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Five-Pagoda Temple

The Five-Pagoda Temple is situated at Xizhimen Wai in Haidian District of Beijing. Its original name was the Temple of True Awakening (Zhen Jue Temple), which changed to the Temple of Great Righteous Awakening (Da Zhengjue Temple) after renovation in 1761. Today, however, it is popularly referred to as the Five-Pagoda Temple because there are five pagodas in the temple.

The structure of the Five Pagodas is known in Buddhist terminology as the diamond throne pagoda style, wherein five small pagodas stand on a large square foundation known as the throne. This architectural form was introduced to China by an Indian monk around the year of 1413, and the Temple of True Awakening was constructed here in 1473. The entire temple complex, including numerous wooden buildings, was renovated and renovated in 1761, but in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) it was looted and burned to the ground, first by the Anglo-French Allied Armies in 1860, then again by the Eight-Power Allied Forces in 1900. Today, the only extant relic is the monumental diamond throne pagoda. Altogether, China only has six diamond throne pagodas nationwide, of which three are located in Beijing, namely, the Five-Pagoda Temple, the Temple of Azure Clouds and the Yellow Temple; and of the other three, one is in Hohhot in Inner Mongolia, one is the Miaolian Temple in Kunming City of Yunnan Province and the last one, the Guanghui Temple in Zhengding County of Hebei Province. Among all the six, the Five-Pagoda Temple in Beijing is the most beautiful one.

The pagoda is composed of the throne foundation and the stone pagoda. The throne foundation made of bricks and white marbles is 7.7 meters high and has six tiers. The five pagodas rise from their rectangular bases on top of this foundation, one in each of the four corners and the fifth in the center. The central pagoda, totaling 8 meter, is slightly higher than the others, with 13 eaves, two more than those in the corners. A door at the foot of the foundation on each of the southern and northern sides opens into an inner spiral 44-step stairway that leads to the top of the foundation. The five pagodas are carved with images of Buddha in five directions, as well as those of horses, lions, elephants, peacocks and the gold-winged birds that served as the steeds of Buddha. Carvings in Sanskrit and in Tibetan provide priceless research materials of the ancient Indian language and Buddhist scriptures. The central pagoda is also carved with a pair of footprints of Buddha.

All parts of the diamond throne pagoda in the Five-Pagoda Temple are symmetrically proportioned, giving viewers an impression of being stable and unshakable.

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