What is Pagoda?
A Pagoda is an Asian temple which is usually a pyramidal tower or cone-shaped structure (multi-storied tower-like structure) with an upward curving roof made of bricks, stone, or wood. It is built in traditions originating as stupa near Viharas to honour Gautam Buddha.
Origin of Pagoda
The origin of Pagoda can be traced back to India or we can say the place where Buddhism was evolved. According to the Buddhist literature, pagodas were built for the purpose of preserving the remains of Shakyamuni. In Sanskrit, pagoda means ‘tomb or burial place’.
According to the historians, the structure was built from the 3rd century BC as a commemorative monument that was used for the safe keeping of religious relics. It was also used as worship place and storehouses for sacred relics such as Buddhist scriptures and statues of Buddha.
In East Asia, this commemorative monument drives inspiration from the structure of Chinese pavilions and towers. In modern world, the structures of the pagodas are modified version of stupas which were previously tomb-like structures.
Features of the Pagoda
It was used as the safe house for the Buddhist scriptures and statues of Buddha. Therefore, the stone containers are built from the gold, stone, silver and jade (semiprecious gemstone that takes a high polish). It is usually composed of a frame, rafters, sheathing, eaves and roof. There are four major components of the pagoda which are discussed below:
1. Underground Palace- It is also known as dragon palace or the dragon cave.
2. Base- The base of the pagoda is built above the underground palace that as the support structure of the entire monument. Most of the pagodas has comparatively low bases such as four-Door Pagoda of Licheng which was built by the Sui Dynasty.
3. Body-It is made of bricks or wood or a combination of both.
4. Steeple- It is highest part of the pagodas but the structure may vary from one pagoda to the other because of the adopted architecture. For Example- It is either cone-shaped or ball-shaped.
Incredible Pagodas around the world
1. Xumi Pagoda- It is also known as Summer Pagoda. It was built during the reign of the Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty in 636 AD. It is 157 feet (48 m) high.
2. Mireuksa pagoda- It is considered as the largest Buddhist temple of the Korean Peninsula. It was built by King Mu in 602 AD.
3. Tran Quoc Pagoda- It is located in Hanoi, Vietnam and built during the reign of Emperor Ly Nam De between 544 and 548 AD.
4. Yellow Crane Pagoda- It is built on the hilltop of the Snake Hill near Wuhan, China.
5. Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Giant Wild Goose Pagoda)- It is located in Shanxi province, China and built during the period of Tang Dynasty in 704 AD.
6. Toji Pagoda- It was built in 826 AD by the Kobo Daishi. It is tallest temple in Japan.
7. Taoist Temple- It is located in Beverly Hills Subdivision of Cebu City, Philippines. It was built in 1972 by the Chinese community of Philippines. This temple is considered as the centre of worship for Taoism in Philippines.