The Confucian Temple is just across the river from downtown Liuzhou, between Half Mountain on the south and the Twin Dragon Pagodas to the north. The entrance fee will set you back a mere 10 Yuan (≈$1.64), or maybe even less – according to Liuzhou Laowai, the fee has been waived through August 15th. Rest assured, though, there's a gift shop on the grounds (and several more across the street) where you can spend big bucks if you feel the need to do so.
Construction on this temple started in 2009 (A.D., that is). The original temple is said to have been built over 1,200 years ago on a site somewhere in the vicinity, but no one nowadays knows exactly where. It was rebuilt over the centuries until it finally burned to the ground in 1928. Over 80 years later, the local government realized there might be a potential profit in rebuilding the place.
So, obviously, the new temple is a tourist trap. Not everyone got the memo, though, and occasionally people like the young lady in the left-hand photo show up to pay their respects to their ancestors.
There's often a tour bus or two in the parking lot. The tourists I've talked to were all retired people from smaller towns within a few miles of Liuzhou. They were on day trips organized by their former employers or "work units". If I were unkind, I might assume that the Liuzhou government "encouraged" these tours so that the place wouldn't look empty.
About half the tourists I saw bought incense sticks and said a couple of prayers (bowing but not kneeling). Somewhat less than half of those looked serious about it – the others were giggling and looking over their shoulders at their friends, as if to say "Look, this is how the old folks used to do it!"
If you can get over your disappointment at the newness of the place, you'll notice that it's actually very beautiful. The woodwork and carvings were all done by hand in the traditional manner and are exquisite. There are also some nice views of the city and nearby mountains from the breezeway and the gazebo near the river.
In short, I wouldn't cross the Pacific just to see the place, but if you're already in town and have some
time on your hands, it's well worth a trip over the river (specifically, across the "One Way" Bridge, when
it opens again).
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While you're in the area, you might also want to stop by the Buddhist temple in the park behind Half
Actually, "niches" would be a more appropriate word than "temple" for this place. It's just a few small,
ceramic statues in tiny caves in the side of the mountain. The statues were moved there from an
unknown location sometime in the 1930s – "unknown" to the lady who was selling incense by the gate,
that is. I woke her up (unintentionally) as I was going in and she was rather groggy when I asked her
about it. Maybe she can tell you more if you can catch her fully awake.
7/20/2013 Liuzhou Laowai wrote: I don't think the 'temple' was built primarily as a tourist attraction, although it is that, too. Nor was it exactly Liuzhou government's idea.
In fact, it was built as part of a movement cynically dictated from the top to restore Confucianism in China, after someone realised that its paternalistic philosophy and traditional legacy might help the party's failing grip.
On September 28th, 2010 (Confucius Day), all over China, old Confucian temples, new Confucian temples and downright fake Confucian temples were opened, including Liuzhou's despite the fact they hadn't nearly finished it.
It was amusing to see the Party Secretary bowing to the masses - not long ago he would have been shot for doing so.
Schoolkids are still regularly dragged off to the 'temple' to recite the Annals and to be indoctrinated in a bizarre mixture of Party and Confucian mumbo-jumbo.
7/20/2013 Fannyi wrote: You're quite right. I'd forgotten about that. Thanks!
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