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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
China temple opens tallest pagoda
The tip of the Tianning Pagoda in China
The pagoda is taller than the Egyptian pyramids at Giza
Hundreds of Buddhist monks have gathered in Changzhou, eastern China, for the inauguration of what officials say is the world's tallest pagoda.

The 154m-high (510ft) Tianning Pagoda consists of 13 wooden storeys topped by a soaring golden pinnacle.

Artistic touches include a bronze-tiled roof and jade decorations. An enormous bronze bell that sits at the top can be heard some 5km (3 miles) away.

The temple complex dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD).

It has been destroyed and rebuilt five times over the last 1,350 years, China's Xinhua news agency said.

"From the olden days, whenever there is a temple, there has to be a pagoda. For Tianning temple, it had a pagoda in the past, but it was destroyed," said Reverend Kuo Hui, the temple's deputy abbot.

"For us we decided to rebuild this pagoda so as to inherit the fine traditions of Buddhism and to honour Buddha," he said.

Religious revival

Rebuilding the pagoda took five years and cost around 300m yuan ($39m, 19.5m), Xinhua said.

Crowds of orange-robed monks and devotees attended a ceremony to mark the opening of the pagoda.

More than 100 heads of Buddhist associations and temples in China and around the world attended the ceremony, the Reuters news agency reported.

Religion has been enjoying a resurgence in China in recent years as Communist Party controls over it have relaxed.

A survey in February 2007 by a Shanghai university suggested that 300 million Chinese people followed a religion.

Of those, around two-thirds considered themselves Buddhist or Taoist, an ancient Chinese faith, the survey found.

Buddhist monks attend the inauguration of the pagoda

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