Sujeongsa Temple – 수정사 (Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The Daeung-jeon Hall at Sujeongsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just west of the summit of Mt. Bibongsan in northern Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do lays Sujeongsa Temple. This temple for nuns is situated at the end of a long valley and next to a wandering stream that flows the entire way.

Sujeongsa Temple was first constructed by the monk Naong (1320-76) during the reign of King Gongmin (1351-74) of the Goryeo Dynasty. Completely destroyed at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), it was later rebuilt during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

As you approach the temple from the west, you’ll first approach a slender Iljumun Gate along the way. A further kilometre along, and you’ll finally find yourself squarely located in the temple parking lot. Just to the right of the nuns’ dorms, and to the left, you’ll find yourself squarely at the edge of the temple courtyard.

Straight ahead is the temple’s main hall: the Daeung-jeon Hall. This hall dates back to the Joseon Dynasty, and while smaller in size, it’s Gyeongsangbuk-do’s Cultural Heritage #73. The main hall is surrounded by beautiful floral and Buddhist motif murals. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, are a triad of white and gold statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). This triad is backed by a stunning gold leaf painting of the Buddha. To the left of the main altar are two paintings. The first is the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural, while the other is the temple’s guardian mural. And to the right of the main altar is a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The entire main hall lies under a beautiful, and colourful, canopy of paper lotus flowers.

To the right rear of the main hall is another compact shrine hall. This hall is the Sanshin-gak, which is dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). While the exterior walls to this hall are all unadorned all but for the traditional dancheong colours, the interior houses a large Sanshin mural that is masterfully executed.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to the remote Sujeongsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do is to take a taxi from the Cheongsong Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride should take about 20 minutes and cost 15,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. While there isn’t just one feature at Sujeongsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do that will blow you away, there are several highlights to keep an eye out for like the Sanshin Taenghwa mural housed inside the Sanshin-gak. The other main highlight is the Daeung-jeon Hall and main altar housed inside it.

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The view from the temple parking lot.

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The view as you enter the temple courtyard.

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One of the floral murals that adorns the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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And another more peculiar painting that adorns the main hall.

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A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at the main altar.

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The guardian mural inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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As well as the Chilseong mural.

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And the Jijang-bosal mural.

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All of which is housed under a beautiful rainbow of paper lotus flowers.

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A closer look at the main altar and the gold leaf mural.

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The view from the Daeung-jeon Hall towards Mt. Bibongsan.

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The Sanshin-gak at Sujeongsa Temple.

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And the descriptive Sanshin mural housed inside it.

Gyeongheungsa Temple – 경흥사 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The view from the Sanhin-gak at Gyeongheungsa Temple in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just south of the Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do city centre and east of Mt. Byeongpungsan lies Gyeongheungsa Temple. As you approach the temple grounds, and enter the temple parking lot, you’ll first notice the temple stupa field to the right of the temple shrine halls. Slightly elevated, there are a row of six stupas of varying shape that first greet you.

A little further to the left and past the monks’ facilities, are a cluster of some four temple shrine halls. The first of the four is beautifully adorned with various Buddhist motif murals like Wonhyo-daesa’s enlightenment and the Bodhidharma. Housed inside this hall is a triad centred by a uniquely designed Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) statue. He’s joined on either side by a green haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), as well as Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the far right of the main altar hangs a guardian mural.

Between the monks’ dorms and the first temple shrine hall, and up a set of wooden stairs, is the temple’s main hall, the Daeung-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with Palsang-do murals that depict the eight scenes from the Buddha’s life. As for inside this hall, there are a triad of historic statues resting on the main altar. Centred by Seokgamoni-bul and joined by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), these statues date back to 1644. Combined, these three statues make up Korea’s Treasure #1750. Also housed inside this shrine hall is a beautiful mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

To the rear of these two halls, and slightly up an embankment, are two smaller sized shrine halls at Gyeongheungsa Temple. Twisting to the left and then to the right, you’ll make your way towards these shrine halls up a forested pathway. The first of the two is the Chilseong-Dokseong-gak. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are a pair of original murals dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and the blue backdrop for Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And a little further to the right is the Sanshin-gak that also houses a blue background for Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) with a tiger with a nearly human-like face.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongsan Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to walk about 5 minutes (300 metres) to get to the Gyeongsan Shijang (market) bus stop. From this stop, you’ll need to board the Namcheon bus. After 15 stops, or 18 minutes, you’ll need to get off at the Sinseok (Cheongdo) stop. From where the bus lets you off, you’ll need to walk about 3 kilometres to Gyeongheungsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. The one major highlight to this temple is the triad of 17th century statues housed inside the Daeung-jeon main hall at Gyeongheungsa Temple. Other points of interest at this temple are all three of the shaman murals and the collection of stupas at the temple stupa field.

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The first of four shrine halls at Gyeongheungsa Temple.

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The Wonhyo-daesa enlightenment painting.

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The Bodhidharma mural, as well.

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The main altar inside the first of the four shrine halls.

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The stairs that lead up to the Daeung-jeon main hall.

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One of the eight paintings from the Palsang-do set that make up the exterior wall murals on the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The historic 17th century statues on the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The Jijang-bosal painting inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The Chilseong-Dokseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Gyeongheungsa Temple.

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The Chilseong mural housed inside the first shaman shrine hall.

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As well as the Dokseong mural.

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The Sanshin-gak at the temple.

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The unique blue backed Sanshin mural at Gyeongheungsa Temple.

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The stupa field at the temple.

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With a closer look at one of the individual stupas.

Bongseosa Temple – 봉서사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The quaint Sanshin-gak at Bongseosa Temple in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Southwest of Mt. Bongsusan in northern Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do is the remote Bongseosa Temple. Bongseosa Temple lies up a long valley and at the base of one of the peaks for Mt. Bongsusan.

Up a long stone stairway, you’ll arrive at the edge of the temple courtyard. The first thing to greet you is the compact Manse-ru Pavilion that also acts as the temple entry gate. To the left and right, as you enter the main temple courtyard, are a pair of nuns’ dorms.

Straight ahead, and just beyond the diminutive three tier stone pagoda, is the temple’s equally smaller sized main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned simply with the traditional dancheong colour scheme. Watch your head as you step inside the main hall. Sitting all alone on the main altar sits a solitary statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Joining Seokgamoni-bul inside the main hall are a pair of paintings. The first is the temple’s guardian mural, while the other is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars).

To the right of both the nuns’ dorms and the main hall, and up an embankment, is the Sanshin-gak. Framed by a ridge of twisted red pines, the yellow and red exterior houses an older mural of the shaman deity, Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Bongseosa Temple from Andong is to take a taxi from the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride should take about 30 minutes and cost 27,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. This quaint temple located in one of the lesser travelled parts of Korea makes for a nice little retreat from the everyday with its beautiful views and smaller sized shrine halls. Additionally, the nuns at Bongseosa Temple are quite gracious and might even invite you in for coffee.

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The view from Bongseosa Temple.

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The Manse-ru Pavilion that welcomes you to the temple.

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One of the older looking nuns’ dorms.

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The diminutive main hall and pagoda at Bongseosa Temple.

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A look inside the main hall.

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Which also houses this guardian mural.

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As well as this Chilseong mural.

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The beautiful view from the main hall.

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A look towards the Sanshin-gak between the main hall and the nuns’ dorms.

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A better look at the temple grounds.

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And the older looking Sanshin mural at Bongseosa Temple.

Bogwangsa Temple – 보광사 (Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The historic Manse-ru Pavilion at Bogwangsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located just north of the Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do city centre is Bogwangsa Temple. Bogwangsa Temple was first constructed by Uisang-daesa in the 7th century. Later, in the 14th century, the temple was designated the protector of the Cheongsong Shim family (a little more on that later).

You first approach Bogwangsa Temple up a long country road. If you’re driving, be careful because the road has undergone a fair bit of reconstruction and there are sharp rocks along the way. Don’t be like me and slice a tire open along the way.

The first signs that you’re nearing the temple are the turtle-based stele out in front of the temple grounds. A little further along, and past the temple parking lot, is the Manse-ru Pavilion that separates the outer world with the inner temple courtyard. The Manse-ru Pavilion was first constructed in 1429 as a place for the Cheongsong Shim family to meet. In fact, King Sejong ordered this pavilion to be built for his wife, Queen Soheon (1395-1446), to whom her family belonged to the Cheongsong Shim clan.

Passing to the right of the Manse-ru Pavilion, and before you enter the main temple courtyard, you’ll probably be welcomed to the temple by a friendly female Jindo dog. For the rest of your trip around the temple grounds, she’ll probably keep you company.

Having finally stepped into the main temple courtyard, you’ll first see the diminutive Geukrak-jeon main hall in front of you. Out in front of this hall is an equally smaller sized three tier stone pagoda. As for the Geukrak-jeon Hall, it was first constructed in 1429, alongside the Manse-ru Pavilion. Sometime during the early to mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the Geukrak-jeon Hall was destroyed. It wasn’t until the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty, and during its renovation, that it was discovered that the newly built Geukrak-jeon Hall had been formerly constructed in 1615.

While the exterior walls to this hall are largely unadorned, it’s while stepping inside the main hall that you’ll be welcomed by beautiful murals and statues. Resting on the main altar are a triad of uniquely made sculptures. In the centre rests Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power and Wisdom for Amita-bul). This triad is then backed by a new altar mural. Filling out the rest of the main hall is a guardian mural in the same style as the large main altar painting.

To the left rear of the main hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Slightly elevated over top of the Geukrak-jeon Hall, and all but unadorned, once more, you’ll be welcomed inside the shaman shrine hall by a triad of shaman paintings. The first of the three, and in the far left corner, is an elaborate Sanshin mural dedicated to the Mountain Spirit. This mural is joined to the right by an older mural of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) as well as Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

The other buildings at Bogwangsa Temple are buildings for the nuns like the nuns’ dorms and the temple kitchen.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest and fastest way to get to Bogwangsa Temple is to take a taxi from the Cheongsong Intercity Bus Terminal. By taxi it should take 10 minutes and cost 3,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Bogwangsa Temple has a royal past that’s linked closely to the famed King Sejong. The historic Manse-ru Pavilion and the Geukrak-jeon main hall are a close link to this past. And when you add into the mix the beautiful temple artwork like the main altar statues and paintings, as well as the elaborate Sanshin mural inside the Samseong-gak, and Bogwangsa Temple makes for a nice little trip outside Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

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The turtle-based stele at the entry of Bogwangsa Temple.

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The temple grounds as you first approach Bogwangsa Temple.

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The friendly Jindo dog with the diminutive three tier pagoda next to her.

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A look inside the historic Manse-ru Pavilion at Bogwangsa Temple.

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The 17th century Geukrak-jeon Hall.

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The doily that welcomes you inside the main hall.

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The main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

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A closer look at Amita-bul that centres the main altar.

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The guardian mural inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

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What a view!!

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left rear of the main hall.

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The elaborate Sanshin mural at Bogwangsa Temple.

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As well as the Chilseong mural.

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And the Jindo exhausted after our little walk around the temple grounds.

Yongsusa Temple – 용수사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The Sanshin-gak at Yongsusa Temple in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

North of Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and just south of Bonghwa, is Yongsusa Temple. The towering Mt. Yongdusan looms in the background as you make the long trek up to the scenic Yongsusa Temple.

You’ll pass through the slender two pillar Iljumun Gate on your way up to the ridge that holds Yongsusa Temple. When you do finally stand on the ridge that holds this temple, you’ll notice the compact bell pavilion to your left. Inside the compact bell pavilion is a beautiful bronze bell with various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and floral patterns adorning it.

Slightly to the right, and book ended by a pair of long visitors’ dorms, is the temple’s main hall. The Daeung-jeon Hall is surrounded in the front and to the side by three marble replicas of famous pagodas that include Seokga-tap Pagoda and Dabo-tap Pagoda. The originals, of course, can be found at Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju. The exterior walls to this hall are surrounded by Buddhist motif murals like the Sacheonwang (The Four Heavenly Kings). Also, the lotus latticework at the front of the main hall is some of the best that you’ll find in Korea. Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful array of statues and paintings. Resting on the main altar is a seated statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), who is surrounded by a fiery wooden nimbus. Joining the Buddha on the main altar are two standing statues of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Rounding out the interior to the main hall is a wooden guardian relief. And the entire interior of the main hall falls under a beautiful canopy of colourful paper lanterns.

To the left of the main hall is a small enclosure with a weather-worn image of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). And to the far right of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the Sanshin-gak, which lies up a long set of uneven wooden stairs. Inside this shaman shrine hall is one of the best examples of a Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural you’ll find in Korea with its uniquely painted tiger.

HOW TO GET THERE: Either from the Andong train station or the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal, because they are next to each other, you’ll need to exit either one and make your way to the Kyobolife bus stop, which is a three minute walk. From the Kyobolife bus stop, board Bus #67. After 42 stops, or an hour and forty minutes, get off at the Yongsusa Temple stop. From the bus stop, walk 425 metres, or 5 minutes, to Yongsusa Temple.

Additionally, you can take a taxi from the Andong train station or Andong Intercity Bus Terminal. The taxi ride should take 50 minutes and cost 27,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. The main highlights to this hard to get to temple are the Daeung-jeon main altar and the Sanshin mural housed inside the Sanshin-gak. Other points of interest are the temple’s bronze bell and the triad of marble pagoda replicas out in front of the main hall.

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The view of the temple from the temple’s bell pavilion.

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The bronze bell at Yongsusa Temple.

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The Daeung-jeon Hall at Yongsusa Temple.

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The shrine for the ancient Mireuk-bul statue.

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A closer look at what apparently is Mireuk-bul.

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An even closer look at the Future Buddha.

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The amazing latticework at the front of the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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One of the Four Heavenly Kings.

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As well as one of the Buddhist motif murals adorning the main hall.

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A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall during morning prayer.

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A look around the main temple courtyard.

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The marble replica of the Dabo-tap Pagoda with an eye towards the Sanshin-gak.

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A view from the base of the Sanshin-gak.

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The long set of stairs towards the Sanshin-gak.

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The tiger mural painted on one of the exterior walls of the Sanshin-gak.

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The amazing Sanshin mural inside the Sanshin-gak at Yongsusa Temple.

Juwolsa Temple – 주월사 (Uiseong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The view from the Daeung-jeon Hall at Juwolsa Temple in Uiseong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the south-western slopes of Mt. Hwanghaksan in eastern Uiseong, Gyeongsangbuk-do is the mountainside Juwolsa Temple. At an elevation of nearly 300 metres, you get a great view of the valley below.

Climbing the stairs towards the compact temple grounds, you’ll pass by a pair of intertwining dragon based stone lanterns. These highly unique lanterns are only rivaled by the five tier pagoda with squat dragons around its base in the main temple courtyard.

Behind the five tier stone pagoda is the Daeung-jeon main hall at Juwolsa Temple. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with various Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha) murals. A variety of Nahan murals can also be found inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, as well. Resting on the main altar is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by a crowned pair of Bodhisattvas: Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the right of the main altar is the temple’s guardian mural. And to the left of the main altar, and rather uniquely, are two white papered walls with a statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) taking up residence in an opening on the left of the two white walls.

To the left and immediate right of the main hall are a pair of buildings for the monks that take up residence at Juwolsa Temple; namely the monks’ dorms and the temple kitchen. It’s up the embankment that you’ll find the next shrine hall, the Yonghwa-jeon Hall. Housed inside this hall is a metre tall statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

But it’s to the right of both the Yonghwa-jeon Hall and the monks’ dorms that you’ll find the true stand-out at Juwolsa Temple. In this part of the temple, you’ll find the pond fronted Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Crossing the wooden bridge that spans the neighbouring pond, you’ll enter the older looking Samseong-gak. Immediately upon entering the shaman shrine hall, you’ll be welcomed by a unique Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural with the hypnotizing eyes of the tiger that stands next to him. Rounding out the set of paintings inside the Samseong-gak is the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural that hangs in the centre. This mural appears to have been painted by the same artist as the Sanshin Taenghwa, as is the lazing Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) mural inside the shaman shrine hall.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Uiseong Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take the bus that reads: “Uiseong – Hwamok.” With this bus, you’ll need to take it for 13 stops, or 26 minutes. Finally, you’ll need to get off at the Yangji 3-ri (양지3리) bus stop. From this stop, you’ll need to walk 1.4 km, or 21 minutes, to get to Juwolsa Temple.

You can take public transportation, or you can simply take a taxi from the Uiseong Intercity Bus Terminal. From the bus terminal to Juwolsa Temple, it’ll take 22 minutes and set you back 12,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. This temple is situated in a rather remote part of the country in Uiseong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. With that in mind, the pond out in front of the Samseong-gak, the masonry behind the temple pagoda and stone lanterns, as well as the beautiful view of the valley down below, make Juwolsa Temple a pretty tempting place to visit in a little traveled part of Korea.

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The temple courtyard at Juwolsa Temple.

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The dragon base of one of the stone lanterns at the temple.

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Inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The guardian mural inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The white walls of the Jijang-bosal shrine inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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One of the Nahan murals that adorns the interior and exterior walls of the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The Yonghwa-jeon Hall to the rear of the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The Mireuk-bul statue that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty housed inside the Yonghwa-jeon Hall.

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The wintry sky from the Yonghwa-jeon Hall.

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A look down on a snowy Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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A look across the frozen pond out in front of the Samseong-gak.

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The Chilseong mural in the centre of the set of murals inside the shaman shrine hall.

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To the right hangs this mural dedicated to Sanshin.

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And to the left hangs this mural of Dokseong.

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The snow covered view at Juwolsa Temple.

Ingaksa Temple – 인각사 (Gunwi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The snowy Sallyeong-gak at Ingaksa Temple in Gunwi, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Ingaksa Temple in south-eastern Gunwi, Gyeongsangbuk-do is said to have purportedly been first constructed by the famed Wonhyo-daesa during the reign of Queen Seondeok (r. 632-647 A.D.). The name of the temple relates to the neigbouring landscape that surrounds Ingaksa Temple. Ingaksa Temple, in English, means “Giraffe Horn Temple.” With the Wicheon Stream flowing to the north of the temple, Ingaksa Temple is surrounded by Mt. Hwasan. Historically, people thought that Mt. Hwasan looked like a giraffe. And where Ingaksa Temple is located is where, according to these people, a corresponding giraffe’s horn should be located.

Ingaksa Temple was further expanded during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), and with its growth, it also became one of the most prominent temples throughout the Korean peninsula. Ingaksa Temple is closely associated with the famed Ilyeon (1206-89) because it’s believed that he wrote the Samguk Yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) at Ingaksa Temple over a five year period starting in 1281.

You first approach Ingaksa Temple in a bend in the Wicheon Stream. Entering the temple parking lot and past the field of stone artifacts which date back to the Unified Silla Dynasty (668-935 A.D.), you’ll finally enter the large temple courtyard. Straight ahead lies the Geukrak-jeon main hall. Out in front of the Geukrak-jeon Hall is a three tier pagoda. Housed inside the recently renovated main hall is a triad of statues centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). Amita-bul is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). To the left of this triad are a pair of paintings. The first is an elaborate Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural that’s joined to the rear by a rather unique Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. Rounding out the set, and to the right of the main altar, is the temple’s guardian mural.

To the right of the Geukrak-jeon Hall is the Guksa-jeon Hall (The Hall for the State Preceptor). In this case, this Guksa-jeon is dedicated to Ilyeon-guksa. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Housed inside this large shrine hall are a pair of murals dedicated to Ilyeon. To the rear of this hall, and to the right, are a pair of stone artifacts. The first is a seated stone image of the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul, that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty. This stone sculpture is joined to the right by the octagonal stone stupa for Ilyeon. It’s believed that the stupa dates back to between 1289 (the time of Ilyeon’s death) and 1295. Either way, the stupa has been amazingly preserved for its age. A little less well preserved is the stele to the left rear of the Guksa-jeon Hall. Like the stupa, it dates back to between 1289 and 1295, but only the stone body of the stele still exists. And even this is in rough shape. Both the stupa and stele for Ilyeon-guksa are Korean Treasure #428.

Between both the Geukrak-jeon Hall and the Guksa-jeon Hall is the temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Inside the dancheong exterior of the Judgment Hall is a smaller, green haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This statue is joined by ten smaller sized statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld, as well.

To the rear of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, and up an elevated path, is the Sallyeong-gak, which houses a fading mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Unlike the other shrine halls, the Sallyeong-gak shaman shrine hall cannot be entered. Instead, at this diminutive shrine, a person must pray outside towards the painting inside.

The final shrine hall a person can enter is the Mireuk-dang Hall, which is housed in a modern building. The damaged image of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) rests all alone on the main altar and dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty.

And no trip to Ingaksa Temple would be complete without visiting the museum dedicated to the monk Ilyeon-guksa at the front of the temple grounds.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gunwi Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to board a bus that reads “Gunwi – Nakjeon, 군위 – 낙전” or “Gunwi – Hakam, 군위 – 학암.” With either of these buses, you’ll need to take the bus for 21 stops, or 57 minutes. You’ll then need to get off at the Hwabuk 1 ri (화북 1리) stop. From where the bus lets you of, you’ll need to walk an additional 900 metres, or 13 minutes, to get to Ingaksa Temple.

You can take a bus or simply take a taxi from the Gunwi Intercity Bus Terminal. The taxi ride should last 33 minutes and set you back 23,200 won.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Like so many other temples on the peninsula, Ingaksa Temple has quite the past. But what sets this temple apart is its connection with Ilyeon-guksa with the Guksa-jeon Hall, as well as the stele and stupa dedicated to the writer of the Samguk Yusa. Other points of interest at Ingaksa Temple is the painting of Sanshin housed inside the Sallyeong-gak and the stone artifacts at the front of the temple.

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The temple courtyard at Ingaksa Temple.

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A look at the stone artifacts of the temple from the Unified Silla Dynasty.

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The Geukrak-jeon Hall and three tier stone pagoda out in front of it.

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A look inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall at the main altar and the Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural.

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The Chilseong mural to the left rear of the main hall.

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The Ilyeon Museum at Ingaksa Temple.

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The Goryeo Dynasty Buddha statue at the temple.

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The octagonal stupa for Ilyeon-guksa at Ingaksa Temple.

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The Guksa-jeon Hall to the right of the main hall.

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A look inside the Guksa-jeon Hall.

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One painting dedicated to the author of the Samguk Yusa.

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And the other painting dedicated to Ilyeon-guksa on the main altar.

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The enclosure for the battered stele dedicated to Ilyeon-guksa.

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The late 13th century stele has seen better days.

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One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the Guksa-jeon Hall.

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The view from the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall with Jijang-bosal front and centre.

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The Sallyeong-gak shrine hall dedicated to Sanshin.

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And the beautiful, fading mural dedicated to the Mountain Spirit inside.

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The snowy trail leading up to the Sallyeong-gak with a devotee praying at it.

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The statue of Mireuk-bul from the Goryeo Dynasty that’s seen better days.

Daejeonsa Temple – 대전사 (Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The beautiful and scenic Daejeonsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

On the southwest side of Juwangsan National Park outside of Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do is the extremely scenic Daejeonsa Temple. Daejeonsa Temple was first established in 672 A.D. by the famed monk Uisang-daesa. The name of the temple cryptically refers to the son of King Ju: Daejeondogun. According to legend, King Ju was a Chinese rebel that retreated to Mt. Juwangsan where he hid and died.

After paying your entry fee at the Juwangsan National Park, you’ll make your way towards Daejeonsa Temple next to the wandering Jubang-cheon stream. Along the way you’ll pass by a collection of restaurants and souvenir stores. Finally, you’ll arrive at the temple entry gate where you’ll have to pay an additional 2,800 won to enter Daejeonsa Temple.

Straight ahead, and framed by the rounded peaks of Mt. Juwangsan, is the Bogwang-jeon main hall. This hall dates back to 1672 after the original was destroyed during the Imjin War (1592-98). Inside this unadorned exterior is a triad of statues centred by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He is joined by what looks to be Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). And out in front of the Bogwang-jeon Hall is a reconstructed three tier pagoda with ancient guardians edged into its base.

To the left of the main hall stands the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with various incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). They are all masterful in their execution. Stepping inside this hall, you’ll be greeted by the multi-armed and headed Gwanseeum-bosal on the main altar. She’s joined by Yongwang (The Dragon King) to the left. Interestingly, there are two circles of orange lotuses shaped by crystal to either side of the main altar with a golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal in the centre.

And to the right of the Bogwang-jeon main hall are two additional shrine halls. The first, and smaller of the two, is the uniquely shaped Sanshin-gak. Instead of having the Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural facing directly towards you as you enter, the painting is to the far left in an otherwise unoccupied shaman shrine hall. As for the painting itself, it’s newer in composition and there’s a snickering tiger to the left of Sanshin.

The final shrine hall that visitors can explore is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall to the right of the Sanshin-gak. Inside this shrine hall, and resting on the main altar, is a golden capped Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This statue is then backed by an older mural of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife. Additionally, Jijang-bosal is surrounded on both sides by ten smaller sized statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.

After visiting all the shrine halls at Daejeonsa Temple, take the time to enjoy the beauty at Juwangsan National Park. There are two additional hermitages, Juwangam Hermitage and Baekryeonam Hermitage, that can be enjoyed in close proximity to Daejeonsa Temple, as well.

Admission to the temple is 2,800 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Juwangsan Bus Terminal, you can simply walk to Daejeonsa Temple. It’s about an 800 metre walk to get to the temple.

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Depending on just how much of Juwangsan National Park you want to explore, this overall rating can go a lot higher; however, with just Daejeonsa Temple in mind, it gets the rating it does. Daejeonsa Temple takes up residence in one of the most beautiful National Parks in Korea. With this as a backdrop, the refined paintings housed throughout the Gwanseum-jeon Hall as well as the snickering tiger in the Sanshin mural make Daejeonsa Temple a must see especially for a nice little retreat away from a hectic life.

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A frozen Jubang-cheon stream out in front of Daejeonsa Temple.

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The towering peaks of Mt. Juwangsan off in the distance.

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A part of the Taebaeksan mountain range.

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The beautifully framed Daejeonsa Temple.

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The ancient base to the three tier pagoda out in front of the Bogwang-jeon main hall.

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A look inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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As well as a look at the uniquely designed Sanshin-gak.

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Sanshin with a snickering tiger at his side.

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Both Mt. Juwangsan and the Gwaneum-jeon Hall together.

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A closer look at the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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One of the amazing paintings that adorns the exterior walls to the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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A look inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall at Gwanseeum-bosal.

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With Yongwang to her side.

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One of the beautiful paintings that’s painted on one of the interior walls of the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

Colonial Korea: Geojoam Hermitage – 거조암 (Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The hermitage grounds at Geojoam Hermitage in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do in 1933.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Geojoam Hermitage, which is located on the eastern slopes of Mt. Palgongsan in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do, is directly associated with the much larger Eunhaesa Temple. While the exact date of Geojoam Hermitage isn’t exactly known, it’s believed that Geojoam Hermitage predates Eunhaesa Temple, which was first founded in 809 A.D. by the monk Hycheol. Some think that Geojoam Hermitage was first founded in 738 A.D. by the monk Woncham. Others believe that the temple might have first been constructed during the reign of the Silla king, King Gyeongdeok (r. 742-765). Originally, the hermitage was known as Haeansa Temple.

Throughout the years, Geojoam Hermitage has been destroyed numerous times by fire. And in recent years, the hermitage has fallen under the administrative lead of the neighbouring Eunhaesa Temple.

Geojoam Hermitage’s greatest claim to fame, and in fact one of only two temple shrine halls at the hermitage, is the Yeongsan-jeon Hall, or the “Vulture Peak Hall,” in English. According to records found during one of the shrine halls reconstructions, the Yeongsan-jeon Hall dates back to 1375. This makes it one of the oldest wooden structures behind Sudeoksa Temple’s Daeung-jeon Hall, which dates back to 1308; but older than the Muryangsu-jeon main hall at Buseoksa Temple, which dates back to 1376. Inside the Yeongsan-jeon Hall are 526 stone statues of the Nahan.

The Yeongsan-jeon Hall at Geojoam Hermitage is Korea’s National Treasure #14. With only a handful of mid-Goryeo Dynasty buildings still in existence in Korea, it’s no wonder that the main hall at Geojoam Hermitage is a national treasure.

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The 14th century Yeongsan-jeon main hall at Geojoam Hermitage. The picture dates back to 1933.

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The front facade to one of the oldest wooden structures in Korea: The Yeongsan-jeon Hall.

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A closer look at the 1375 structure.

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As well as the simplistic Goryeo architecture on display at Geojoam Hermitage.

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Inside the amazing main hall at Geojoam Hermitage.

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The main altar and some of the Nahan statues on display inside the Yeongsan-jeon Hall. This picture, also, dates back to 1933.

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A more modern look at the Yeongsan-jeon main hall. This picture dates back to 2011.

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The front view towards the 1375 building.

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The Goryeo architecture, which is rarely on display in Korea, is in sharp contrast to the Joseon Dynasty designs.

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A look up at the wooden eaves of the main hall.

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Inside the Yeongsan-jeon Hall with a look around its interior at some of the stone Nahan statues.

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One more expansive look from 2011 inside Korean National Treasure #14.

Jangyuksa Temple – 장육사 (Yeongdeok, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal at Jangyuksa Temple in Yeongdeok, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just south of Mt. Unseosan in the remote city of Yeongdeok, Gyeongsangbuk-do is Jangyuksa Temple. The temple was first constructed by the monk Naong (1320-1376) during the reign of King Gongmin of Goryeo (r. 1351-74). Subsequently, it was completely destroyed by a brush fire during the reign of King Sejong (r. 1418-50). It was later to be rebuilt only to be destroyed, once more, this time by the invading Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-98). Not long after, the temple grounds were rebuilt with the last major restoration taking place in 1900. Now, over one hundred years later, it seems as though Jangyuksa Temple is undergoing yet another major renovation.

You first approach the temple grounds from a twisting country road. From the temple parking lot, you’ll get a great view to your right of the sprawling temple grounds with a meandering stream to your left.

Mounting the stone set of stairs, you’ll find the temple bell pavilion halfway up the stairs. Housed inside this pavilion is a beautiful oxidized temple bell. Finally, after viewing the bell pavilion, you’ll pass under the temple’s Boje-ru Pavilion. Just watch your head while passing under this pavilion because the ceiling is quite low. Appearing on the other side, you’ll finally have all the major shrine halls in front of you. The first of the set, the Daeung-jeon Hall, lies directly in front of you. While the exterior walls are largely unadorned all but for the dancheong traditional colour scheme, there is a beautiful three tier pagoda to the right of the main hall. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To your left of the main altar is an elaborate guardian mural. And if you look up at the ceiling inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a collection of older murals like the book-ending pair of Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal. Have a look around the main hall, because it’s definitely worth it.

To the left of the main hall is the Gwaneum-jeon. Like the Daeung-jeon Hall, the Gwaneum-jeon Hall is bare all but for the Korean traditional dancheong colours. As for the interior, and resting all alone on the main altar, is a beautiful Gwanseeum-bosal statue with long black hair. This statue is backed by an elaborate one thousand armed mural of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Rounding out the interior of the hall are row up row of diminutive golden statues of Gwanseeum-bosal.

And to the far left, and the furthest up the mountain, is the Sanshin-gak. Like the previous two halls, this one, too, is all but unadorned on the outside. Stepping inside the shrine hall, you’ll notice an intense image of a tiger joining Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) in the Sanshin mural.

HOW TO GET THERE: Without the use of your own vehicle, or that of a friend or family member, Jangyuksa Temple is virtually impossible to get to. With nearly a two and a half hour ride on public transportation and multiple bus changes, this mode of transportation bears this out. So be forewarned when visiting this extremely remote part of Korea.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The main highlight at Jangyuksa Temple is the interior of the Daeung-jeon Hall with its historic murals and colourful interior. Other things to keep an eye out for are the murals contained within the Sanshin-gak and the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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The entry to Jangyuksa Temple.

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The temple’s bell pavilion.

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The bronze bell at the temple that has started the oxidization process.

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The Daeung-jeon main hall at Jangyuksa Temple.

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The three tier-stone pagoda to the right of the main hall.

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A closer look at the relief of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) on the pagoda.

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A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at the main altar.

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The temple’s guardian mural.

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The child-like image of Munsu-bosal inside the main hall.

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As well as the child-like image of the elephant riding Bohyun-bosal.

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The view from the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The Gwaneum-jeon Hall to the left of the Daeung-jeon main hall.

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A look inside the elaborate Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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And to the left of the Gwaneum-jeon is the Sanshin-gak.

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The beautiful Sanshin mural inside the Sanshin-gak.