The stunning seven tier pagoda hall at Yeongsanjeongsa Temple.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Up a very long country road, you’ll finally arrive at Yeongsanjeongsa Temple on the northwestern outskirts of Miryang. And with it placed not too far from my town, I thought I would explore yet another of Gyeongsangnam-do’s hidden treasures. However, long before you ever come close to the temple grounds, you’ll be able to spot a gorgeous structure reaching up towards the sky. This structure, which dominates the temple grounds, is the seven tier pagoda hall.
The first thing to greet you at the temple is a rather non-descript Iljumun Gate. After passing through this, you’ll be greeted by a couple of stone spiritual guardian poles. Finally, you’ll have arrived at the rather spacious temple courtyard. To your immediate left is a large building that acts as the monks’ dorms, kitchen, and visitors’ centre. And to the right of this modern looking building is a beautiful statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). He’s surrounded by a shallow pool of water and two attendants that are standing chin deep in the water.
Housed between the statue of Gwanseeum-bosal and the Myeongbu-jeon hall is the amazing seven tier pagoda hall. It is remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, it acts as a sort of museum for the temple. Around the concrete pagoda are various Buddhist statues and vases. Inside the pagoda (which is 2,000 won to enter), and on the first floor, is a hall filled with prominent historical monks throughout the ages in Korean history. Also, there are numerous large statues on the first floor. On the second floor there are numerous paintings from various temples in the area. And on the third floor are a world record setting amount of sari, monks remains, which occupy the entire floor in display cases. And on the fourth floor, the final floor to display anything, are numerous Buddhist statues. Finally, on the fifth and final floor that you can explore, is a bit of an observation area that you can see the temple and surrounding valley below.
The two main halls at the temple are next to the seven tier concrete pagoda. When we arrived, they were preparing for Buddha’s birthday, so a canopy of colourful paper lanterns had already been mounted. They were framed by a pair of rather plain looking nine tier stone pagodas.
On the left is another concrete hall at Yeongsanjeongsa Temple. This time, it’s the Myeongbu-jeon hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The exterior of the hall is adorned with very simplistic paintings of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. They must have been saving their money on these paintings, because the paintings inside of this hall are some of the most original I’ve ever seen in all of Korea. Sitting on the long altar are seven statues of Jijang-bosal backed by amazing paintings of this Bodhisattva with various depictions of hell at their base. To the far left is a wall of gold to commemorate the dead, while on the right is a stunning painting that depicts the various stages of the journey from hell to heaven (very Dantesque).
Between the Myeongbu-jeon and the main hall is a man-made waterfall that houses what looks to be a moon rock carving of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on it. Surrounding the exterior of the main hall are the Palsang-do paintings that depict the ten stages of the historical Buddha’s life. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, are five of Korea’s most original paintings of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In the centre is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He is flanked by Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) to the left and to the right is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And on the farthest two sides from the centre are Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) on the far right side and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) on the far left. The spacious main hall has a newer looking painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) on the far right wall and the temple’s guardian painting.
As a bit of a side note, the temple is a couple of kilometers away from the birthplace of Sa-myeong-daesa, the warrior monk. Admission to the temple is free.
HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to Yeongsanjeongsa Temple only by first arriving in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do. From the Inter-City Bus Terminal in Miryang, you’ll have to catch the “Seogeojyeong” bus. The bus ride will take you around 40 minutes, and you’ll have to get off at the Seogeojyeong stop. From this stop, you’ll have to walk about 10 minutes to get to the temple. It’ll be easy enough to see because the top of the pagoda protrudes forth from the valley.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10. For the seven tier pagoda hall itself, this hall is rated as highly as it is. Added to it are the contents of the pagoda as well as the interior of the Myeongbu-jeon and the main hall, and it only adds to the temple’s overall rating.