Wonhyoam Hermitage – 원효암 (Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The view from behind the main hall at Wonhyoam Hermitage in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the far eastern slopes of Mt. Palgongsan, tucked away in a valley fold, lies Wonhyoam Hermitage (which should not be confused with the more famous Wonhyoam Hermitages in Busan or Yangsan).

Up a zig-zagging road, you’ll finally come to a ledge that acts as the hermitage’s parking lot. It’s just past a sandy cliff that you’ll arrive at Wonhyoam Hermitage. When you first approach the diminutive hermitage, you’ll notice the amazing views from the valley below.

When you get your fill of the views, you’ll first encounter an old storage shed that must be several hundred years old and is still used to the present day. After circumnavigating this natural wood building, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the beautiful new main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are decorated with some of the more beautiful Shimu-do murals in all of Korea. As for the interior, and housed upon the main altar, sits a solitary statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). To the right and left of the main altar are two red murals. One of these murals is the guardian mural, while the other is dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

Just past the hermitage’s kitchen and dorms, and slightly up an embankment, sits the temple’s Sanshin/Dokseong-gak. This shaman shrine hall houses a very impressive Sanshin mural. The elderly looking Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) is standing on a ledge with a staff firmly in hand. He is joined by a dongja (assistant) and arguably either Sanshin’s wife, a female Sanshin, or simply another dongja. This painting is joined to the right by an older style Dokseong mural.

The entire hermitage, especially in the fall, is beautifully framed by colourful autumnal hues.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongsan Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch Bus #803. After 64 stops, you can get off at the Solmaegi stop. You’ll need to walk an additional 15 minutes to get to the hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. Wonhyoam Hermitage, like the other Wonhyoam Hermitages in Korea, is beautifully, but remotely, located. Because of its remoteness, it is serenely located. In addition to its beautiful location and views, Wonhyoam Hermitage has one of the most masterfully executed murals dedicated to Sanshin in Korea. So if you have the time, and you’re up for the hike along Mt. Palgongsan, you should make Wonhyoam Hermitage a stop along your way.

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The view from the hermitage parking lot.

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The amazing view as you first approach Wonhyoam Hermitage.

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The old storage building at the hermitage.

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The main hall at Wonhyoam Hermitage.

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A beautiful Shimu-do mural that decorates the main hall.

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A look inside the main hall at Amita-bul on the main altar.

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The guardian mural also housed inside the main hall.

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The intricately painted main hall.

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The plainly painted Sanshin/Dokseong-gak.

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The view from the shaman shrine hall.

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The Sanshin mural.

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The older Dokseong mural.

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A look around the main hall at some of the fall colours.

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