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Pagoda of Six Harmonies

Standing by the Qiantang River in Hangzhou, the Pagoda of Six Harmonies was first constructed in 970 during the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) by Qian Hongchu, King of the Wuyue State, who ruled the area of today's Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces. The purpose of building the pagoda was to suppress the tidewaters. It had nine storeys and was some 150 meters high. At night lanterns were lit on the pagoda so that ships and boats on the Qiantang River could use it as a navigation tower.

The pagoda suffered repeated damages over about a thousand years. It was almost completely destroyed by war in 1121. Reconstruction started in 1153 and was completed in 1163. The height of the pagoda was reduced after reconstruction because there were only seven storeys left of the original nine. Major repairs were made again in 1524 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and in 1735 and 1900 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), but these repairs were on the outside eaves only. The brick body of the pagoda remained the same as in the Song Dynasty. Today some Song Dynasty inscriptions can still be found inside the pagoda.

The extant pagoda is octagonal, with thirteen levels on the exterior but seven levels on the interior. It stands 59.89 meters high, and is one of the tallest pagodas in southern China. The pagoda can be divided into four parts from the exterior to the interior, namely, the outer wall, the zigzag corridor, the inside wall and the little chamber. The corridor in-between connects the exterior with the interior; the winding staircases, linking the corridor parts, lead to the top level. The exterior wall, with a thickness of 4.12 meters, has doors in the four sides. On the two side walls of the entrance connecting the exterior with the interior, there are engraved shrines. The four sides of the interior wall, with a thickness of 4.2 meters, also have doors. In the center of the pagoda is the little chamber which was originally used to place Buddhist Statues. Each storey has a square room, with ceiling supported by brackets.

In the pagoda there are more than two hundred sites of brick carvings, which feature a wide range of motifs, including megranate, lotus, phoenix, peacock, parrot, lion, kylin and so on. These brick carvings are rare material proofs of Chinese ancient architectures.

The Six Harmonies Pagoda, as a state-level cultural site, has been under the state protection since 1961. It is one of the famous scenic spots in Hangzhou City. Commanding a spectacular view of the surging Qiantang River, the pagoda presents a quiet image of age-old majesty. Looking out from the top of the pagoda, sightseers can see as far as the misty horizon, enjoying the unforgettable, breathtaking scenery.

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