A stroll around the Confucian Academy of Jianshui is a serene experience. I visited the day before the Chinese New Year, and the streets of the city were erupting in a constant state of exploding fire crackers. But at the Confucian academy, inside the giant walls that surround this 7.5 hectare complex, a state of serenity reined. I made my way around the large Xue Lake and lilly pond content being sheltered from the outside world.
It is here that worried parents bring their children to kowtow to the statue of Confucius before exams in the summer. The temple here was modeled after the one in Qufu, Confucius’ hometown. Finished in 1285, it’s the third-largest in all of China.
The temple has operated as a school for over 750 years and once held the imperial examinations.
Although located slightly off the tourist trail, Jianshui has some outstanding sights and proved to be one of my favorite destinations in all of China due to its plethora of traditional architecture and easy-going inhabitants.
Besides the happenings in and around the beautiful Chaoyang Gate, the Zhu Family Gardens is well worth a look. On the outskirts of town, the Twin Dragon Bridge—one of the ten oldest in China—waits to be explored.
Jianshui is a three-hour bus ride south of Kunming in China’s Yunnan Provice.