The Story of…Chilbulam Hermitage

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The Seven Buddhas of Chilbulam Hermitage.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In yet another installment of The Story Of…, I thought I would next tell you about Chilbulam Hermitage on Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

I had long wanted to visit Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju because it’s littered with an endless amount of Buddhist artifacts like temples, hermitages, shrines, statues, and pagodas. So during the winter vacation of 2013, I decided I would finally explore parts of the historically important mountain. A week earlier, I had explored Samneung Valley on the other side of the mountain. So the following week, I decided I wanted to visit Chilbulam Hermitage and the famed Bodhisattva on the Rock Face above the hermitage.

And while I knew that the hike would be a bit of a strenuous one for me, as the hermitage lies two kilometres up the mountain, near the summit, I never imagined it to be that hard. The first kilometre and a half is rather easy, while the remaining 500 metres is rather strenuous (to put it mildly). Near the end of the hike, I think I might have been taking a break every 100 metres. Fortunately for me, and since it was the dead of winter, there weren’t many other hikers around so I could seem cool and collected when they passed by me.

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The long hike up renders these beautiful views of Gyeongju down below.

Finally cresting the mountain and arriving at Chilbulam Hermitage a bit out of breath and sweating profusely, I was greeted by, “Hello.” At first, I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, since I was only half aware of my surroundings due to exhaustion.

“Hello,” the voice said again, “would you like some tea?”

With the sweetest smile, and the simplest of words, I was able to spot the source of the sentence. From the main hall/nuns’ living quarters, I saw the shaved head of a Czech nun. Talk about surprising. The last thing I expected to hear, let alone see, was a foreigner just like me, especially since the hermitage is rather remote.

At first, I said, “Is it alright if I have a look around the hermitage?”

“Of course, take your time.”

Now, I didn’t say no because I didn’t want tea. I said no because I wanted to stop sweating first. I know, a bit of vanity. So after looking around the beautiful grounds at the seven Buddhas sculptures at the hermitage, I took the nun up on her offer.

So over a couple cups of tea and ddeok (Korean traditional rice cakes), we talked about Korean Buddhism, Korea, and driving in Korea (as she was just starting to drive in Korea).

Unfortunately, our conversation had to come to an end because the morning service was just about to start and the living quarters also act as the main hall at Chilbulam Hermitage. But before I left, she invited me back and wished me well in my exploration of the beautiful Bodhisattva on the Rock Face that overlooks the valley down below, as well as Chilbulam Hermitage.

Fortunately for me, and before I made my way back down the mountain, this meeting cured my weary legs.

Check out here to learn more about Chilbulam Hermitage.

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The Bodhisattva of the Rock Face above Chilbulam Hermitage.

Buinsa Temple – 부인사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The colourful temple courtyard at Buinsa Temple in Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Buinsa Temple was first established in the 7th century, during the reign of Queen Seondeok (r.632-647 A.D.). “Buin,” in English, is an honourific way to refer to a lady. So the temple means, in reference to Queen Seondeok, Lady Temple. As for the history of the temple, it was the former temple that housed the Tripitaka Koreana, which are wooden blocks that contain the Buddhist scriptures. However, this first set was destroyed in 1232 by the invading Mongols. They were later reconstructed between 1236 to 1251, and they are now stored at Haeinsa Temple, near Hapcheon, Gyeongsangnam-do.

You first approach Buinsa Temple up a single narrow road. You’ll first be greeted by a collection of stupas and stele out in front of a forest. This forest is where Buinsa Temple was formally located. If you swing to the right, and up an uneven set of stone stairs, you’ll see a collection of stone pieces that were part of the former temple buildings. You could head left up the road, but then you would miss these former remains, as well as a twin pair of pagodas. The pagoda to the left has been battered by time, while the pagoda to the right has an all new body placed on its ancient base.

In front of these pagodas is the Samgwang-ru. You’ll need to pass underneath this long hall to gain entrance to the temple courtyard. When I visited, the temple was fully adorned with beautiful and colourful paper lanterns hanging all throughout the temple courtyard.

Past this canopy of colour, and you’ll see the large main hall in front of it. Uniquely, the main hall is surrounded by paintings of numerous Nahan. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, are a set of statues centred by Seokagomoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s then joined by two more smaller sized Buddha statues; which, in turn, are book-ended by a pair of statues of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom), as well as Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the left of the main altar is a shrine for the dead, while hanging on the right wall is a rather plain guardian mural.

To the immediate right of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon. In front of this hall is a rather unique stone lantern. Instead of housing a chamber for a single candle, it has a twin chamber for two candles side-by-side. As for the Myeongbu-jeon Hall itself, and sitting on the main altar, is a bronze coloured Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s joined on either side of the altar by attendants. And the entire main altar is surrounded by ten uniquely sculpted statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Rather rarely, the Myeongbu-jeon Hall’s exterior is surrounded by the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals.

In between the main hall and the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, and to the rear, is the solitary Sanshin-gak. This newer hall is joined by beautiful flowers that were fully in bloom when I visited. The exterior has a cool looking tiger adorning the right side of the wall. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a beautiful Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural. The golden Sanshin is joined by seven tigers (six of which are babies). Additionally, Sanshin and the tigers are placed under a sun and a moon.

To the left of the main altar, but behind the monks’ quarters, is a hall that houses Chilseong (The Seven Stars) on the main altar. Chilseong is joined by Dokseong (The Recluse), who takes up residence on the far left wall. Both are then joined by very unique paintings and statues of the 16 Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha).

The only other building at Buinsa Temple is a shrine hall dedicated to Queen Seondeok, the namesake of the temple. Unfortunately, this building was off-limits, as it was locked. However, you can see the beautiful murals that surround the hall of Queen Seondeok. This hall is to the far left as you first approach the temple courtyard.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Dong Daegu Intercity Bus Terminal, you should take bus #101-1 (heading to Pagyesa Temple). When you arrive at Pagyesa Temple, after 27 stops, you’ll then have to catch bus #Palgong 3. In total, you’ll only have to take this bus for 2 stops. You’ll be dropped off across from Buinsa Temple. After being dropped off, you’ll have to walk about 5 to 10 minutes, or 439 metres, to Buinsa Temple.


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OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Buinsa Temple is filled with a few nice surprises like the hall dedicated to Queen Seondeok. And if you’re lucky enough to visit Buinsa Temple during Buddha’s birthday, you’ll see the beautiful paper lanterns overhead in the temple courtyard. Additionally, the beautiful shaman hall, as well as the unique Sanshin painting make for yet another beautiful temple to visit on Mt. Palgongsan in Daegu.

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The stupas and stele that sit out in front of the temple.

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What remains of the old temple masonry.

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The beautiful stone lantern and pagoda that rest just out in front of the temple courtyard.

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Underneath the Samgwang-ru Hall, and you’ll gain admittance to Buinsa Temple.

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Again, some more of the colourful paper lanterns that decorate the temple courtyard.

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A look at the beautiful temple courtyard with the main hall to the right.

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The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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To the right of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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Inside, and resting on the main altar, is the bronze coloured Jijang-bosal.

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The beautiful view from the Myeongbu-jeon to the Daeung-jeon.

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Behind both buildings, and to the right, is the Sanshin-gak.

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Housed inside this shaman hall is this elaborate painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and seven tigers.

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The beautiful view of the Sanshin-gak and the well manicured grounds at Buinsa Temple.

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The shaman hall to the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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Sitting on the main altar is Chilseong (The Seven Stars).

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The beautiful view from the shaman hall.

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To the far left is a shrine hall dedicated to Queen Seondeok.

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 The hall that’s dedicated to Queen Seondeok. If you look close enough, you can see murals that portray her.

The Story of…Beopjusa Temple

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Before the rain started to fall at Beopjusa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In an all new segment on the blog, I thought I would give some of the back stories behind my travels to various temples and hermitages around the Korean peninsula ever since I started exploring them back in 2003. Some of the stories are funny, some are warm, and some are even absurd. So follow me as I go beyond the pictures, maps, and descriptions, as I explore Korean temples at their best.

During my summer vacation in 2011, I decided to visit a handful of temples on the northern end of the Korean peninsula. One of those temples was Beopjusa Temple in Boeun-Gun, Chungcheongbuk-do, and it’s the first story that really stands out.

Earlier in the day, in early August, we had already visited Buseoksa Temple in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Pushing our luck, my wife and I decided to attempt to see Beopjusa Temple, as well. Keep in mind, we had passed by numerous nice hotels and the sky was blue when we left Buseoksa Temple.

When we arrived at Beopjusa Temple a couple hours later, and unbeknownst to us, there just so happened to be the provincial track and field meet at Songnisan National Park, which is where Beopjusa Temple is situated. At first glance, it didn’t seem all that bad. But not long after, when we went to book a hotel room, they were all sold out. So we went to the next: sold out. And the next: sold out. We got to the point where the only hotel left to us was this really run down motel, and they had one room left that had no beds. So for a marked up 60,000 won a night, we could sleep on the floor. I quickly nixed that one. With no other option but to see Beopjusa Temple and then find a hotel afterwards, we resigned ourselves to this fate.

So still with all our gear in our car, we decided to make our way towards Beopjusa Temple after having parked the car in the parking lot, which was a good 700 metres away from the admittance gate at Beopjusa Temple.

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The batteries are out, and I had to switch to the back-up camera at Beopjusa Temple.

 Making the most of the beautiful summer weather, we started to explore the temple grounds. After a couple of pictures, the battery on the camera was running low. Rooting through my camera bag, I was sure that I had packed the second battery pack. Wrong! It was nowhere to be found. So after our new camera ran out of its battery at the Palsang-jeon pagoda, and somewhat fortunately for me, I used the older camera that my wife thoughtfully brought with her. However, the quality of the pictures quickly went from an A+ with the new camera, down to a C- with the old.

And finally, to add insult to injury, the previously bright sky quickly became overcast and started to lightly rain. Believing we had enough time to explore the rest of the temple, since we had only seen about half of it, we pushed on. Near the end, and after seeing the lion-based lantern that dates back to 720 A.D., the sky opened up and the rain started to fall heavily. No more than two hundred metres into our sprint back to our car, we were already soaked. Finding a bit of respite under a bus shelter, I told my wife to wait with the cameras, as I made my way back to the car. When I finally did arrive at the car, it was like I had taken a shower with my clothes on.

After rescuing my wife, and still soaked, we still had to find somewhere to sleep. So while Beopjusa Temple is one of the most beautiful temples in all of Korea, nothing quite went right in my adventure to this revered temple.

To learn more about Beopjusa Temple, check out here.

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The clouds started to get stormy!

Donghwasa Temple – 동화사 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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A sunlit day at Donghwasa Temple in Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Donghwasa Temple was first built in 493 A.D. by the monk, Geukdal-jonja. The temple, which is on the southern side of Mt.Palgongsan, was first named Yugasa Temple. Donghwasa Temple was later rebuilt during the reign of King Heungdeok (r.826-836) by Simji in 832. It was during this time that the name of the temple changed to its present name: Donghwasa Temple. The name of the temple means “Paulownia Blossom Temple,” in English. According to legend, this name comes from the reconstruction of the temple in 832. During its reconstruction, even during the dead of winter, wild paulownia trees bloomed all around Donghwasa Temple.

You first approach Donghwasa Temple up a long, newly paved, road. Your first encounter with the temple is the large Cheonwangmun Gate, which houses the Four Heavenly Kings. These kings are rather unique in both their design and colours. After paying and passing through this gate, you’ll continue towards the temple grounds, as you pass by a pond to your left.

Finally, you’ll come to a clearing, and you’ll notice yet another Cheonwangmun Gate to your left. You can either head left or right at this point, but I would suggest that you head left before heading right. Inside the Cheonwangmun Gate are a rather plump collection of the Four Heavenly Kings. And they are trampling under their feet some of the most demonic demons in all of Korea.

Continuing towards the main hall, you’ll next come to the Bongseoru Hall. This hall is named after a phoenix (bonghwang). On either side of the stairs that lead under this hall are a set of railings designed like dragons. In the centre are a pair of stone phoenixes with a pair of circular stone balls. These marble stones resemble a Yeouiji, which is associated with dragons. And to the right of these stairs is the temple’s elevated bell pavilion.

Having finally ascended these stairs, you’ll finally be standing in the temple courtyard. Straight ahead, and under a canopy of paper lanterns (I visited around Buddha’s birthday), you’ll see the large main hall, the Daeung-jeon, straight ahead. The exterior walls to this hall are surrounded by various paintings included the Shimu-do, Ox-herding, murals. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, you’ll see Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) sitting in the centre. He’s joined by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) to the left and Yaksayore-bul (The Buddha of Medicine) to the right.

To the left rear of the main hall, and up a set of stairs, you’ll first come to the Josa-jeon Hall, which houses portraits of important monks of Donghwasa Temple like Samyeong-daesa and Geukdal. Behind this hall is the newly built Chilseong-gak, which houses beautiful new painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). And immediately behind the main hall is the Sanshin-gak. Inside this hall is a nice looking mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

Retracing your steps back to where you first forked to the left, instead of heading right; now head towards the right. Down a long set of stairs, you’ll come to an artificial pond with a beautiful set of cascading falls. A bit further along, and past the elevated monument dedicated to the priest Inak to your left, you’ll come to a bend in the path that heads towards the centerpiece at Donghwasa Temple.

Up one more set of zigzagging stairs that run next to the temple’s museum, you’ll finally come to the 30 metre tall stone statue of Yaksayore-bul (The Buddha of Medicine). This massive stone Buddha statue was created in hopes of one day unifying the Korean peninsula, and it was completed in November, 1992. The statue is joined, out in front, by a beautiful fountain with Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) crowning it. To the left, and still in front of the massive Buddha, are two equally massive stone pagodas that measure 17 metres in height and stone lanterns that measure an equally impressive 7.6 metres in height. Surrounding the Buddha, in a semi-circle of stone, are stone statues of guardians, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. And inside this stone enclosure, and underground, is the Seon meditation centre at Donghwasa Temple. The entire area is one of the most impressive sights that you’ll see at a Korean temple for its sheer size and beauty.

Admission to Donghwasa Temple is 2,500 won for adults. And the temple is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Seobu (west) Intercity Bus Terminal in Daegu, you’ll need to take the subway, line 1, that heads towards Anshim and get off at Ahyanggyo Station. From here, take Express Bus #1. The ride will take you about 35 minutes, and it brings you right to the temple.


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OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10. Donghwasa Temple is the most impressive temples on Mt. Palgongsan, and Korea for that matter. With its history accented by the beautiful main hall, the grounds, and the massive 17 metre tall stone statue of Yaksayore-bul, and you’ll have more than enough reason to visit Daegu and Donghwasa Temple.

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As you approach the beautiful temple courtyard.

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The Cheongwangmun Gate in the foreground.

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One of the demons being trampled under foot inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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In the background, and at the end of the colourful paper lanterns, is the Bongseoru Hall.

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The tall bell pavilion at Donghwasa Temple.

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The set of stairs that lead to the temple courtyard.

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A look up at the main hall with pink paper lotus flowers swinging in the breeze.

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Another great look up at the Daeung-jeon.

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Inside the main hall. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined by Amita-bul and Yaksayore-bul.

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A beautiful view of the main hall and the colourful temple courtyard.

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The Josa-jeon Hall at Donghwasa Temple.

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The newer looking Chilseong-gak, which is behind the Josa-jeon Hall.

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A look inside the Chilsenog-gak at the main altar and Chilseong (The Seven Stars).

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Directly behind the main hall is the Sanshin-gak.

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As you head towards the 30 metre tall statue of Yaksayore-bul, you’ll first have to cross this beautiful bridge and cascading falls.

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A closer looking at the cascading waterfall.

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The path that leads you to Yaksayore-bul.

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Your first look up at the massive statue and neighbouring stone lantern. One is 30 metres tall, while the other is 7.6 metres.

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A great look up at the shrine.

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The surrounding semi-circle of stone statues of guardians, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas.

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A colourful look up at the Buddha during his birthday.

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A closer look at serenity.

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A look at the descriptive water fountain.

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One last look at the shrine before it was time to go.

Bogyeongsa Temple – 보경사 (Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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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.


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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.

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The first colourful Iljumun Gate at Bogyeongsa Temple.

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And the second under a canopy of trees and along a swept pathway.

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The Cheonwangmun Gate at Bogyeongsa Temple.

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One of the fierce Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) inside the Cheonwangmun Gate.

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And the demented demon that he’s trampling under foot.

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The three tier pagoda that dates back to 1023 A.D.

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A good look at the Daejeokgwang-jeon with paper lanterns all around in preparation for Buddha’s birthday.

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The older looking wooden Haetae outside the Daejeokgwang-jeon entrance.

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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.

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A look over at the Daeung-jeon from the upper courtyard.

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A look inside the main hall reveals Seokgamoni-bul in the centre. He’s flanked on either side by Mireuk-bosal and Jaehwagalra-bosal.

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The upper courtyard with a row of five halls.

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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.

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And inside the Sanshin-gak is this beautiful golden Sanshin mural.

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Next to the Sanshin-gak is the Josa-jeon. And inside you’ll see this sight adorning the main altar.

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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.

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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.

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A closer look at just one, of the ten, murals that depicts one of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.

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The view of the temple courtyard as I make my way towards the Waterfall Kingdom behind Bogyeongsa Temple.

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The beautiful and lush forest you’ll walk through to get to some of the most beautiful sights in all of Korea.

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The twin falls at Sangsaeng Waterfall.

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The caved dotted landscape that surrounds Yeonsang Waterfall. Overhead, you can see the suspension bridge that leads to…

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The view of the 30 metre tall Gwaneeum Waterfall.

Jangyusa Temple – 장유사 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

CSC_2474The view of the main hall and Samseong-gak hall at Jangyusa Temple in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Jangyusa Temple is named after the famous monk Jangyu. Jangyu just so happened to be the brother of Queen Heo, who just so happened to be the wife of King Suro. Jangyu is largely credited with spreading Buddhism throughout the Gaya Kingdom (42 A.D. – 562 A.D.).

Located on the west side of Gimhae, and looking new in appearance, Jangyusa Temple has a long and rich history. You first approach the temple up a very scenic mountainside road. While you’re at the base of the mountain, you’ll see the beautiful Jangyu waterfall. Unfortunately, when I visited the temple, the waterfall was running dry.

Having finally arrived at the temple parking lot, you’ll first be greeted by a very large golden statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s situated on an elevated shrine where people can pray. He’s joined on either side by six life-size statues of himself in granite.

To the left of this shrine, and after you’ve passed by the trail head that takes a kilometer to get to the top of the mountain, is the Cheonwangmun Gate. With fading paintings of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Biseon around its exterior walls, the second floor of this structure acts as the temple’s bell pavilion. On the first floor are the four Heavenly Kings. Very unique, and somewhat disproportionate in design, the four Heavenly Kings, with their eyes bulging, protect the temple from evil spirits. As for the second floor of this structure, it houses all the percussion instructions for daily services.

Having passed through the Cheonwangmun Gate, you’ll enter into the temple courtyard. This spacious, but lesser populated, courtyard houses four temple structures. To the far left is a new temple building that’s just under construction. Next to this hall are the monks’ facilities like the kitchen and dorms. It’s also from this vantage point that you can see some beautiful views of the city of Gimhae down below in the rolling folds of the mountains.

To the right of these buildings is the large main hall. Surrounding the exterior walls are the fading Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. And crowning the hall is a broken black dragon whose ceramic spine runs the entire length of the roof. As for the interior, and as you first enter the main hall, you’ll see a skillfully executed Shinjung Taenghwa painting. Additionally, one of the first things you’ll notice is that the interior is filled with smaller sized statues of Jijang-bosal. As for the main altar, and sitting front and centre, is 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). And to the left is a shrine for the dead.

Between both the main hall and the monks’ quarters is the modern looking Samseong-gak. The front façade of the building is adorned with the four Heavenly Kings. And the building itself is adorned with various murals like a tiger and deer. As for the interior, and sitting in the centre of the three shaman paintings is a large, elaborate painting of Chilseong. It’s one of the best that I’ve seen in Korea. To the right is a typical Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) painting. And to the left is a beautiful painting dedicated to Dokseong (The Recluse), who sits under a bright setting sun. The final painting in the hall is to the far right and it’s of Jangyu. I’ve only ever seen a painting of Jangyu inside a hall at the neighbouring Buljosa Temple in Gimhae.

The final area of interest at the temple is situated behind the main hall. Situated up a slight embankment is a budo that houses the remains of Jangyu. The budo is situated under a beautiful red pine and it’s joined by other budos, as well. So don’t leave this hidden area off your things to see at the temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: With there being very little public transportation in this newer part of western Gimhae, it’s virtually impossible to get to Jangyusa Temple without a car. So with that being said, unless you have a car and a good GPS system, you’ll find it extremely hard to find Jangyusa Temple in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do.


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OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Jangyusa Temple is rather remotely situated; however, the views are part of what make up for this isolation. Additionally, the large and beautiful Chilseong painting, as well as the Jangyu painting and his remains make this temple a good little day trip especially if you pack a picnic and enjoy it around the neighbouring waterfall (hopefully, it’ll have water).

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The Cheonwangmun Gate and the Bell Pavilion with the golden Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Afterlife).

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The triad of turtle-based steles that welcome you to the temple.

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The largest Jijang-bosal statue that I’ve seen that sits in the centre of the outdoor shrine.

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A closer look at Jijang-bosal.

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Two, of the four, Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) inside the entrance gate.

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A look around the courtyard at Jangyusa Temple with the main hall to the right, the monk quarters to the left, and the Samseong-gak shrine hall above that.

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The view from Jangyusa Temple.

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A better look at the main hall at Jangyusa Temple.

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A great look at the intricate artwork along the main hall.

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The stunning floral latticework and sinister Nathwi that adorn the main hall at Jangyusa Temple.

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A look inside the main hall at the main altar to the left.

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A closer look at the guardian mural inside the main hall.

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The pathway that leads up to the budo that houses the sari (earthly remains) of the monk, Jangyu.

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A look at the Jangyu budo with the main hall in the background.

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A look up at the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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The stunning, and massive, Chilseong (Seven Stars) mural.

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The right corner inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall with Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) to the left and a mural of Jangyu to the right

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The waterless waterfall at Jangyu.