The twin falls of Sangsaeng Waterfall at Bogyeongsa Temple in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!!
Continuing with my exploration of Gyeongsangbuk-do, and working my way north, I decided to visit Bogyeongsa Temple in northern Pohang this past weekend. And with every step that I took at Bogyeongsa Temple, it impressed me that much more.
The temple was first built in 603 A.D., during the 25th year of King Jinpyeong reign. Daedeok Jimyeong, a Buddhist high priest who returned to the Silla Kingdom after studying in China, said to King Jinpyeong, “If you discover a auspicious site from a famous mountain on the east coast, bury Palmyeonbogyeong [which is a scripture], and build a Buddhist temple, you will be able to prevent Japanese pirates from invading the Silla Kingdom, and you will unify the Three Kingdoms.” The king was glad and went north along the coast passing Pohang. He saw a mountain covered with clouds in five colors. That mountain was Mt. Naeyeonsan. And this is where the king buried the scriptures and founded Bogyeongsa Temple. The word “bogueong” means scripture in English. And this is where the temple gets its name. Purportedly, this scripture is buried under the Daejeokgwang-jeon. In total, there are four hermitages that surround this larger temple like Munsuam Hermitage and Bohyunam Hermitage, but none are really worth a visit.
When you first arrive at Bogyeongsa Temple, and before you make your way past the ticket booth, you’ll be greeted by a very colourful Iljumun Gate. Once you’ve passed by this gate, and the ticket booth, you’ll be greeted by a second Iljumun Gate, as well as a canopy of beautiful trees that stand closely in a row.
At the bend in the path, you’ll see a bridge and the rest of Bogyeongsa Temple behind it. The first structure to greet you on the temple grounds is the Cheonwangmun Gate that houses four artfully rendered wooden sculptures of the Four Heavenly Kings. And they are trampling under their feet four equally artistic demon sculptures. Past this gate, and before you come to the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a simple pagoda. This three tier pagoda dates back to 1023 A.D., and it uniquely has two sculpted handles placed on both the north and south face of the pagoda. Inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon Hall sits a triad of statues. Seated in the centre sits Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). And he’s flanked on either side by the Indian-inspired, and feminine-looking, statues of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). The entire interior of the hall is adorned with crystal statues of Birojana-bul, as well as a guardian mural that hangs on the right wall. As for the exterior, there are beautiful pastoral paintings, as well as a set of wooden Haetae statues that sit at the base of the hall entrance.
Past this hall, and climbing the stairs to the upper courtyard, you’ll see the Daeung-jeon main hall. This rather large main hall has a triad of statues that sit on the main hall. They are Seokgamoni-bul in the centre, and he’s joined to the right by Mireuk-bosal (The Future Buddha)and Jaehwagalra-bosal (The Past Buddha) to the left. On the right wall hangs a guardian mural. And surrounding the exterior walls to the main hall are some more beautiful pastoral paintings.
Behind the main hall sits a row of five halls. The hall to the far right is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall that houses Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s joined by the Ten Kings of the Underworld and ten stunning depictions of these kings in the underworld that they rule over.
Next to this hall is the Sanryeong-gak which houses rows of the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha), as well as a triad of statues on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined to the right by the blue tiger riding Munsu-bosal and to the left by the white elephant riding Bohyun-bosal.
And next to this hall is the Josa-jeon Hall, which houses paintings of prominent monks at the temple like Samyeong-daesa and Wonjin-guksa. Additionally, there’s a rather peculiar plaster appearing statue of Wonjin-guksa on the main altar inside this hall.
The final two halls at the temple are the Sanshin-gak and the Palsang-jeon. Inside the Sanshin-gak is a beautiful golden painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). And next to it, and the last in the line of five halls, is the Palsang-jeon that houses the eight scenes from the historical Buddha’s life. Sitting on the main altar is an all white Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined to the right by the purple crowned Mireuk-bosal and to the left by Jaehwagalra-bosal.
Perhaps the most spectacular part about this temple are the thirteen waterfalls that are located behind Bogyeongsa Temple, and up a valley. The further you go, the more impressive the waterfalls become until you finally arrive at the sixth and seventh waterfall. Yeonsang Waterfall is situated behind the pitted face of Gwaneeum Waterfall, and it stands 30 metres in height. In total, the journey there and back to these falls is 7 kilometres, so pack your hiking boots.
Admission to the temple is 2,500 won, and it’s open from sunrise to sunset.
HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to the Pohang Intercity Bus Terminal. Across from the bus terminal is a bus stop where the #510 Bogyeongsa (보경사) bus goes to the temple. However, this shouldn’t be confused with the other #510 bus. Only take the one that reads “Bogyeongsa” on it. The bus ride will take you about an hour and it leaves every hour.
OVERALL RATING: 9/10. The more I explored both Bogyeongsa Temple and the valley of waterfalls that lay behind it, the more impressed I was by this temple. On its own, the numerous halls that populate Bogyeongsa Temple make a trip north of Pohang worth it. But when you add into the mix the best that Korea has to offer in the way of nature, and you’ll understand why this temple is a must in the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do. However, be warned, this destination is also highly popular with Koreans, as well.
The first colourful Iljumun Gate at Bogyeongsa Temple.
And the second under a canopy of trees and along a swept pathway.
The Cheonwangmun Gate at Bogyeongsa Temple.
One of the fierce Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.
And the demented demon that he’s trampling under foot.
The three tier pagoda that dates back to 1023 A.D.
A good look at the Daejeokgwang-jeon with paper lanterns all around in preparation for Buddha’s birthday.
The older looking wooden Haetae outside the Daejeokgwang-jeon entrance.
A look inside the Daejeokgwang-jeon at the main altar. In the centre sits Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s flanked on either side by Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal.
A look over at the Daeung-jeon from the upper courtyard.
A look inside the main hall reveals Seokgamoni-bul in the centre. He’s flanked on either side by Mireuk-bosal and Jaehwagalra-bosal.
The upper courtyard with a row of five halls.
Inside the first hall, the Palsang-jeon, you’ll see this altar as well as eight surrounding murals that depict the Historical Buddha’s life.
And inside the Sanshin-gak is this beautiful golden Sanshin mural.
Next to the Sanshin-gak is the Josa-jeon. And inside you’ll see this sight adorning the main altar.
Next to the Josa-jeon is the Sanryeong-gak. Inside, you’ll see a couple rows of Nahan, as well as this colourful main altar with Seokgamoni-bul in the centre being joined by two white glad Bodhisattvas: Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal.
The beautiful main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon with Jijang-bosal to the left and some of the Ten Kings of the Underworld to the right: both statues and paintings.
A closer look at just one, of the ten, murals that depicts one of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.
The view of the temple courtyard as I make my way towards the Waterfall Kingdom behind Bogyeongsa Temple.
The beautiful and lush forest you’ll walk through to get to some of the most beautiful sights in all of Korea.
The twin falls at Sangsaeng Waterfall.
The caved dotted landscape that surrounds Yeonsang Waterfall. Overhead, you can see the suspension bridge that leads to…
The view of the 30 metre tall Gwaneeum Waterfall.