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Haibao Pagoda in Yinchuan

Located about 1.5 kilometers northwest of downtown Yinchuan in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the Haibao Pagoda Temple is one of the major Buddhist temples opened to public in China. And, the pagoda in the temple is the most ancient Buddhist architecture in Ningxia, and is among the first group of national key cultural relics sites.

The Haibao Pagoda Temple was called the Haibao Buddha Hall in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and early Republic of China. Surrounded by exuberant poplars, willows and other trees, the temple has a quiet surrounding. It is said that there was a lake here long ago and the Haibao Pagoda was situated on an island in the lake. Bulrushes grew thickly in the lake and a lot of fish stayed in the water. Every March 4 of the lunar year, people got out of the city and crossed the lake by boat to attend the annual temple fair.

The topping Haibao Pagoda in the temple is the mainstay architecture. The pagoda was originally called the Black Pagoda. It is also known the North Pagoda. Nothing is known about its construction time, but it was rebuilt during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. It is a brick pagoda modeled on multi-storeyed counterparts. The existing pagoda has nine storeys -- eleven storeys if the base and pedestal are included, and is 53.9 meters high. The pagoda is built on a square brick base, each side measuring 19.7 meters long and 5.7 meters high. Its ground ichnography is cress-shaped, which is rare in multi-storeyed pagodas. The first storey has a portico and an arched door. Inside is an arhat niche flanked by brick steps leading to the top of the pagoda. Arched doors on the front of each storey are flanked by false niches. The interior of the pagoda is also cross-shaped and in the center of each floor is a square chamber. The pagoda tapers by fifteen to twenty centimeters from one storey to the next. The steeple of the Haibao Pagoda is different from that of other pagodas. It is peach-shaped and built of green glazed bricks.

The Haibao Pagoda was ruined several times in earthquakes and underwent several repairs. The present 11-storey pagoda was the result of reconstruction during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. After reconstruction, it had two fewer storeys than the original one and the brick steps inside it were changed into wooden steps, which spiral upwards to the top. On the top of the pagoda, visitors will have a good view of Yinchuan City.

In the past 20 years, the Chinese government invested heavily to repair the Haibao Pagoda and the temple, added a bell tower, a drum tower, wing-rooms and a greenhouse, expanded and repainted the bounding wall, constructed a road to the scenic spot and set up an administrative unit here. The Haibao Pagoda Temple has become an important scenic spot with its entirely new appearance.

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