A view of the beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom as well as the bell pavilion at Cheongryeonsa Temple in Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Because Cheongryeonsa Temple is so close to the neighbouring Gwanryongsa Temple, we decided to visit yet another of the beautiful temples located in Changnyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Just outside the gates for Mt. Hwawangsan Park, and along a beautiful riverside that houses several rows of cherry blossoms, is Cheongryeonsa Temple. Up a newly laid asphalt road that twists and turns is where the beautiful temple is located. And while there is a lot of construction further up the road, Cheongryeonsa Temple is well cared for and maintained.
As you first approach the temple, you’ll be greeted by a greenish looking stone statue of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light). He sits out in front of the temple in a little shrine pavilion. Further up the road, and to the right, you’ll finally arrive at the main temple compound. And the first thing to greet you, besides the towering cherry blossoms that were fully in bloom when we arrived, is an ornately decorated Cheonwangmun Gate dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings that are meant to protect the temple from evil spirits. The doors to this gate are decorated with fierce looking paintings of Heng and Ha. The open mouthed Ha is to the right, while the fully-flared nostrils of Heng are to the left. The same artist that painted the Heng and Ha murals probably painted the Four Heavenly Kings, as well. Unfortunately, when these doors are open, two, of the four, kings are hidden. But either way, you get a good glimpse of these kings that are atypically painted on the walls of the Cheonwangmun Gate. Above these Heavenly King murals are four floral totting and music playing Biseon. Around the exterior of this gate are various murals like Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa, as well as the Dharma.
After stepping through this gate, you’ll be greeted by a well-manicured courtyard. While there aren’t as many buildings as the neighbouring Gwanryongsa Temple, the grounds are just as pleasing to the eye. To your immediate left is the temple’s visitors’ centre and kitchen. And to your immediate right is the temple’s bell pavilion. Solitarily sitting in the depths of the bell pavilion is a large sized Brahma Bell, and on each of the four corners of the bell pavilion are four fierce looking, and protective, lions. The bell pavilion is joined by numerous neighbouring cherry blossom trees that hover over the roof of the pavilion, much like the imposing neighbouring mountain does to the west of the temple grounds. Next to this bell pavilion is a rather non-descript row of monks’ dorms.
The most impressive feature of Cheongryeonsa Temple is the main hall. Out in front of the main hall is a nice looking coy pond with beautiful bright red coy inside the pond. The only unfortunate thing about it is that there is an ugly mesh cover over the coy pond. As for the exterior of the main hall, it’s adorned with some nicely rendered Palsang-do paintings of the Historical Buddha’s life. Sitting on the main altar is a triad centred by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). To his right sits Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and to the left of Amita-bul is Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). These three statues date back to the late-Joseon Period and were transferred to this temple from their former location of Daeheungsa Temple. Backing this triad is a copy of the Yeongsan Hoehu Bultaeng of Cheongryeonsa Temple. The original dates back to 1863, and in the centre of the mural sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Perhaps the most amazing feature of this altar are the wood-engravings throughout the base of the altar that depicts various Bodhisattvas, Biseon, demons, tigers, and elephants. On the far right wall is a newer looking mural of the Dragon Ship of Wisdom. And next to this, understandably, is a statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). On the far left wall is an elaborately painted, and masterfully executed, guardian painting. And with the same masterful brush, the neighbouring Chilseong (Seven Stars) painting is situated.
Up the hill, and up a newly constructed set of wooden stairs, is the equally newly built San shin-gak. This hall is soley dedicated to San shin (The Mountain Spirit). Be careful when you visit because the floor of the shrine hall is littered with dead wasps. I guess there’s something that attracts wasps to the sweet wood smell of the San shin-gak shrine hall at Cheongryeonsa Temple. Resting on the altar, of the yet to be painted interior and exterior of this hall, is a large size San shin statue. The Mountain Spirit is resting upon his accompanying tiger. The statue is joined by two helpers. All of this is backed by a mural of just a tiger.
HOW TO GET THERE: Depending on where you’re coming from, you can arrive at Cheongryeonsa Temple in a couple ways. If you’re coming from Seoul, you can take a bus that leaves five times a day to Changnyeong. And if you’re leaving from Daegu, Busan, or Miryang, you can take a bus that heads to the city of Youngsan. The bus to Youngsan specifically says Youngsan-haeng (영산행) on it. During this bus ride to Youngsan, you’ll have to get off at Gyeseong. And from Gyeseong, you can take a local a taxi. You simply have to tell the taxi driver “Cheongryeonsa” and they’ll know the rest.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10. While not nearly as impressive as the neighbouring Gwanryongsa Temple, in conjunction with this temple, Cheongryeonsa Temple can make for a nice little visit to the small town of Changnyeong. The highlights of this temple are easily the statue of Birojana-bul out in front of the temple grounds. As for the temple itself, the highlights are the bell pavilion and accompanying cherry blossom trees, as well as the decorative main hall with the mural and triad of statues.