Hanoi’s most revered temple complex, the Temple of Literature, is both Vietnam’s principal Confucian sanctuary and its historical centre of learning. The temple is also one of the few remnants of the Ly kings’ original city and retains a strong sense of harmony despite reconstruction and embellishment over the nine hundred years since its dedication in 1070. It consists of 5 courtyards including a Confucian temple built on the lines of the originaal one at Qifu, China, birthplace of Confucious. The fifth courtyard housed the National Academy, regarded as Vietnam’s first university, which was founded in 1076 to educate princes and high officials in Confucian doctrine. Later, the academy held triennial examinations to select the country’s senior mandarins, a practice that continued almost uninterrupted until 1802 when Emperor Gia Long moved the nation’s capital to Hué.
© Ramdas Iyer Photography