Inside the cave shrine at Sanbanggulsa Temple in Seogwipo, Jeju-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Just behind Bomunsa Temple on Mt. Sanbangsan in Jeju-do sits a cave temple called Sanbanggulsa Temple. Just to the right, and up some stairs, you’ll make your way towards the largest cave temple I have yet to see in Korea. Along the way, you get some spectacular and gorgeous views of the South Sea off in the distance.
One hundred and fifty metres in distance, the climb is moderate with several plateaus along the way so that you can catch your breath. Interestingly, each plateau, according to legend, is symbolic for vastly different reasons. While one plateau, and its rocks, is for childbirth, another might be for eternal love. There are Korean and English signs along the way to help you discover what each plateau is meant to represent.
Finally cresting that ridge that houses Sanbanggulsa Temple, you’ll be greeted by the yawning cave entrance that is at least ten metres in height. Along the face of the cave are ancient Chinese characters. Some, you might wonder, how they even got there because of their height. Up a set of stairs, and past the people praying, is the main altar that houses the solitary statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Several metres in height, this black statue appears to be made from volcanic rock which is in abundance in Jeju-do. In addition, there is water dripping from the roof of the cave that visitors can drink from the pooling water below the Buddha.
There are spectacular views that can be enjoyed from these heights. Also, you get some great views up at the volcanic Sanbangsan mountain with its many crevices and cracks. Unfortunately, this is farthest you can go up this mountain that has a peak like a dome.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Seogwipo Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take bus #702 for 22 stops. The ride should last about an hour and eleven minutes, and you’ll need to get off at the Sanbangsan bus stop. From this stop, you’ll need to make your way to the right of Bomunsa Temple. Behind the large golden statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul is a set of stairs that leads all the way up to Sanbanggulsa Temple. It’s a 150 metre climb up these stairs to the cave temple.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Without a doubt, Sanbanggulsa Temple is the largest cave temple I’ve visited in Korea. Also, there are spectacular views of both the South Sea and Mt. Sanbangsan as you make your way towards the temple. As for the temple itself, there isn’t all that much to see, but the scenery makes up for any shortcomings.
The view just as you pass by the neighbouring Bomunsa Temple.
A look out towards the South Sea.
Yet another spectacular view, as you make your way towards Sanbanggulsa Temple.
A look up at the only shrine at Sanbanggulsa Temple.
The view from the heights.
Some of the Chinese characters etched on the face of the mountain.
A look up towards the peak of the mountain.
A closer look at Seokgamoni-bul.
The amazing view that Seokgamoni-bul gets to enjoy!
One last look before heading back.