Yingxian Wooden Pagoda (Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple) is sited in Yingxian County,
Datong, Shanxi Province, China. It is a wooden Chinese pagoda built in 1056, during the Khitan-led Liao Dynasty. This Pagoda is regarded as one of the three pagodas in the World, together with the Eiffel Tower in France and Pisa Leaning Tower of in Italy. Built in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty, this wooden pagoda has a history of over 1000 years, being the oldest and highest existing wooden pagoda in China and around the world. It is built on a four-meter-high groundwork with a total height of 67.31 meters, and a diameter of 30.27 meters at the bottom. It is recorded that it has survived seven earthquakes in the history, especially a great earthquake happened in the Yuan Dynasty (1328 A.D.) that lasted for seven days, which testifies its rational use of components and fine construction.
From the outside, it appears to have only five stories, though it actually has nine in the interior, including four built-in storeys. And its complex system of supports includes 54 kinds of brackets. Frescoes on the ground floor and a gilded statue of Sakyamuni date from the Liao Dynasty. During a 1974 renovation, engraved sutras and documents related to the construction of the pagoda were discovered inside one of the statues of Buddha. Unfortunately, visitors are now only allowed to climb to the second level of this delicate structure.
The pagoda takes the shape of an octagon in the plane with nine stories and six eaves and is proped by two circles of columns. The pagoda is a double-barrel wooden structure constructed with tenon-and-mortise work. It is composed of three parts: pagoda base, the mainbody and Tasha. The pagoda’s multi-storey and tenon-and-mortise structure have given it the kind of stability resembling those in modern buildings. It wood texture is very soft, which won’t easily twist under outside pressure. The many layers also reinforce the pagoda. That is one of reasons the pagoda stands in this place for so many years.
Many wood pagodas in China were destroyed by lightening. Since a 14 meters tall iron decoration on top of the pagoda connected by eight iron chains to the ground works very much like a modern lightning rod, the wood pagoda did not suffer any damage from lightening.
In 2013, the pagoda was placed on China’s tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage Site consideration, along with the Fengguo Temple.
【Chinese name】: 应县木塔
【Recommended time to stay】: 2 hours
【How to get there from Datong】: take express buses from Datong New South Bus Station to get to Yingxian directly. There are many buses leaving for Yingxian every day.