Liuhe Pagoda

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Liùhé Tǎ (六和塔), or "Six Harmonies Pagoda," stands south of West Lake, aside the Qiantang River. The 60 m (196 ft) tall pagoda was built during the Song Dynasty in part to gain the favor and assistance of Heaven in warding off floods and in moderating the Qiantang River's unique tidal bore, when a massive wall of water rushes upstream under optimal lunar conditions. The Qiantang tidal bore is the world's largest, rising up to 9 meters (30 ft) and attaining speeds up to 40 km per hour (25 mph). If you happen to be in Hangzhou during the autumn equinox and Mid-Autumn Festival the temple is a popular spot from which to witness this rare phenomenon. Otherwise, the bore occurs twice monthly at the time of the highest tides. Divinely assisted flood control aside (or Dragon King control, as popular lore would have it), the pagoda has traditionally served as a lighthouse for sailors. Destroyed during fighting in 1121 AD, it was rebuilt in subsequent years.

Situated on the top of the modest rise known locally as Yuelun Hill (Yuèlún Shān, 月轮山), the octagonal structure appears to have 13 floors from the outside, thanks to multiple sets of false eaves, but inside only has seven stories connected by a spiral staircase. Interior walls and ceilings are decorated with images of landscape scenes and creatures, both natural and supernatural. The adjacent terraced park, dotted with small shrines and statues, makes for pleasurable strolling, and the pagoda itself affords excellent views on clear days, especially during periods of heavy rains when nearby waterfalls empty into the Qiantang.

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