Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Leifeng Pagoda and Jingci Temple in Hangzhou

The original Leifeng Pagoda was built in 975 AD on the southwestern shore of West Lake to celebrate the birth of King Qian Chu's son.  During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Japanese pirates burned the pagoda, leaving the brick skeleton.  Later, a superstition spread that the bricks of the pagoda could prevent illness and miscarriage, leading to the theft of bricks to grind them into powder.  In 1924, the pagoda finally collapsed and the current five-story tower with eight sides was rebuilt in 2002.

The pagoda is a major tourist site, with great views of the lake and the city and readily accessible by roads that support large tourist buses.

 Entrance to the pagoda, tourist density alert

Heading up the steps to the pagoda, the views get more and more impressive as the structure dominates the surroundings and grows larger as I approach.

Up the steps to the Leifeng Pagoda

Entering the pagoda, there is a display of the remaining foundation and bricks of the original pagoda (the ones that weren't ground up for medicine).

 Remnants of the original pagoda

 Today, elevator or stairs (I take the stairs) head up to allow exploration of the levels.

Modern access (not available in original 975 AD building)

At each level, there are displays inside showing the history of the pagoda and the region and balconies outside to admire the views that grow larger and more expansive as I continue up.

 Displays and exhibits at each level inside the pagoda

 Views from the balconies outside

At the top of the pagoda, in addition great scenes of West Lake and Hangzhou, I get a view of the Jingci Temple across the street.  I start down the inside stairs, experiencing the beautiful sights, both inside and outside, at each level and, at the bottom, head across the street.

Jingci Temple across the street

Jingci Temple was built in 954 by King Qian Chu (who also built the Leifeng Temple) for a famous monk, Yongming Yanshou.  Built and destroyed several times, the current temple compound was finished in the 1980s.  Wandering through the buildings, I view statues of Buddha and other important figures of the time.

 Temple statues

The buildings in the compound are beautiful and offer views of the Leifeng Pagoda and of West Lake.

 Inside the temple complex

 Views of Leifeng Pagoda across the street

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