The Qixia Temple Dagoba sits in Qixia Town, 22 kilometers northwest of Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province.
The dagoba stands to the right of Dafu Pavilion in the Qixia Temple at the western foot of Qixia Mountain. The Qixia Temple one of the most famous old temples in southern China. It was built in 489 and expanded in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). As the biggest temple in the south, the Qixia Temple was listed as one of the four Buddhist monasteries along with the Lingyan Temple in Linqing, Shandong Province; the Yuquan Temple in Jingzhou, Hubei Province; and the Guoqing Temple in Tiantai, Zhejiang Province. It regained its name in 1392 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The temple was burnt down during Emperor Xianfeng's reign and most of the present wooden structures were restored during and after the reign of Emperor Guangxu.
Statues from the Northern (386-581) and Southern (420-589) Dynasties and stone tablets from the Tang Dynasty are kept in the temple with the famous dagoba of the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Built in 601, the original dagoba was destroyed and restored during the Five Dynasties (907-960) and Tang periods. The present dagoba was erected in the Southern Tang Dynasty (937-975).
The Asoka-style dagoba has multi-layered eaves and five stories. At a height of 15 meters, the octagonal dagoba's all eight sides at the base are embossed with Sakyamuni figures that recount his life story, including his incarnation, birth, journeys, how he became a monk, practicing Buddhism, expounding Buddhist doctrine, subduing monsters, and Nirvana. The dagoba base is surrounded by simple railings adorned with waves and various fish patterns. Each side (expect the central door) is carved with figures of four gods -- Manjusri and Samantabhadra Bodhisattvas. Apart from the first floor, which has high ceilings, the other floors gradually diminish in height. Two niches are carved on every floor containing a Buddha statue inside. The dagoba's body is engraved with figures of the flying Apsaras and attendants similar to the ones found in the Dunhuang Grotto. The Qixia Temple Pagoda is a representative work of stone carvings from the Tang and Song (960-1279) Dynasties.