The 30-meter (98 ft) high Jingtu Pagoda is a prominent feature of
the Gaoyou skyline, one that you can easily see from the upper
floors of the RunYangCun Hotel. The Pagoda, built in AD 1612 during
the Ming Dynasty, is located south of the downtown area just
south-west of the intersection of Wenyouzhong Lu and Pipa Lu, in the
center of large field.
In 1963, Zhu Guang Rong, a Gaoyou High School student, and some
schoolmates, climbed up to the top of the tower. The cultural relics
they found there, included 40 volumes of scriptures dating back to the
Ming Dynasty, are now preserved in the Nanjing Museum.
When I first visited Gaoyou in April 2005, the pagoda appeared
neglected, and slowly weathering away. Its sides were pockmarked, and a tree
was growing out the top. There wasn’t even a fence protecting it. I was
happy to see, in the fall of 2006, that the Pagoda has been thoroughly
renovated, and restored, with a very nice plaza surrounding the base. At
that time it was not open to the public, since they local government was
still looking for funds to make the rest of the site accessible to
visitors. I hope that the tower will be open to visitors soon.
Origins of the Pagoda
The tower-like Pagodas (塔tǎ
or宝塔baǒtǎ) were built by Buddhists as part of a temple compound. The
characters used in the names of the Gaoyou Pagodas, (寺sì
translate as “temple tower”. The function of the pagoda was to store
Buddhist manuscripts and other sacred objects. The architecture of
the Chinese pagoda is derived from the stupas that Buddhists in
India also used to store sacred objects. The design has changed with
influences from the traditional Chinese pavilion and towers. The
term “pagoda” is often misused to describe a pavilion, which may
appear similar but is not part of a Buddhist temple.
There are thousands of pagodas in China, although the decline of Buddhism
has left many in poor repair. Many pagodas were built of wood, but
few of those survive. Most of the remaining pagodas are built of
stone or brick, like the pagodas at Gaoyou.
Resources for “The Jingtu Temple Pagoda”
A book available for purchase at the China Post office in Gaoyou,
Gaoyou - A Famous Historical and Cultural City
Author and publisher unknown.
The Jingtu Temple Pagoda page on the website www.gaoyou.com
A page with information on several Gaoyou sites on the website
(12/05 Note: The Gaoyou Government website has changes since this
page was written and this link is no longer valid. A new link will
be posted here when, and if the replacement page is found)
Resource for “Origin of the Pagoda”
Dorothy Perkins, Encyclopedia of China (Checkmark
Books, 2000) Pg 375-376