A pagoda is a tiered tower with multiple eaves, built in traditions originating in historic South Asia and further developed in East Asia or with respect to those traditions, common to Nepal, India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Burma, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia. Some pagodas are used as Taoist houses of worship. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most commonly Buddhist, and were often located in or near viharas. In some countries, the term may refer to other religious structures. In Vietnam and Cambodia, due to French translation, the English term Pagoda is a more generic term referring to a place of worship, although pagoda is not an accurate word to describe a Buddhist vihara. The modern pagoda is an evolution of the Ancient Nepal stupa, a tomb-like structure where sacred relics could be kept safe and venerated. The architectural structure of the stupa has spread across Asia, taking on many diverse forms as details specific to different regions are incorporated into the overall design.
The origin of the pagoda can be traced to the stupa (3rd century BCE). The stupa, a dome shaped monument, was used as a commemorative monument associated with storing sacred relics. The stupa emerged as a distinctive style of Newari architecture of Nepal and was adopted in Southeast and East Asia. Nepali architect Araniko visited China and shared his skills to build stupa buildings in China, where the buildings became prominent as Buddhist monuments used for enshrining sacred relics. In East Asia, the architecture of Chinese towers and Chinese pavilions blended into pagoda architecture, eventually also spreading to Southeast Asia. The pagoda's original purpose was to house relics and sacred writings. This purpose was popularized due to the efforts of Buddhist missionaries, pilgrims, rulers, and ordinary devotees to seek out, distribute, and extol Buddhist relics.
Source: Pagoda from Wikipedia
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