Leifeng Pagoda used to stand on the slopes of Nanping Mountain on the southern bank of West Lake in Hangzhou.
The pagoda was constructed in 975 by the king of Wuyue, Qian Hongchu, to celebrate the birth of a son by one of his favorite concubines--Huangfei. It was therefore called Huangfei Pagoda at that time. Since the pagoda was located outside the west gate of the city, it was also known as the Brick Pagoda of West Gate. All those names, however, have been forgotten over the years; only the name Leifeng Pagoda has been passed on from generation to generation.
Leifeng Pagoda was an octagonal, five-storeyed structure built of brick and wood. The body of the pagoda was made of brick, but the eaves, balconies, inside landings and balustrades were made of wood. Stones with the Huayan Scriptures inscribed on them were inlaid on the inner walls of the pagoda. There used to be sixteen sculptures of vajra arhats at the foot of the pagoda, but they were later moved to Jingci Temple.
Compared to other Pagodas, Leifeng Pagoda had a saddest history. During the Yuan Dynasty it was a magnificent building "of ten thousand chi" standing "aloft as if in midair." It suffered a most severe disaster during the Ming Dynasty. During the Jiaqing years (1522-66) Japanese invaders set fire to the pagoda and burned the coves, balconies, balustrades and steeple to ashes, leaving only a brick skeleton. Later some superstitious and ignorant people often took bricks from the pagoda in the belief that the abrasive powder of the bricks was a magic remedy that could cure all diseases and keep a foetus from aborting. Others stole Buddhist scriptures from the pagoda in order to make money. Finally, in August 1924 the foot of the pagoda was dug hollow and other parts of the pagoda were so severely damaged that the ancient pagoda suddenly collapsed.
In the debris of the fallen pagoda some Buddhist scriptures were found in a brick hole. At the beginning of the scriptures it was written that the pagoda was constructed by the king of Wuyue, Qian Hongchu, and that total of 84,000 volumes of Buddhist scriptures had been stored in the pagoda. It was dated 975, the last year of the state of Wuyue.