May 1, 2007—It seems that the world's most populous country isn't a place to think small.
Yesterday hundreds of Buddhist monks gathered in Changzhou, China, to celebrate the opening of what local officials say is the world's tallest pagoda. The towering structure stands nearly 505 feet (154 meters) tall—reaching 50 feet (15 meters) higher than Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza.
The wooden tower was recently added to the ancient Tianning Temple, a Buddhist complex dating back to China's Tang Dynasty, which lasted from A.D. 618 to 907. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt in the same spot five times.
"From the olden days, whenever there is a temple, there has to be a pagoda. For Tianning temple, it had a pagoda in the past, but it was destroyed," said Kuo Hui, the temple's deputy abbot, as reported by China's state-run Xinhua news agency.
"For us we decided to rebuild this pagoda so as to inherit the fine traditions of Buddhism and to honor Buddha."
The massive pagoda is seen by some as a symbol of Buddhist revitalization in the country. Today about a hundred million of China's 1.3 billion people are Buddhist (related photos: Buddhism in the West).
The tower's construction, which was sanctioned by the local government and funded through donations, cost more than a hundred million yuan—about 13 million U.S. dollars. The pagoda is outfitted with bronze roof tiles, jade blocks, and a gleaming gold spire.
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