Monday, September 22, 2008

Leifeng Pagoda

Leifeng Pagoda is currently a five story tall tower which has eight sides and is located on Sunset Hill along the south route of the West Lake in Hangzhou which was originally constructed in the year AD 975. It has been a popular tourist attraction since being rebuilt in 2002.

History of the pagoda

The original pagoda was built in 975 AD, during Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, at the order of King Qian Chu of Wuyue. It was built to celebrate the birth of Qian Chu's son, born to Huang Fei, one of his favorite concubines. The Leifeng Pagoda was an octagonal, five-storeyed structure built of brick and wood and with a base built out of bricks.

During the Ming dynasty, attacked Hangzhou. Suspecting it contained weapons, they burned its wooden elements, leaving only the brick skeleton, as can be seen from Ming paintings of the West Lake.

Later, due to a superstition that bricks from the tower could repel illness or prevent miscarriage, many people stole bricks from the tower to grind into powder. On the afternoon of September 25 1924, the pagoda finally collapsed due to disrepair.

Construction of the original

Leifeng Pagoda was originally an octagonal, five-storied tower of brick and wood.

As for whether there was a mausoleum below, this was debated for years until finally radar was used to investigate. On March 11 2001 the mausoleum was excavated and many treasures were found, most notably a gold and silver coated hair of the Buddha.


In October 1999, the provincial and municipal governments complied with the aspirations of the general public decided to rebuild Leifeng Pagoda anew to enhance the scenery of the lake. The body of the pagoda was be based on a steel structure and copper parts which was made up of 1400 tonnes of steel and 200 tonnes of copper.
On 25 October 2002, the rebuilt Leifeng Pagoda opened, built above the ruins of the old one and with documents and exhibits on show for visitors. The current structure contains four sightseeing elevators, and modern features including air conditioners, televisions and speakers. At the entrance of the pagoda there are two autonomous elevators to carry visitors to the foot of the pagoda. The original base of the pagoda is kept in good condition as well as the treasures discovered in a undergroud chamber.

In Culture

Leifeng Pagoda was one of the ten sights of the West Lake because of the .

One Day Trip

This was the last stop in Hangzhou on August 13. You can see this building in the distance in some of the West Lake pictures. Lei Feng means "Thunder Peak", and Pagoda refers to the style of building.

The story about this particular Pagoda has to do with Bai Su-Zheng. She was a White Snake, the most elegant and beautiful of all snakes. One day she was visiting Hangzhou with her sister, the Green Snake, and they used their magical powers to disguise themselves as beautiful women. It began raining heavily, and the man Xu Xian offered them his umbrella, not knowing that they were supernatural. Immediately, Bai Su-Zheng and Xu Xian fell in love; soon after they were married, and Bai Su-Zheng even became pregnant. She never told Xu Xian about her true self.

But the monk Fa Hai warned Xu Xian that his wife was a snake, and he suggested that Xu Xian give his wife a special wine to drink at the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival. When she drank the wine, Bai Su-Zheng returned to her white snake form and Xu Xian was literally scared to death. Bai Su-Zheng was so upset that she risked her own life to go to Kunlun mountain and steal a special herb that would bring Xu Xian back from the dead. Unfortunately she was caught, but the Guard was so moved by her bravery and love that he gave her the herb anyway and she brought Xu Xian back to life.

However, when he awoke Xu Xian was still frightened and fled. To keep him separated from his wife, Fai Hai confined Xu Xian to the Temple and forced him to become a monk. Bai Su-Zheng begged Fa Hai to release Xu Xian, but he refused. Bai Su-Zheng brought war on Fa Hai. In the end, she ultimately lost the battle and returned to Hangzhou in defeat. Little did they all know that during the fighting Xu Xian was secretly released by a young monk. He happened to return to the same place in Hangzhou, where he had first met his wife. They were reunited and they lived happily. Bai Su-Zheng had a baby boy.

But Fa Hai wouldn't give up so easily and he went to heaven to enlist the aid of a powerful fighter with a magic lantern. One day Xu Xian went to buy a hat for his son, but the hat was actually the lantern, which caused Bai Su-Zheng to come under the spell of the fighter. He imprisoned her under the Lei Feng Pagoda where she remained for many years. In the meantime, the Green Snake practiced her magic. Finally she was strong enough to defeat Fa Hai, destroy the Lei Feng Pagoda, and release White Snake who immediately rejoined her husband and son. They lived happily ever after.

This site was rebuilt recently by the government and is quite up-to-date. Notice the escalator outside.



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