Since the pagoda is inside Bao'en Temple in the north of the old town of Suzhou, it was also known as Beisi (North Temple) Pagoda. It is said to have first been constructed during the Three Kingdoms period by the order of Sun Quan, the king of Wu, who prayed for the happiness of his mother. The extant pagoda was constructed between 1131 and 1162 during the Southern Song Dynasty.
The octagonal, nine-storey pagoda, 76 meters high, was built of brick and wood. The base and outside walls were made of brick, and the foundation and balustrades were made of stone. Each storey has encircling eaves, balconies and banisters, all made of wood. The balconies are supported by brackets. The eaves around the first storey of the pagoda project quite extensively over the corridor below. Since each storey is smaller than the one below, the whole structure, with its upturned eaves, is an elegant, narrow, pyramidal shape. Inside the pagoda staircases reach the upper levees. The interior of each storey is spacious. The steeple, standing lofty and graceful on top of the pagoda, is made of metal. To make the steeple strong and stable, the huge spike in the middle was firmly panted through the eighth and ninth levels of the pagoda. During repairs in 1960 and 1975 some valuable items, including a copper turtle, a statue of Buddha and some Buddhist relics, were found inside the steeple.