The restoration of the Leifeng Pagoda, one of the most famous ancient architectural structures in China, was completed on Friday in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, in eastern China.
A ceremony was held to mark the occasion by the provincial government and the municipal government of Hangzhou, a city known for its scenic West Lake, one of the major tourism attractions in east China.
Construction of the pagoda began in 972 and was completed four years later.
In 1924, the pagoda collapsed due to long-term neglect and due to damage inflicted by superstitious residents who removed bricks from the base in the hopes that they would protect their children from devils.
The pagoda,s history has been recorded in a well-known Chinese legend, the "White Snake".
In 1999, the local government launched the pagoda,s restoration project.
The rebuilding of the pagoda signifies the restoration of one of the "Five Beauties" of West Lake, according to local tourism experts.
However, the newly-restored "Leifeng Pagoda" is completely different from the old one, from the inside out. Its structure was built with 1,400 tons of steel and 280 tons of copper.
In addition, four elevators permit visitors to climb to the topin seconds.
The original pagoda was built in 975 AD, during Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, at the order of King Qian Chu (born Qian Hongchu) of Wuyue. It was built to celebrate the birth of Qian Chu,s son, born to his Huang Fei. The Leifeng Pagoda was an octagonal, five-story structure built of brick and wood and with a base built out of bricks.
During the Ming dynasty, Japanese pirates attacked Hangzhou. Suspecting the pagoda contained weapons, they burned its wooden elements, leaving only the brick skeleton, as can be seen from Ming paintings of the West Lake.
Leifeng Pagoda was one of the ten sights of the West Lake because of the Legend of the White Snake.
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.
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 decided to rebuild Leifeng Pagoda over the ruins of the old one. The new pagoda opened on 25 October 2002. It is composed of a 1400 tonne steel structure with 200 tonnes of copper parts. It 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 pagoda,s foot.
The original base of the pagoda is kept in good condition as well as the treasures discovered in an underground chamber.