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Five Pagoda Temple
2006-03-07 11:55:36

Five Pagoda Temple lies north of Beijing Zoo in the Haidian District of Beijing. Locals call this Five-Pagoda Temple because of the five pagodas erected here. Its real name is the True Awakening Temple ( Zhenjue Si).


Zhenjue Si
(Photo by LCD from

The Five Pagoda Temple is an Indian-style temple and was first constructed in 1473. It is a copy of the Gaya Temple in India. It was said that an accomplished Indian monk came to China at that time and presented to the emperor five figures of gold Buddhas and the draft of a Varja pagoda. In the Ming Dynasty, a Varja pagoda was built according to the monk's plans.

The temple has had a tumultuous history - it underwent major renovations in 1761, but was looted and burned to the ground, first by the Anglo-French Allied Armies in 1860 and then by the Allied Forces in 1900. After being partially rebuilt, it was forced to close again during the Cultural Revolution but has since been restored and re-opened. The temple was looted and burned to the ground twice.

The temple no longer has monks and now is used as Beijing Art Museum of Stone Carvings which preserves more than 2000 pieces of work for the tourists to see.


The workers who built the pagoda did not follow the plans (drafts) accurately. Here in the Temple, the tourists can enjoy a special architectural style, both of the Indian pagoda and Chinese traditional ancient architecture. Also the tourists can enjoy the engraved features of Four Heavenly Kings, lions, Arhats, horses and other animal figures.

The square throne foundation is 17 meters (55ft) high and the five pagodas rise from this base. The five Pagodas standing side by side on a base, the central pagoda has seven stories, while the rest on the four corners are all five-stories. The entire structure is made of white marble, that after more than 500 years of oxidation, give the building a pale orange cast. The 4 walls of the foundation are carved with rows of Buddhas (the One Thousand Sagacious Buddhas) as well as bas-reliefs of Buddhist symbols, floral designs and Sankskrit letters. The 5 pagodas are also covered with similar carvings on a lesser scale.

There are two tall maidenhair trees more than 500 years ago around the pagoda . With the trees, the Temple appears to be very solemn and respectful.

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