The mysterious 108 towers along the Yellow River, built in the Western Xia Dynasty, why they were built is a mystery!146steemCreated with Sketch.

in #tower2 months ago

There are countless ancient pagodas on the Chinese landscape, but there are not too many that can be called pagoda groups. Some people list the Shaolin Temple Pagoda Group in Songshan, Henan Province (241 pagodas), the Lingyan Temple Pagoda Group in Changqing, Shandong Province (167 pagodas) and the Lama Pagoda Group in Wuzhong, Ningxia Province (108 pagodas) as the three largest pagoda groups in China, probably in terms of number, age, shape, geographical environment and uniqueness.
When you come to Wuzhong Qingtongxia in Ningxia, you can't miss the 108 pagodas, which are located right by the Yellow River and are built-in steps by cutting stones with the mountain, with a total of twelve stepped platforms, increasing in height layer by layer from the bottom up, arranged in twelve rows according to the odd numbers of 1, 3, 3, 5, 5, 7, 9 ------, forming a huge group of pagodas with a triangular overall plan, with a total of 108 pagodas.
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The 108 pagodas of Ningxia are built according to the mountain, with their backs to the mountain and faces to the Yellow River, like a pyramid of ancient pagodas.
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Formed horizontally in rows and vertically in columns, the vast majority of the towers are similar in shape, a scene that is simply a boon to the OCD sufferer.
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The 108 towers of Ningxia Wuzhong have now become a fee-paying scenic spot, with an entrance fee of 30 yuan, which isn't too expensive. As for transport, it's best to drive or charter a car.
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The 108 Pagoda is the third batch of national key cultural relics protection units announced in 1988, and the most famous historical monument in Wuzhong Qingtongxia.
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As you enter the scenic area, there are several modern buildings on the hillside and at the foot of the mountain, including temples, Taoist temples and the Pagoda Forest Expo, etc. The pagoda complex is about 300 metres from the gate, which is not very far.
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If you have time, you can take your time, but if you are in a hurry, you can go straight to the pagoda complex, which is the focus of the whole area.
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Many people will wonder when the pagoda complex was built. It is impossible to verify the exact chronology, but with the remains and relics from the Western Xia and Mongolian Yuan periods found inside and outside the 108 pagoda complex, the historical records are basically confirmed.
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It is certain that the 108 pagodas were built in the Western Xia Dynasty and flourished during the Mongolian and Yuan Dynasties, which is why they were called 'ancient pagodas' in the Ming Dynasty. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was a centre of Buddhist monastic architecture where incense flourished.
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During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the pagoda was rebuilt with bricks and stones to protect this sacred site, making it a wonderful place to visit and a religious destination until modern times.
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Why the 108 pagodas were built, no one can say for sure. Some say it was built to commemorate Mu Guiying's death in battle; others say it was erected by the local people to commemorate the 108 soldiers who died in battle here; others say it was a pagoda for the ashes of 108 monks, while others say it was built to honour the one hundred and eight Dharma bodies of the Vajra Sutra. It doesn't matter who built them, it's the preservation of them that counts.
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When you climb the pagoda group, you can see the Yellow River and the mountains from afar. The landscape of the northwest is completely different from that of the south, and the feeling of the magnificent, pale, long river setting into the sun comes alive.
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In fact, there were originally more than 108 pagodas here. On the river bank by the Yellow River, there were also two small mantle pagodas, pagoda No.1 located about 20 metres south-east below the pagoda group and pagoda No.2 located in the middle of the group, about 15 metres from the pagoda group.
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In 1958, when the Qingtongxia Reservoir was being built, the two pagodas and the ruins of an ancient temple were demolished in consideration of the fact that the construction of the dam would flood the riverbank under the pagoda group, and all 108 lama pagodas were to be relocated at that time.
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At the time, two silk paintings of the Thousand Buddhas, each in a scroll, were unearthed at the base of Tower 2, 20cm above ground level, sandwiched between wheat straw and the remains of some Buddhist sutras, so the overall relocation plan was abandoned, probably in view of the cost and expense of moving them.
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It is for this reason that the 108 pagodas have remained in situ for nearly a thousand years.
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The structure of the 108 pagodas is essentially the same, with a wooden column in the centre, followed by adobe masonry and stucco, and when they were restored, the adobe pagodas were covered with bricks and painted with mud and powder. But as the wind and rain washed away, the pagodas seen today are only clad in brick.
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Although the structure is the same, there are some differences in appearance. The first layer of the 108 pagodas has only one pagoda, and all the 19 pagodas on the twelfth layer, totalling 20 pagodas, have a cross-folded base and a mantle-shaped body; all the 23 pagodas on the second to sixth layers have an octagonal, girdled Sumerian base and a gourd-shaped body.
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All nine pagodas on the seventh floor have octagonal bases and cylindrical bodies; all 56 pagodas on the eighth to eleventh floors have octagonal bases and folding bodies. As a visitor, however, you can't really tell much difference.
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As well as the ancient pagodas, there are some newly built temples next to them, and many golden statues of Buddha.
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There is also a golden Thousand-Handed Goddess of Mercy standing beneath the mountains, which looks out of place in its surroundings anyway, so take a look if you have time, but don't worry if you are in a hurry.
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But what many people may not know is that there is an even older historical site beneath the 108 pagodas, the Tanglei Canal water diversion.
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This ancient water project was dug in the Han Dynasty and re-dredged in the Tang Dynasty and played a huge role in the agricultural production of Xixia. The original diversion of the ancient canal was under the 108 Pagoda, but after the Qingtongxia Barrage Dam was built, it was changed to divert water under the dam. If the construction of the 108 Pagoda was a spiritual need, then the construction of the Tang lei Canal was a real and material need.
When you come to Ningxia, apart from eating beach goats and drinking eight-pot tea, it is also essential to learn about the history of the Western Xia, a dynasty founded by the Dangxian people in northwest China, which lasted 189 years through ten emperors and was essentially alongside the Northern Song, Liao and Jin dynasties. Over the millennia, the Dangxian people have long been integrated into the bloodline of the Chinese nation, and the cultural heritage left behind by Western Xia still records the glory of the Dangxian people. Most of these remains are located around Ningxia and Gansu, and famous ones include the Western Xia Mausoleum, the 108 Pagodas of Qingtongxia and the Zhangye Reclining Buddha Temple.

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