(according to some, a corruption of the Sanscrit word bhagavata, from bhagavat, sacred; but according to others a corruption of put-gada, from the Persian put, idol, and gada, house) is the name of certain Hindu temples, which are among the. most remarkable monuments of Hindi architecture. Though the word itself designates but the temple where the deity — especially Siva, and his consort Durga or Parvati — was worshipped, a pagoda is in reality an aggregate of various monuments, which in their totality constitute the holy place sacred to the god. Sanctuaries, porches, colonnades, gateways, walls, tanks, etc., are generally combined for this purpose, according to a plan which is more or less uniform. Several series of walls form an enclosure; between them are alleys, habitations for the priests, etc., and the interior is occupied by the temple itself, with buildings for the pilgrims tanks, porticos, and open colonnades. The walls have at their openings gopuras, or large pyramidal gateways, higher than themselves, and so constructed that the gopura of the outer wall is always higher than that of the succeeding inner wall, the pagoda itself being smaller than the smallest gopura. The extent of the enclosing walls is generally considerable; in most instances they consist of hewn stones of colossal dimensions. placed upon one another without mortar or cement, but with such admirable accuracy that: their joints are scarcely visible. The gateways are pyramidal buildings of the most elaborate workmanship; they consist of several, sometimes as many as fifteen stories. The pagodas themselves, too, are of a pyramidal shape, various layers of stones having been piled upon one another iii successive recession; in some pagodas, however, the pyramidal form begins only with the higher stories, the broad basis extending to about a third of the height of the whole building. The sides of the different terraces are vertical; but the transition from one to the other is effected by a vault surmounted by a series of small cupolas, which hide the vault itself. A single cupola, hewn out of the stone, and surmounted by a globe, generally crowns the whole structure; but sometimes the latter also ends in fantastical spires of a fan- like shape or in concave roofs. The pagodas are covered all over with the richest ornamentation. The pilasters and columns, which take a prominent rank in the ornamental portion of these temples, show the greatest variety of forms; some pagodas are also overlaid with strips of copper, having the appearance of gold. There are pagodas of all sizes in India. Some of them have been erected by wealthy Hindus for the purpose of performing their private devotions in them, and correspond in character to the Western chapels. In the case of the large pagodas, vast endowments in many instances are expended in their support, as well as for the idols they contain and the Brahmins that attend them.
"The most celebrated pagodas on the mainland of India are those of Mathura, Trichinopoli, Chalambron, Konjeveram, Jaggernaut, and Deogur, near Ellora. That of Mathura consists of four stories, and is about 63 feet high; its base comprises about 40 square feet, Its first story is made of hewn stones, heavily adorned with copper and gilt; the others are of brick. A great number of figures, especially representing deities, tigers, and elephants, cover the building. The pagoda of Tanjore is the most beautiful monument of this kind in the south of India; its height is 200 feet, and the width of its basis is equal to two thirds of its height. The pagoda of Trichinopoli is erected on a hill elevated about 300 feet over the plain; it differs in style from other pagodas dedicated to Brahminical worship, and exhibits great similarity with the Buddhistic monuments of Tibet. The great pagoda of Chalambron, in Tanjore, is one of the most celebrated and one of the most sacred of India. It is dedicated to Siva and Parvati, and is filled with representations belonging to the mythical history of these gods. The buildings of which this pagoda is composed cover an oblong square 360 feet long and 210 feet wide. At Konjeveram there are two pagodas —the one dedicated to Siva, and the other to Parvati. The pagodas of Jaggernaut, on the north end of the coast of Coromandel, are three; they are erected likewise in honor of Siva; and surrounded by a wall of black stones — whence they are called by Europeans the Black Pagodas — measuring 1122 feet in length, 696 feet in width, and 24 feet in height. The height of the principal of these three pagodas is said to be 344 feet; according to some, however, it does not exceed 120 to 123 feet. The pagoda of Deogur, near Ellora, consists also of three pagodas, sacred to Siva; they have no sculptures, however, except a trident, the weapon of Siva,' which is visible on the top of one of these temples. The monuments of Mavalipura, on the coast of Coromandel, are generally called the Seven Pagodas; but as these monuments — which are rather a whole city than merely temples — are buildings cut out of the living rock, they belong more properly to the cut-rock monuments of India than to the special class of Indian, architecture comprised under the term pagoda." "The pagodas in Burmah," says Mr. Boardman, "are the most prominent and expensive of all the sacred buildings. They are solid structures, built of brick, and plastered. Some of them are gilt throughout, whence they are called golden pagodas. The largest pagoda in Tavoy is about fifty feet in diameter, and perhaps one hundred and fifty feet high. That which is most frequented is not so large. It stands on a base somewhat elevated above the adjacent surface, and is surrounded by a row of more than forty small pagodas, about six feet high, standing on the same elevated base. In various niches round the central image are small alabaster images. Both the central and the surrounding pagodas are gilt from the summit to the base, and each one is surrounded with an umbrella of iron, which is also gilt. Attached to the umbrella of the central pagoda is a row of small bells or jingles, which, when there is even a slight breeze, keep a continual chiming. A low wall surrounds the small pagodas, outside of which are temples, pagodas of various sizes, and other appendages of pagoda worship, sacred trees or thrones, sacred bells to be rung by worshippers, and various figures of fabulous things, creatures, and persons mentioned in the Burman sacred books. Around these is a high wall, within which no devout worshipper presumes to tread without putting off his shoes. It is considered holy ground. Outside this wall are perhaps twenty Zayats, and a kyung. The whole occupies about an acre of ground. The total number of pagodas in Tavoy is immense. Large and small, they probably exceed a thousand. Before leaving America, I used to pray that pagodas might be converted into Christian churches. But I did not know that they were solid monuments of brick or stone, without any cavity or internal apartments. They can become Christian churches only by being demolished and built anew." The Dagong pagoda at Rangoon is the most magnificent in Burmah. A description of it is given by Mrs. Judson. See her Memoir and the Christian Offering
The mode of worship in these heathen temples is as follows: When a Hindui comes to a pagoda to worship, he walks round the building as often as he pleases, keeping the right hand towards it; he then enters the vestibule, and if there be a bell in it, as is usually the case, he strikes upon it two or three times. He then advances to the threshold of the shrine, presents his offering to the Brahmin in attendance, mutters inaudibly a short prayer, accompanied with prostration of the body, or simply with the act of lifting his hands to his forehead, and straightway retires. The ceremonies observed by the Hindus in building a pagoda are curious. They first enclose the ground on which the pagoda is to be built, and allow the grass to grow on it. When the grass has grown considerably, they turn an ash-colored cow into the enclosure to roam at pleasure. Next day they examine carefully where the cow, which they reckon a sacred animal, has condescended to rest its body, and having dug a deep pit on that consecrated spot, they place there a marble pillar, so that it may rise a considerable distance. above the ground. On this pillar they place the image of the god to whom the pagoda is to be consecrated. The pagoda is then built quite around the pit in which the pillar is placed. The place in which the image stands is dark, but lights are kept burning in front of the idol.
"The term pagoda is, in a loose way, also applied to those Chinese buildings of a tower form which consist of several stories, each story containing a single room, and being surrounded by a gallery covered with a protruding roof. These buildings, however, differ materially from the Hindi pagodas, not only so far as their style and exterior appearance are concerned, but inasmuch as they are buildings intended for other than religious purposes. The Chinese call them Ta, and they are generally erected in commemoration of a celebrated personage or some remarkable event; and for this reason, too, they are placed on some elevated spot, where they may be conspicuous, and add to the charms of the scenery. Some of these buildings have a height of 160 feet; the finest known specimen of them is the famous Porcelain Tower of Nankin. The application of the name pagoda to a Chinese temple should be discountenanced, for, as a rule, a Chinese temple is an insignificant building, seldom more than two stories high, and built of wood; the exceptions are rare, and where they occur, as at Pekin, such temples, however magnificent, havre no architectural affinity with a Hindu pagoda." See Williams, Middle Kingdom, 1, 82, 101, 132; 2, 17; Huc, Chinese Empire, 2, 166 sq.; Bohn's India; Trevor, India, p. 89-92.