The Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, also known as the Sakyamuni Pagoda of Fogong Temple, is a remarkable architectural masterpiece located in Ying County, Shanxi Province, China. Built in 1056 during the Liao Dynasty, this towering pagoda stands at a height of 67 meters (220 feet) and is considered the oldest and tallest wooden pagoda in China. What makes this pagoda unique is that it was constructed without the use of nails or metal fasteners, relying solely on its wooden components and intricate interlocking design. The pagoda’s nine stories each showcase distinctive shapes and designs, featuring over 80,000 colorful glazed tiles that create a vibrant and stunning exterior. With its rich history, cultural significance, and impressive construction, the Yingxian Wooden Pagoda is a must-visit attraction for any traveler interested in ancient Chinese architecture and engineering.
- Location: In Fogong Temple, Yingxian County, Shuozhou City, Shanxi Province, China. About 85 km (53 miles) south of Datong City.
- Opening time: 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.
- Ticket price: CNY 50 per person.
- Time Needed: 2 hours.
- Best time to visit: May to October
- Suited to: Architecture enthusiasts, history and culture lovers, and photographers.
What to See and Do in Yingxian Wooden Pagoda
Some unique experiences to enjoy while visiting the Yingxian Wooden Pagoda include:
1. Admiring its intricate design and construction
The pagoda boasts an octagonal shape with nine stories, though only five are visible from the outside. The entire structure was built without using nails or metal, relying on a sophisticated system of brackets, beams, and crossbars.
2. Exploring the interior of the pagoda
Visitors can explore the interior of the pagoda, climbing up a spiral staircase to see the vivid and lifelike statues of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats made from various materials.
3. Visit the Fogong Temple complex
The pagoda is part of the Fogong Temple complex, which features several halls containing Buddhist relics, paintings, and scriptures.
4. Learn about the history and culture of the pagoda
History enthusiasts can learn about the pagoda’s rich history, dating back to its construction in 1056 by Emperor Daozong of the Liao dynasty, who built the pagoda to honor his Buddhist grandmother and demonstrate his political power and religious faith. The pagoda has undergone several renovations and repairs over the centuries and is now a national cultural heritage site and a popular tourist destination.
Best Time to Visit Yingxian Wooden Pagoda
The Yingxian Wooden Pagoda is best visited between May and October when the weather is mild and the surrounding scenery is picturesque.
Shuozhou experiences a temperate continental climate with four distinct seasons, low rainfall, a short summer, and a long, freezing winter from November to March.
In the spring and autumn months, the weather is moderate with low rainfall and clear skies. Visitors can witness the beautiful peach blossoms in the spring and golden foliage in the autumn. During the summer, the weather is cool and relatively wet, with occasional rainstorms. Travelers can explore the natural beauty of nearby attractions such as Mount Heng and Hukou Waterfall.
Attractions nearby Yingxian Wooden Pagoda
- Hanging Temple: A Buddhist temple built on a cliff face 75 meters above the ground, combining elements of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
- Mount Heng: A sacred Taoist mountain with temples, pagodas, bridges, waterfalls, and forests. Enjoy panoramic views from the summit.
- Hukou Waterfall: The largest waterfall on the Yellow River, located at the border of Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces. Witness the spectacular sight of roaring water plunging down from a narrow opening.
- Yungang Grottoes: A UNESCO World Heritage Site showcasing splendid Buddhist cave art from the 5th to 6th century. It has 252 caves and more than 51,000 statues.
- Nine-Dragon Screen Wall: The largest dragon screen wall in China, built during the Ming dynasty. It is 45.5 meters long and 8 meters high, depicting nine dragons playing with pearls among clouds and waves.