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Tianning Temple and Pagoda Changzhou - Tallest Pagoda in the World

Updated on April 3, 2011

Tianning Pagoda

Tianning Pagoda
Tianning Pagoda

Tallest Buddhist Pagoda

The thousand-year-old ancient Tianning temple is located in Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. This temple is very famous for its giant modern Buddhist pagoda, the Tianning Pagoda. The Tianning pagoda is also believed to be the tallest pagoda in the world. Standing 153.79 meters, this 13 storeys Buddhist pagoda is about 41 m taller than the Shwedagon Paya in Burma and also 7.2 m closer to the heavens than the Khufu Pyramid in Egypt.

Opening Ceremony

Tianning Temple
Tianning Temple
Tianning Buddhist Pagoda in the day and at night
Tianning Buddhist Pagoda in the day and at night


The construction began in April 2002 with the cost about US$38.5 million (300 million yuan) and it was completed on 30 April 2007. Hundreds of Buddhist monks gathered for the opening ceremony for the new structure which occupies about 27,000 square metres. Very tough wood from Papua New Guinea and Burma was used in this construction, while 75 tons of gold and brass went into the top of the building.

This wooden pagoda is now the world’s tallest Buddhist pagoda as well as the tallest wooden structure on earth. An enormous bell made of bronze weighing 30,000 kg graces its 13th floor and it can be heard from a distance of 5 km. Building of the pagoda was proposed in 2001 by the Buddhist Association of China and leaders of 108 Buddhist associations and temples worldwide had attended for the temple’s opening ceremony.

However, the lower levels of the pagoda caught fire on 25 May 2006 but no permanent damage was done. Tianning Temple, being one of the four largest Buddhist temples, dates from the prosperous Tang Dynasty (initially build during the Yonghui period). It actually has been destroyed and rebuild 5 times due to wars and natural disasters. Today, this historical site is one of the top tourist attractions in Changzhou.

Feng Shui Pagoda

Halls and Buddha Sculptures

The Tianning Temple’s main buildings include 8 halls, 24 towers, 25 halls, 3 rooms and 2 pavilions. Of all the halls, the halls of the Heavenly King Palace, the Arhat Hall and the Precious Hall of the Great Hero are real stand outs with their artistic splendour and decor.

The largest Buddhist hall in the whole temple is The Precious Hall of the Great Hero. There you can see three sculptures of Buddhas (popularly called Three World Buddha), Shakyamuni Buddha in the center, Amitabha Buddha from the West Pure Land and Medicine Buddha Bhaishajyaguru from the East Land. In the Arhat hall, you can see 500 Arhats that are lifelike with grand golden bodies and varied expressions.

Strolling through the temple, you will come across more than 100 large beautiful sculptures of Buddhas depicted in varying positions. A 70-year-old master Songchun, the current abbot of Tianning Temple has long cherished the desire to rebuild the pagoda and he has spent more than a decade raising the funds.


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