China, while developing at an elephantine pace, is also preserving and embracing its past. It has achieved so by framing its ancient villages in just the same way that they were 900 years ago. The picturesque ancient village of Hongcun in Yixian County, about 65 km from Huangshan Tunxi downtown area is an example. It is only 10 Km from another ancient village, Xidi and is situated at the southernmost foot of the Yellow Mountain or the Huangshan Mountain. By Shubhanjana Das
Hongcun is spread in only 28 hectares and yet was home to members of the Wang clan with only 13 traditional houses at the time. Some of its buildings even date back to the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279). Hongcun, also referred to as the ‘ancient village in Chinese paintings’, is till date as much of a delight to history lovers as it is to nature lovers—thanks to the impeccable fashion in which it has been maintained. It was after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was filmed in Hongcun that more and more people started to know about this place. Buildings like South Lake Academy, Lexu Hall, Chengzhi Hall, Sanli Hall and Shuren Hall from the Ming and Qing dynasties still stand tall.
A mesmerising specimen of Anhui-style architecture, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure of the Chinese culture and tradition. It is steeped in history and has been able to keep away from industrialisation and urbanisation. As soon as you enter this idyllic village, a landscape reminiscent of Chinese movies greets you. Water lily ponds under stone bridges, verdant green hills, sprawling lakes and the many traditional buildings—it will be hard for you to leave this place in just a day or two.
While South Lake and the crescent-shaped Moon Pond are must-visits and perfect to gape at while reflecting on the busy, fast-paced lives—simply strolling around the village is enough to satisfy senses. The village houses merely 1,500 people, who are welcoming and ever-smiling. Just one look around this scene is introduction enough to the serenity that Hongcun citizens lead their lives with. It is perfect when you need some contemplation and insight in life. March to April and early September to November are best times to visit Hongcun.