Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple
About 1.5 kilometers northwest of Dali Old Town, the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple is an important historical and cultural heritage of Dali and Yunnan. Tourists can easily get there by taxi. The meaning of Chongsheng is to worship goddess of mercy. Because Chongsheng Temple was first built in Nanzhao Kingdom when Buddhism began to flourish in Dali. Until Dali Kingdom period, Buddhism reached its heyday. At that time, Dali Kingdom was famous as ‘the Kingdom of Buddhism’ because nine of 22 kings abdicated and became abbots in Chongsheng Temple. It seems so amazing!
Moreover, Chongsheng Temple was expanded and became the largest Buddhist temple in southeast Asia and a center for Buddist cultural exchange. Unfortunately, experiencing wars and earthquakes, Chongsheng Temple was destroyed and only the Three Pagodas remained. The temple we see nowadays was reconstructed in 2005. So, don’t worry. You can still appreciate the original and historical ancient Buddhist buildings.
The three pagodas include three parts: Qianqun Pagoda, the North Pagoda and the South Pagoda. Standing in the center is the Qianqun Pagoda. It is a brick, hollow, 16 stories, closed eaved pagoda. It has about 69 meters in height. In Chinese, ‘Xun’ is a unit to measure length. ‘Qianxun’ is an exaggeration for the astonishing height. Maybe you think it’s not so tall building compared to modern building. However, building such a tall building in ancient time is a hard work.
You may wonder how Three Pagodas can withstand the test of more than 30 strong earthquakes? Three Pagodas have small base and top. This kind of streamline design can weaken the effect of wind force and maintain the stability. Except for this reason, the construction method is also attributed to the stability of the pagodas.
In addition, the Three Pagodas are quite unique. Different from inland odd-numbered pagodas, they are even-numbered. And like I said before, they have small base and top, which is not similar to tapered like inland pagodas.
Inside the pagoda, tourists can appreciate the Picture Record of Nanzhao Kingdom and Buddhist Picture Scroll Painting. All these relics witness the prosperity of ancient Dali and the wisdom of ancient Dali people.