History and background
The pagoda was originally constructed by the ruler of the Wuyue State, some of which would later makeup Zhejiang province. The name 'Liuhe' comes from the six Buddhist ordinances and it is said that the reason for building the pagoda was to calm the tidal bore of the Qiantang River and as a navigational aid. However, the pagoda was completely destroyed during warfare in the year 1121.
After the current pagoda was constructed of wood and brick during the Southern Song Dynasty, additional exterior eaves were added during the and Dynasties . The pagoda is octagonal in shape and some 59.89 meters in height, it also has the appearance of being a thirteen-story structure, though it only has seven interior stories. There is a spiral staircase leading to the top floor and upon each of the seven ceilings are carved and painted figures including animals, flowers, birds and characters. Each story of the pagoda consists of four elements, the exterior walls, a zigzagged corridor, the interior walls and a small chamber. Viewed from outside, the pagoda appears to be layered-bright on the upper surface and dark underneath. That is a harmonious alternation of light and shade.
According to historian Joseph Needham, the pagoda also served as a lighthouse along the Qiantang River. Being of considerable size and stature, it actually served as a permanent lighthouse from nearly its beginning, to aid sailors in seeking anchorage for their ships at night .