Leifeng Pagoda is located on the shores of the southeast side of the lake and originally built in the year 977. All that remains of the original pagoda is the crumbling foundation, viewable from outside the glass case that it is housed in (Pagoda Remains Memorial Museum at the bottom floor of the pagoda). With escalators, elevators, and a totally new pagoda places on top of the foundation, there is not much to see within the pagoda itself; it was most recently rebuilt in 2000.
A moving love story is contained in the Leifeng Pagoda history. The story tells of a young scholar who falls in love with a beautiful woman, unaware that she is a white snake who has taken on human form. A monk intervenes in order to save the scholar’s soul and casts the white snake into a deep well at the Leifeng Pagoda. Over centuries the story has evolved from horror story to romance with the scholar and the white snake-woman genuinely in love with one another, but such a relationship is forbidden by the laws of Heaven. The legend was existed as oral traditions long before any written compilation. It has since become a major subject of several Chinese opera, films and TV series.
However, the view of the city skyline is one of the best from Leifeng Pagoda, and some of the smaller seating areas around the perimeter of the pagoda have a nice breeze and view of the structure. One of the 10 Scenes of the West Lake is “Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow”, but this is best viewed from a distance (across the lake) just after sunset.