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Western Xia Imperial Tombs

Introducing Western Xia Imperial Tombs (from UNESCO &
Western Xia Imperial Tombs are the royal mausoleums of the emperors in the Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227). Located at the eastern slope of the Helan Mountains, western suburb about 35km away from Yinchuan City in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the Tombs are the best-preserved historic cultural heritage representing the Tangut civilization at the largest scale and in the highest rank. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Tombs are connected with the Helan Mountains in the west and with the Yinchuan Plain and the Yellow River in the east. They are situated in a spacious land higher in the west than the east. Occupying an area of some 50 square kilometers, the Western Xia Imperial Tombs include 9 imperial mausoleums, 254 subordinate tombs, 1 site of large architectural complex and more than 10 brick-and-tile kiln sites. The imperial mausoleums are lined up along the eastern slope of the Helan Mountains from north to south. The whole grand burial complex extends like a long and narrow south-north ribbon. Set in the vast Gobi desert in front of the rolling Helan Mountains, the Tombs narrates the unique historical atmosphere and ethnic features of the Western Xia Dynasty by the magnificent layout, tiered tomb walls, high towers and various mausoleum buildings. Many unearthed funerary objects and the remaining cultural relics such as inscriptions, stone statues and building components take on vivid shapes, unique ornamentations, and living nomadic features.

Western Xia Imperial Tombs Fast Facts
• Chinese Name: Xi Xia Wang Ling 西夏王陵
• Best Time to Visit: April to October
• Recommended Visiting Hours: 3 hours
• Things to Do: Photography, Western Xia Culture & History, Archeology
• Opening Hours: 08:00-18:30 from Apr to Oct; 08:00-17:00 from Nov to Mar
• Entrance Fee: CNY 75
• Address: Xixia District, Yinchuan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region

What to expect at Western Xia Imperial Tombs

The Western Xia Tombs were originally created by the founder of the Western Xia Kingdom (1038-1237 AD), Li Yuanhao, who built over 70 tombs, one for himself, a number for his relatives and more to be left empty, presumably against theft. Each main tomb has four corner towers, and an array of watchtowers, pavilions housing stone tablets, a sacrificial hall and a coffin platform, although most of these buildings are well beyond recognizable. Archaeologists believe that octagonal glazed-tile pagodas once stood by each tomb. In the war against the ancient Mongolian army from 1220 to 1227, Western Xia Kingdom failed and the imperial tombs were damaged. Today's visitors to the sites can only find piles of relics.




Excavation has been completed on one main tomb and on four of the annexes. The main tomb is believed to be that of Li Yuanhao, and all the tombs have a stairway or sloping path down to their coffin pits. In the wake of the poor maintenance and heavy erosion, most of the buildings are now fairly dilapidated, made from crumbling brown earth and scattered across the plain. Fortunately, building materials, broken stone tablets, towers, glazed tiles, walls and steles with inscriptions of Western Xia or Han characters still remain, and provide visitors with interesting information on the Western Xia. Lots of treasures, arts and sculptures were unearthed from Li Yuanhao's mausoleum and are on display in the Western Xia Museum, which is located near the entrance of Li's tomb. Other cultural artifacts and relics related with ancient Western Xia were also collected from across China and exhibited here.



The main attraction nearby is the Gunzhong Pass (Gunzhong kou), which is a part of the Helan mountain range. This is a perfect area for hiking and admiring the scenery of one of China's least-travelled provinces. Gunzhong literally translates as "rolling bell," and the pass was so named because it resembles a lying bell, with the bell mouth opened to the east, and the mountains forming the bell surface in the other three points of the compass. This is one of Helan mountain's most famous sights, about 35 kilometers northwest of Yinchuan. Also the famous Xibu Yingshicheng (Western Film and Television City) is five kilometers north of the tomb area. Many Chinese films were shot there.

How to get to Western Xia Imperial Tombs
• There are two buses from Yinchuan Beimen Bus Station to the scenic area, departing at 8:30 and 9:30.
• Take bus No. 708 to Xi Xia Ling Station, and then walk about around 2 km to the scenic area.
• Rent a car/bus from GGC to enjoy a hassle free private transfer from hotels in Yinchuan to Western Xia Imperial Tombs.

Additional travel advice on Western Xia Imperial Tombs
• Please wear comfortable walking shoes.
• It is not recommended to visit the scenic area in rainy days.

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