The Pagoda of Six harmonies or Liuhe Pagoda is a Buddhist temple that was built on the side of the Qiantang River over a thousand years ago for tide control. After the West Lake, the Pagoda of Six Harmonies is Hangzhou’s most well known travel destination.
The original pagoda was built in 970 during the Song Dynasty (960-1127) by Qian Hongchu, the King of the Wuyue kingdom, to control the tide water from the Qiantang River. At that time the river kept breaching Hangzhou’s dykes and causing considerable turmoil. The pagoda was also used as a light house to help with navigation on the river.
The pagoda was destroyed in 1121 during a rebellion when Fang La led an uprising against the Song Dynasty. The pagoda was later restored in 1163 during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) by a Buddhist Monk Zhitan who spent over 10 years begging for alms to cover the costs of the restoration. The pagoda’s spire was installed during the Yuan Dynasty (1260-1368). Since that time only minor changes were made to the eaves, making the Pagoda of Six Harmonies the best preserved brick and wood pagoda in China.
The nearby Kaihua Temple was built at the same time as the Pagoda of Six Harmonies. The temple was expanded during the Song Dynasty to have more than 100 rooms and enclosed the pagoda. The temple was also destroyed in 1121 and restored by Monk Zhitan in 1163.
Pagoda Structure and Temple Grounds
The pagoda has 13 stories on the outside, only 7 stories on the inside and has a height of 59.89 meters. The pagoda itself is made with a brick core and wooden exterior corridors and wall panelling. The stairs leading up to the top of the pagoda are narrow and tricky if you have big feet like me.
Personally I could not find anything really impressive about the inside of the pagoda. You climb it because its there and to enjoy the superb view at the top of the Qiantang river and surrounding hills.
Apart from the pagoda, the temple grounds also hold the Liuhe Bell, the Goldfish Garden and the Liuhe Garden.
Liuhe Bell – This bronze bell was rung in ancient times to drive out the God of Tides and to pray for calm waters. In modern times locals ring the bell during Lunar New Year to pray for blessings. The bell itself weighs 2.3 tons and is 225 meters tall.
Goldfish Garden – A small garden with a pond full of goldfish located to the north west of the pagoda. The garden contains a small pagoda and a fierce guardian.
Liuhe Garden – The garden is one of the best parts of the whole attraction, are extensive (more like a park or forest) and run from the rear of the pagoda to the top of a steep hill behind the pagoda. The garden has many paths not shown on any of the tourist maps or mentioned in travel literature, is covered in models of ancient Chinese pagodas and is great for walking. I was in the garden walking the paths and admiring the models for over an hour.
The pagoda is roughly a 15 minute bike ride from the southern end of the West Lake and biking is the best way to get there. Alternative you can take buses K504, K4,8, 354, 808 and tourist bus 5. There is the Liu He Ta bus station right out side the entrance of the pagoda and one of Hangzhou’s largest bike rental stations.
Tickets, hours and time needed
Entry into the temple grounds a is 20rmb and there is an additional fee of 10rmb to climb the pagoda.
Both the pagoda and grounds are open from 6:30am to 5:30pm. If you want to enjoy both the pagoda and temple grounds, plan to be there for at least 2 hours.