All the King's horses & all the King's men....(Xi'an-China)

As our flight landed at the Xinguan airport, I was excited; I was visiting one of China’s major tourist attractions, Xi’an (Shee-Ann), the city of the Terracotta Warriors And Horses. Along with all other fascinating sites of the city that included towers, temples, pagodas, museums and even mountains, we were to experience the World’s greatest historical find, also known to the rest of the world as Bingmayong, the army of Terracotta Warriors and Horses.

 As suggested by our guide, we had to reach early, basically to avoid the crowd. Our car dropped us off in the parking lot; we could either walk up to the museum’s entrance or buy a round trip ticket for a trolley. We chose to walk on the cobbled pathway flanked by lush green trees. Less than a mile and we reached the entrance.

As our guide narrated the history behind this find, I kept wondering who decided to call the three divisions of the museum as Pit 1, 2 & 3…that was so rude and unlike China, always so prim and proper and showcasing the best. As we entered the first pit little did I imagine what treasure lay inside. There was a huge area, very spacious, airy and properly lit with white halogen lights. It was divided into a number of passageways and on those stood more than a thousand clay figures of the infantry, ready for the war. The warriors and the horses, guarding the tomb of Emperor Qin shi Huang. It took me a few moments to recover from the excitement of seeing these. The figures, all around 1.8m tall, were originally painted with bright colors but were faded now. Each body part is sculpted separately so that those could be interchanged. The faces were hand molded and carried the different distinctive features of the people from various parts of this vast nation. It was mind blowing! We watched all these from a level that was little high up from the pit as visitors are no longer allowed to go near the warriors and touch those. Those who wanted to pose for photographs with the warriors could go to the room where some warriors and chariots were on display and could click their snapshot as desired.

Unlike the first one, the 2nd pit was dark and deeper and had a very complex layout. The most extraordinary find from this pit was the kneeling archer which had been carefully removed and kept in a glass showcase. There were few more of these figures that have been excavated quite intact and were thus displayed. There are four sections in this pit, each adorned by cavalrymen, chariots or crossbowmen. We could actually see the pits that were covered with wooden pillars, then covered with layers of fiber mats and lastly filled up by fine soil…..totally magnificent.

Fortunately, photography is permitted and I realized that I was admiring the warriors more through my lens than only eyes. So I decided to shut off the camera for a while and just enjoy the wonders.

The last one, pit 3 was a smaller one and a combination of the first two and with figures that were in better condition that the previous ones. It is considered to be the headquarter as warriors, chariots and even horses were discovered here. There were a few headless figures too which our guide explained was due to some vandalism. But the overall set up was just awesome.

Out of the museum scenario, a little away from that area is a community center that had nice restaurants that served authentic Shaanxi cuisine, shops that sold models of warriors and the chariots and vendors who sat with armors to let visitors wear those and take a photo. Excavation work is still on, in and around the museum and the world waits eagerly to know how a strong clay army of almost 6000 warriors lay underground protecting the king in his afterlife.