EXTRA: Wooden Tower, Yingxian, Datong, Shanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on January 19, 2015.)

The impressive Wooden Tower (木塔) in Yingxian (应县), Datong,
Shanxi (山西, 大同市), is said to be the world's largest such structure.

August 23, 2012 - It was surprisingly easy to go from Datong to the Hanging Temple--but surprisingly hard to leave there.

Refusing to pay the gouging prices of private drivers, I had just started walking the five kilometers or so back to the nearest bus depot when a highway bus picked me up. It ejected me at the depot, where I was ushered onto a beautiful highway bus--which then kicked me out just a couple of kilometers down the road and placed me into a rickety minibus full of smokers! Forty-five minutes later or so, I was unceremoniously dumped on the main street of Yingxian, just a few hundred meters from the Wooden Pagoda.

It was worth the hassle. The pagoda of the former Fogong Temple (which is rising again around it) is so famous that it's seldom called by the temple's name. It's just "Mu Ta"--the Wooden Pagoda. Built in 1056 when the Liao Dynasty dominated the area, it stands 67.31 meters (220.83 feet) tall, including its base and spire. It is the oldest wooden pagoda in China, and one of the tallest entirely wooden ancient structures in the world. Emperor Daozong of the Liao built it at the remote site of his grandmother's family home.

Inside the huge structure, a large statue of the historical Buddha is seated facing south. Although staircases climb the pagoda's interior, it was under repair the day I visited, so I was unable to see the reportedly unexcelled views from its upper windows.

During previous repairs, in 1974, numerous Buddhist scrolls were found, some over a thousand years old. Some of these are on display in a museum on the grounds.

GPS Info:
  • 39.56753, 113.19071


(Regarding problems with this map, please see the CHINA section on this page.)


More pictures can be found here.

A gateway leads from Yingxian's main street to the Wooden Pagoda

A statue of Guanyin in front of the Pagoda

The Wooden Pagoda of Yingxian

A large statue of a Buddha sits inside the Pagoda

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