This page last updated 05/16/10

The Jingtu Pagoda

Jingtu Pagota = jìngtǔ sìtǎ = 净土寺塔 Say "jeeng-too sih-tah"

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.

Tourist Notes

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 塔tǎ) 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

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


Gaoyou CWI

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Copyright 2009 - Charles Day