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China’s tourists cover famous Buddhist pagoda in graffiti

A pagoda built to replace an historic 1,300 year-old building in northern China has been left covered in visitors’ graffiti since reopening to the public about a decade ago, mainland media reports.

Even the Buddhist paintings covering the walls inside Haifeng Pagoda, in Dajue Temple, in Shandong province have not escaped the attention of visitors’ handwriting, the news portal Qq.com reported.

Tourists have written all over the artwork while leaving messages to their relatives or lovers.

The original 13-storey pagoda stood 36 metres high when it was first built about 1,300 years ago during the Tang dynasty (618-907) – a period when Buddhism had spread across the country.

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However, the building had to be demolished in 1957 when the structure became unsafe and officials believed there was a risk of it collapsing.

A new pagoda was built on a different site, about 50 metres from the original location, in 1991. Its height was also increased to 42 metres, although the number of floors of the pagoda remained unchanged.

The new pagoda was later refurbished and reopened to the public in 2007.

Some of the walls inside the rebuilt pagoda feature drawings left by tourists of heart shapes and the names of two lovers inside.

Many other tourists have written notes wishing their relatives or friends good health and happiness in the future.

Chinese tourists carving out a bad reputation abroad

Others have simply written their names followed by the words “… was here”.

The writing of graffiti at tourism attractions has become a common example of bad behaviour by mainland tourists.

Three years ago graffiti left by a middle school pupil from Nanjing attracted international headlines after he wrote ““Ding Jinhao was here” on a wall at a 3,500-year-old Egyptian temple.