Hangzhou’s most well known attraction has to be West Lake. Everyone who visits Hangzhou will definitely pay this beautiful fresh water lake a visit. Apart from the lake, there are quite a few sights worth visiting on the lake itself such as Lei Feng Pagoda (雷锋塔).
Lei Feng Pagoda was originally built by Qian Hongchu, the last king of the Wuyue kingdom to celebrate the birth of a son by one of his favourite concubines. The 5 storey octagonal pagoda suffered damage from war and marauding pirates and eventually collapsed in 1924. For more than 70 years, it remained a ruin until it was rebuilt in 2002.
In the debris of the fallen pagoda, Buddhist scriptures, ancient Buddhist relics and even hair of the Buddha were found. The hair is now housed in a temple in the grounds of the pagoda where Buddhists come to worship.
On the fifth floor tower, the story of Buddha is depicted through intricate wood carvings.
The pagoda also offers a good view of the lake from the fifth floor but, unfortunately, the day was hazy when we were there.
Lei Feng Pagoda is also popular due to its association with the story of Legend of the White Snake (白蛇传). Legend has it that a young scholar, Xu Xian (许仙) fell in love with Bai Suzhen (白素贞), a white snake who has taken a human form. A monk who wanted to save his soul imprisoned the white snake under the pagoda.
The story is illustrated through intricately carved wood panels on the first floor.
The best time to visit the pagoda is in the evening when one can appreciate the view of the pagoda from across the lake.
We missed the Lei Feng Pagoda in Evening Glow (雷峰夕照), one of the ten scenic views of West Lake but we managed to catch it glowing at night, mirroring into the lake.