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Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple

The Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple are famous in China for their size, beauty, and antiquity, and for their preservation. The central one is more than 1,100 years old and is one of the tallest pagodas ever built in China. These pagodas are situated between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake, about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 of a mile) northwest from the ancient city of Dali, so a walk to the temple would be a good excursion.

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Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple Overview of Chongsheng Temple

The main pagoda looks like a typical Tang Dynasty pagoda, and it is said that architects from Xian which was the capital of the Tang dynasty designed this building. To the east of it stands a stone wall which is engraved with the words "govern the mountains and rivers forever." In 1978, during repairs more than 600 artifacts and documents including sculptures made of gold, silver, wood or crystal were found. Coins, a bronze mirror, porcelain, articles used in Buddhist ritual, musical instruments, gold and silver articles, and matrices for printing Buddhist scriptures in Sanskrit have been discovered in the building or underneath it. It is interesting that in 1979 three copper plates were found that stated that the pagoda was repaired in 1000, 1142 and 1145.

The other two pagodas were built about 100 years later. It is thought that they were built by rulers of the Dali Kingdom that succeeded the Nanzhao Kingdom. The smaller pagodas' architectural style is more similar to that of Song Dynasty pagodas. They each have ten stories, are slimmer, and are about 42 meters high or about 140 feet tall. The pagodas are empty from the first floor to the eighth floor and have supporting girders inside. The two smaller pagodas stand about 97 meters away from each other. One of them is interesting because it leans like the Tower of Pisa in Italy.

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