An ancient underground
palace was uncovered yesterday morning on top of Leifeng Mountain
near the West Lake in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's
The underground palace lies about 2.6
meters below the foundation of Leifeng Pagoda. A stone tablet
covering the entrance of the underground palace was exposed
after a huge stone weighing more than 750 kg was lifted away.
Once the tablet was removed, the shaft-like
underground palace was revealed. A Buddhist statue, several
bronze mirrors, dozens of coins, a rusty iron case believed
to contain Buddhist relics and other items of historical and
cultural value were found at the initial uncovering of the
"According to an inscription on
a stone tablet uncovered early this year, the iron case in
the underground palace contains the hair of Sakyamuni, the
founder of Buddhism," said Cao Jinyan, director of the
Cultural Relics Archaeological Study Institute of Zhejiang
The excavation of the underground palace
was conducted by an archaeological team under the institute.
Leifeng Pagoda was first completed in
AD 976 during the early Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).
During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Leifeng Pagoda was left
Local people then began to take bricks
from the pagoda as it was believed they would bring luck and
great fortune to those who owned a piece of the pagoda. However,
they hardly reached the underground palace.
After centuries of neglect, the pagoda
collapsed on September 25, 1924. Hangzhou municipal government
decided to restore the pagoda in October 1999 following decades
of debate about the future of the site.
A restoration plan proposed by Guo Daiheng,
an architect from Tsinghua University, was approved.
(China Daily 03/12/2001)