Daedunsa Temple – 대둔사 (Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The temple courtyard at Daedunsa Temple in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Daedunsa Temple is located east of Mt. Bokwoosan in northern Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do. The temple is believed to have first been established in 446 A.D. by the famed monk, Ado. This very same monk built the first Silla Dynasty temple, Dorisa Temple. In 1231, Daedunsa Temple was completely destroyed by fire by the invading Mongols. The temple was rebuilt during the reign of King Chungryeol (r.1274-1308). Not long after the Imjin War (1592-98), in 1606, the warrior monk, Samyeong-daesa, enlarged Daedunsa Temple to house 10,000 warrior monks if a war should arise, once more, with the Japanese. Now, while not quite as large as it once was, Daedunsa Temple gives you an insight into its former glory.

You first approach the temple up a steep incline. It’s along this incline, in a rather remote part of Korea, that I saw my first wild deer. Nearing the temple’s parking lot, a young deer skittered across the long entry to the temple. To the right of the large stone retaining wall, and up a set of stairs, you’ll stand in the centre of the temple courtyard.

Straight ahead stands the temple’s main hall. This hall was constructed in the late 1600’s. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with guardian murals. Stepping inside the hall, you’ll notice a lone Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) statue sitting under a tall, red canopy. The statue dates back to Late Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The head and body of the statue are made of dry lacquer, while the hands are made from wood. This is one of the very few lacquer statues in Korea, and it also just so happens to be Treasure #1633. To the right of the main altar hangs a guardian painting. And between both the main altar and the guardian mural is an older-looking Amita-bul mural.

To the left of the main hall, and slightly up an embankment past an old, gnarled tree, is the temple’s Samseong-gak. It’s inside this hall that you get to look at an older set of shaman murals. The tiger with its intimidating eyes inside the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural, as well as the white spider crawling over Dokseong (The Lonely Saints) right ear, are something to look for while inside this hall.

Directly to the right of the main hall is Daedunsa Temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Uniquely, there are the twelve zodiac generals adorning the exterior walls to this hall. Housed inside this dimly lit hall, and resting on the main altar, is a golden statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Jijang-bosal is backed by a beautiful wooden relief of himself, as well as the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Other statues inside this hall are ten seated statues of the kings, as well as two fierce Vajra warriors at either entry. Adorning the interior walls are murals dedicated to the Ten Kings and the worlds they rule over in the Underworld, as well as a Dragon Ship of Wisdom mural.

Perched to the far right, and past a field of vegetables, is the Nahan-jeon Hall. While largely unadorned on the exterior walls, all but for the fading, and unrecognizable murals near the top of the eaves, it’s what’s inside that matters most about this temple hall. Resting on the main altar is a triad of unusual looking statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). They are surrounded on both sides by rather large wooden statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gumi Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to catch a bus bound for Angye Bus Terminal. The trip should last one hour and cost 6,300 won. From Angye Bus Terminal, you’ll next need to take a taxi to Daedunsa Temple. The ride should take about 40 minutes and cost about 18,000 won. Of course, the best option is a personal car, but this isn’t always an option for an expat.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. While lacking one keynote feature, Daedunsa Temple is an accumulation of features for temple adventurers to enjoy. They start with the main hall itself and leads in towards the 14th century Amita-bul statue. Other interesting features around the temple are the shaman murals, as well as the statues inside the Nahan-jeon. And who knows, if you‘re lucky like me, you might just see a wild deer running through the surrounding forests at Daedunsa Temple.

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The entry at Daedunsa Temple where I saw the wild deer.

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The tall, stone retaining wall at the temple.

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The main hall at Daedunsa Temple.

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The main altar inside the main hall with the 14th century Amita-bul statue front and centre.

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 The guardian mural inside the main hall.

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The older-looking Amita-bul painting inside the main hall.

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And an older image of Yongwang (The Dragon King) inside the above mural, as well.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Daedunsa Temple.

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The amazing Sanshin mural at Daedunsa Temple.

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The guardian paintings that adorn the late 17th century main hall.

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A picture of Jijang-bosal inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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An up-close with one of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.

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One of the fierce-looking Vajra warriors.

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The Nahan-jeon at Daedunsa Temple.

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Inside the Nahan-jeon.

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