Leifeng pagoda (雷峰塔) is a five storey tall pagoda with eight sides, which was built in 975 and situated on Sunset Hill south of West Lake in Hangzhou. Dating back to North Song Dynasty, the King of Wuyue Kingdom ordered to build the pagoda in order to celebrate the birth of a son by his favorite concubines. The pagoda collapsed in 1924 but was reconstructed in 2002 and became a popular travel destination after then.
Long time ago, the pagoda was called Huangfei Pagoda and known as the Brick Pagoda of West Gate owing to it was situated outside the west gate of the city. With years pass by, all those names have been abandoned only Leifeng Pagoda still in use today. Leifeng pagoda is surrounded by the West Lake and it is exactly famous by a fairy tale.
Long before, there was a white snake called Bai SuZhen descended to the world to marry a human called Xu Xian. The couple loved each other deeply and lived a very happy life. However, a monk called Fa Hai accused Bai Suzhen break ethic and try to make her die. In order to set the couple apart and let them no chance to meet, Fa Hai forced Bai SuZhen stay in the Leifeng Tower.
The body of the pagoda was made of brick, but the eaves, balconies, inside landings and balustrades were made of wood. Stones with the Huayan Scriptures inscribed on them were inlaid on the inner walls of the pagoda. There used to be sixteen sculptures of vajra arhats at the foot of the pagoda, but they were later moved to Jingci Temple.
Walk through a heavy old door, visitors arrive at the bottom of the new Leifeng pagoda where is the ancient site of Leifeng pagoda. The ancient site is covered by glass in order to protect oxidation and man-made sabotage but visitors still can see it from outside. Taday, the brick of the old Leifeng pagoda is still carefully wrapped up.
Lu Xun (1881--1936), one of the most prestigious figures in contemporary Chinese literature, wrote an article declaring the collapse of the Leifeng Pagoda was a major blow to the feudalistic social order that had ruled China for thousands of years. The article was later included in a textbook for Chinese students.
Originally of Buddhist architecture, the Leifeng Pagoda was said to have once housed the hair and skeletal remains of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. In March of 2001, a number of ancient Buddhist relics were unearthed from the underground chamber of the pagoda.
In October 1999, a special committee was organized to study academic papers and correlated materials to prepare for reconstruction of the tower. After careful study, the committee chose to set up a steel structure similar to the old tower over at the original site of pagoda. The new one is designed to be a five-storied pavilion inlaid with brick and upturned eaves.