The Temple of Yan Hui may not be as large and grandiose as the Temple of Confucius, but it has a tranquil beauty that makes it well worth a visit. The temple is a fifteen-minute walk from the exit of the Kong Mansion. You can stop off there before heading on to the Kong Forest.
Yan Hui was Confucius’s favorite disciple and protégé, and led a simple life of poverty. In the temple is the well that he drew water from when living in a “hovel” in a “shabby lane”. According to Confucius in Chapter 11 of Book 6 of the Analects, “while others would have been unable to endure such misery, Yan Hui never let it make any difference to his happiness.”
When Yan Hui died at the age of thirty-two, Confucius was absolutely devastated – probably even more so than when his own son Boyu passed away. In Chapter IX of Book 11 of The Analects, he famously laments: “Alas! Heaven is destroying me. Heaven is destroying me!” Some people were so shocked by the extent of his grief that they described it as excessive.
The Temple of Yan Hui was first built during the Yuan dynasty and reconstructed during the Ming dynasty. While its greatest highlight may very well be the stunning dragon head motif that adorns the ceiling of the main Fusheng Hall, the architecture and landscaping of the entire complex is so sublime that seems almost unfair to single it out.