A Mysterious Octagonal Pagoda / Tower

Thu, 08/25/2022 - 00:33

I found a mysterious octagonal pagoda erected at a river band in Tan Shan River, New Territory. The first visit was in July, a typhoon signal #8 so I couldn't do a good observation. Then I paid a second visit in Aug. I climb to the top and did a details measurement of the pagoda. I talked to some villagers and someone who worked in the Government but none of them able to confirm what was it.

However, I have saw some similar structures in foreign countries and Mainland China. Subjectively I believe it was a tower which wrapped by drapery therefore no text or totem on the surface.

I have an article and video on my website (in Chinese). Take a look and share your though~~


Date picture taken
3 Jul 2022


Greetings, I have no idea what it is.  So let me guess considering these - by a stream, no openings or windows and if any the space inside would have been tiny, heavy and stable and tall, horns likely for lifting each section, and a pointed peak.   An anchor for cross-stream rope or rope-bridge?  Regards,   Peter

Hi There,

Suggest to check on old aerial photos of the area and see if there are any clues.  Unfortunately HKMS 2.0 service is currently down until further notice.

The pillar\tower look like made of concrete from your photo\clips, BTW.


Hi David,

Kayw had mentioned the general area.  Tan Shan River is the down stream of Hok Tau Reservoir.  I believe the site is close to a rubber dam along the stream, according to the description.

Nice to have a place marker though.



Thanks for you guys inputs. The pagoda locates at downstream of inflatable dam, but they are not related because the pagoda was there at least 70 years, according to a villager. The villager said it was there when he was a child (70 years ago at least)

I have checked 20s aerial photo. This area was farm. However, since the pagoda was hiding in the wood, I couldn't see it (or not see it) in any aerial photos.




This caught my eye when I checked this months Gwulo. The reason being that I live very close to this place and walk my dogs to the dam very often. When I first moved there 12 years ago I noticed it and took pictures of it. I asked Uncle Sheung in the local shop if he knew what it was but he said he used to play in the river as a kid but never noticed it before. He even a took walk down there to see for himself but has no idea what it is for. One thing he told me was that his mother always warned him not to go there because the river gods would take him! Now when I saw this photo today I showed it to my colleague who also had no idea but when I related to him the comment from uncle Sheung he came up with an idea of what it could be. I will add a couple of links below. Could it be a kind of Hitobashira built by the Japanese? 

As for the location, I have never seen a rubber dam in that area. I would say to anyone wishing to visit this site to go to the old school (now the life building cntr) nr Tang Chuk Hang village and locate the river a few metres down the lane, follow the path keeping the river on your left until you come across the dam, cross over the dam and the pillar is on your left. Would love to know what it is! 





22.5132754438283, 114.17415882455956     (cut and paste these coordinates on google maps)


Hi There,

The mentioned rubber dam is way up-stream, I believe.  Somewhere near the BBQ area,

There are also 鎮水塔 in China, but those usually comes with a stone engraving with why the pagoda was erected, together with the name of the donars (if applicable).  Generally speaking they are erected on a location where a disaster occurred.  I guess there is insufficient information for this one.


This is just a thought. When I was working on the old Qing Dynasty lighthouse in Penghu, of which I had found (by an amazing stroke of luck) the only photograph (taken probably by A Fong in 1875), I stumbled over a Fujianese sort of lookalike in Kinmen (金門) called generally 石塔/shita - stone tower. 

Penghu's shita are very different in form, but are thought to be culturally kin to the Kinmen and Little Kinmen examples that look like the HK example discussed here (the Maoshan Tower/Pagoda (茅山塔), the Wentai Pagoda (文臺寶塔)) - there are Wikipedia pages for both. The shita, different in form from what are called Wind Lion Gods/Wind Roosters, are thought to serve a similar purpose of improving an area’s fengshui and calming strong winds.

Given their general location, it is also believed they may have been built (in the case of the Maoshan Tower in the Ming Dynasty) to serve a navigational purpose - not relevant here I think!

The 'horns' would seem to me probably to be supports for an intended row of decorative tiles, which, were they there, would have completed the 'pagoda' look.


Stephen D

Thanks for all input and responses.

Just an update to the pagoda. My friend and an audience of my website they both talked to 2 villagers weeks ago. They come up in similar answer from these 2 villagers that the pagoda was built 70 years ago. One of villager clearly described that he saw the pagoda built when he was around 10, that he is 80 now. So we believe the pagoda was erected around 40-50s.

The inflatable dam was not nearby the pagoda. I have an article introducing history, materials and locations of all inflatable dams in Hong Kong, thanks for information provided by AFCD and DSD. Please see at my website :