The stunning view of the main hall and valley at Gyeseungsa Temple in Goseong.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Gyeseungsa Temple in Goseong was a temple I didn’t really know that much about. I had read a couple of reviews on it, and I thought I would chance it and see what the temple had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived at the temple.
You arrive at Gyeseungsa Temple up probably one of the longest and most treacherous roads I’ve been on in a car. You finally arrive at the temple, which has an amazingly beautiful view of the valley down below. Facing the temple, you’ll be greeted by a bell pavilion which also acts as the entrance to the temple.
Immediately, you’ll be greeted by the large sized main hall which entirely conceals a multi-tiered surprise behind it. But more on that later. To the immediate left of the main hall are the monks’ living quarters, visitors centre, and the kitchen. As for the exterior of the main hall, it’s adorned with simplistic paintings of both the Palsang-do murals and the Shimu-do (Ox-Herding) murals. The latter is on top, while the former is on the bottom. As for the interior of the main hall, there’s a massive guardian painting as you enter the hall. As for the main altar, Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) sits in the centre with Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) to his right. The only other thing inside the main hall, besides floral paintings and a couple paintings of a white-clad Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), is a shrine of pictures dedicated to the dead. So be respectful while inside this main hall.
Stepping outside the main hall, and making your way to the rear of this structure, you’ll be greeted by an amazing sight. Up the sheer rock face of the mountain, and up a set of stairs both made out of the mountain as well as roof tiles, are a set of shrine halls. The first, up the long set of stairs, is the Gwaneeum-jeon. The exterior of this hall is adorned with another set of Shimu-do murals, which are even more finely crafted than the ones on the main hall. As for the interior, the hall is all but adorned, all but for the dancheong traditional paint scheme. However, the plainness of this interior is more than made up for by the altar. Sitting on the altar is a multi-armed and headed Gwanseeum-bosal. It’s one of the more impressive statues of this Bodhisattva that I’ve seen in quite some time.
Up another set of stairs, you’ll come to the final terrace, which houses the Geungnak-jeon. Mythical creatures, pastoral scenes of nature, deer, and crane adorn the exterior of this hall. It’s also from this vantage point that you get the most spectacular view of the temple and valley below. As for the interior of the hall, once more, it’s largely void of murals. However, sitting on the main altar are a triad of large golden statues that are quite stunning. Sitting in the centre is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He is joined by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Amita-bul’s Power and Wisdom).
The final hall, which is more like a shrine, is barely noticeable to the left of the Geungnak-jeon. All but for a final flight of stairs that leads up to this shrine, you might miss it all together. This shrine is dedicated to San shin (The Mountain Spirit). The design is rather unique, even if the glass encasement of this shaman deity is a bit underwhelming.
HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to the Goseong Bus Terminal, which is called the Goseong Yeogaek. From here, you’ll have to find a town bus, which is typically smaller than local buses, that goes to Daebeob-ri (대법리). The buses leave four times a day from Goseong, and it takes about 30 minutes to get to Daebeob-ri from Goseong. You’ll have to get off at the Daebeob-ri stop and walk the remaining 30 minutes to Gyeseungsa Temple. It’s a bit of a hike, and you might be able to catch a taxi from here, but don’t count on it.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The highlight to this temple are the views of the valley below both from the entrance gate, and especially from the Geungnak-jeon. But a close second is the sheer size of the main hall and the guardian mural that rests inside of this hall. In addition, the uniqueness of the terraced halls behind the main hall, as well as the amazingly graceful statue of Gwanseeum-bosal, make Gyeseungsa Temple a must see if you’re in the Goseong area.