Jianshui is a city in Honghe prefecture, Yunnan Province. It was an historic center of the province and remains an important transportation crossroad.
From Kunming, Jianshui is 220 km south, about 3 hours by car. To the east lies Jijie, to the west Shiping, to the southeast Gejiu and Yuanyang, to the north Tonghai.
Yunnan's biggest temple - the Jianshui Confucius Temple - is located near the northern city gate of Jianshui.
Its size is second only to that of the Qufu Confucius temple in Shandong Province and is now one of the provincial historical relics. It is recorded that the Jianshui Confucius Temple was built in 1285. The temple covers an area of 114mu (about 7.5 ha), imitating the style of the Qufu Confucius Temple, namely, a central - axis structure like a palace.
This complex includes a main hall, two side - halls, three pavilions, four gates, five clan halls and eight memorial archways.
The temple is surrounded with trees giving it a solemn appearance. On the westem side of the temple, there are two symbiotic trees. It is said that they were planted in the Yuan Dynasty. One is a cypress and the other is a banyan, which forms the unique picture Marshal Wan embracing Miss Bai.
The Swallow Cave
Swallows build their nests with grass and their nutritious saliva. The steamed swallow nests are a delicacy in this region (edible bird nests). Every year from August 8 to 10 during the famous Birds Nest Festival, some local people climb up the dazzling 50-meter-high cliffs to fetch these nests. During these three days, many visitors come here and watch the dangerous but exciting nest-collecting tradition.
Known as one of "the biggest and most splendid caves in Asia" (it's more than 4,000 meters long), the Swallow Cave Scenic Region with a total area of 100,000 square meters is located in the mountains 30 km east of Jianshui, and consists of a dry cave, a water cave and a 30,000-square-meter natural forest. Every year between spring and summer, thousands of swallows will fly here from Malaysia, building nests and giving birth to and raising young swallows. Thus it is named "the Swallow Cave". The local environment is a perfect dwelling for swallows because steep cliffs make it impossible for mice and snakes to come up, and bushes and grassland outside the cave help produce insects that provide abundant food for the birds. The special ecosystem makes a grand scene - "the gathering of thousands of swallows".
Every year on March 21, another special but even more dangerous and exciting activity is the board-hanging ceremony. As a rule, firecrackers are let off to express people's good wishes to climbers. Then in a merry atmosphere, those brave men slowly and carefully climb up, barehanded. Although it is very dangerous, no one has failed to hang a board onto the top. Nowadays, over 1,000 boards hang on the stalactites over the entrance, some of which have been there for generations.
Inside the Swallow Cave, there is a path of about 3,000 meters. The upper part is the dry cave and the lower part the water cave. Along the way, there are three main scenic areas, namely, "Long Quan Tan You" (Exploring Along Dragon Spring), "Tian Jie Xie Mei" (Picking up Beauty in Heavenly Streets) and "Meng Huan Shi Jie" (Wonderland). Entering the cave, walking up the stairs on the left and passing through a narrow cave, one arrives at the "air veranda", which gives people a dazzling feeling. The scene in the water cave is marvelous as well, which a 50-meter-high and 30-meter-wide entrance. The cave can be entered either on foot or by boat.
The Lujiang River pours into the cave as an underground river. Experts have proved that the water cave has had a history of three million years. Due to the wash of water, stalactites of different shapes have come into being. The dry cave is shaped like a grand hall, big enough to contain 1,000 people. It is a place for rest and sometimes also for watching local performances. At the exit, three different pieces of the sky can be seen at three different positions. This is another unique scene, which adds luster to the cave.
When people visit in the Swallow Cave, hundreds of thousands of swallows are dancing up and down while they are twittering. Their merry note and the murmuring sound of running water become a unique symphony.
The Double Dragon Bridge