Shi Huang is well known as the ruler who successfully expanded and united the whole of China.
With high curiosity, I went to explore another great less popular tomb near the Xian Airport called Han Yang Ling Museum. With a similar pyramid shape to the Museum Qin, here lies the tomb of Emperor Jindi and his Empress from the Han Dynasty (188BC-141BC). I found this tomb to be more convenient to visit as there were less tourists. Here, visitors can descend into the pit through a rectangular tunnel made of glass. Dimly lit, the tomb has a mysterious feeling as you enter. Many objects have been unearthed including warrior figures with weapons, elegant palace maids with Han costumes, countless animals with vivid expressions and many other details, all made in a smaller scale compared to what I saw earlier with the Terracotta Army. In here, you can really see the difference of the two dynasties and is definitely worth the visit.
After two visits to ancient tombs, I was ready to get back to modernity, and by that I mean the Shangri-La Hotel Xian. Located in the prestigious financial and shopping district of the GaoXin Hi-tech Development Zone, the Shangri-La Hotel is without a doubt one of the best five-star establishment in the city. With 390 rooms and suites this hotel really makes a great home while you are in this city. My deluxe city room came with great panoramic views, a spacious marble bathroom and complimentary WI-FI. During my visit, I really enjoyed the authentic Shaanxi homemade noodles at Tian Xiang Ge restaurant. Not only was it extremely tasty, it was also a fulfilling meal that recharged my energy levels. Shangri-La Xian is surrounded by great shopping malls within a short walking distance.
The whole Xian experience, though it was short, was really memorable. If you have a bit of time, make sure to take a bicycle ride to the city wall of Xian. It is the only existing city wall in China and it is so much fun to take a ride on the walls during wintertime with its gorgeous clear views.
38B Keji Road