Sudasa Temple – 수다사 (Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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 The jovial dharma that greets you at Sudasa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Sudasa Temple, in Gumi, Gyeongsangbuk-do, is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Giyangsan. Sudasa Temple was first called Yeonhwasa Temple, which means “Lotus Flower Temple.” It was founded by Jingam-guksa during the reign of Silla King Munseong (r. 839-857). The temple was named Yeonhwasa Temple because Jingam-guksa saw a lotus in full bloom on neighbouring Mt. Yeonaksan. Tragically, the temple was destroyed by fire. However, it was rebuilt in 1185 by the monk Gakwon-daesa. At this time, the temple was renamed Seongamsa Temple. But in 1273, the temple, once more, was destroyed; this time, by floods. The temple was rebuilt in the middle of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) by the famed monks Seosan-daesa and Samyeong-daesa. It was at this time that the temple was renamed Sudasa Temple. In 1684, all but for the Myeongbu-jeon Hall at the temple, all other buildings were destroyed by fire. Now, Sudasa Temple has a handful of temple halls.

When you first approach the temple, after passing the simplistic Iljumun Gate, you’ll arrive at the temple parking lot and the fattest and most jovial stone dharma you’ll ever see is waiting to greet you. It’s past this stone statue, and up a set of stairs, that you’ll enter the temple’s main courtyard.

The first of the buildings to greet you is Sudasa Temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall, which is also the oldest shrine hall at the temple. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with various murals including the Dragon Ship of Wisdom and the sufferings of souls in the Underworld. It also includes some fading murals at the entrance of the hall. Inside the shrine hall sits a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). He’s joined by ten large seated statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. Up in the rafters of the shrine hall are some beautiful, wooden dragons.

Next to the Myeongbu-jeon Hall is the temple’s main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with some vibrant Palsang-do murals. Inside this hall, and seated on the main altar, sits a large golden statue dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). The statue of Amita-bul dates back to 1649. This statue is backed by a Vulture Peak Assembly mural that was painted in 1731. This mural also just so happens to be Treasure #1638. Up near the rafters of the main hall are two unique incarnations of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) in painted form. So have a look up when visiting the main hall at both of these paintings, as well as the floral ceiling.

Between both the main hall and the Myeongbu-jeon, and up a bamboo grove, is the temple’s Sanshin-gak. Housed inside this solitary hall is a seated mural of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Dressed all in red, he’s joined by a large dongja who is carrying a cup of tea for Sanshin.

Past the main hall, and the monks’ dorms, you’ll find Sudasa Temple’s Samseong-gak. It’s past a bridge and up a set of stairs that you’ll find this hall. The three shaman murals are more modern-looking than that Sanshin mural up in the Sanshin-gak. This Sanshin mural, alongside Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars), sits in front of a peach tree and underneath a twisted red pine.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Sudasa Temple is from the Gumi Train Station. From the train station, you’ll need to take a taxi to the temple. The drive should take about 40 minutes and cost you about 25,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 5.5/10. Both of the Sanshin paintings inside their respective halls are a contrast in style about an identical subject, which is quite rare to find at a single Korean Buddhist temple. The pair of Sanshin murals are joined by the early 18th century Vulture Peak Assembly mural, and the 1649 Amita-bul statue, as highlights at Sudasa Temple. A bit out of the way, the natural surroundings are also something to enjoy while visiting this isolated Gumi temple.

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Both the main hall and the Myeongbu-jeon Hall at Sudasa Temple.

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One of the Underworld paintings adorning the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

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Another of the Myeongbu-jeon paintings; this time, it’s the Dragon Ship of Wisdom.

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Inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall with a look at Jijang-bosal.

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One of the red-faced Vajra warriors at the entry of the Myeongbu-jeon.

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The bamboo trail that leads up to Sudasa Temple’s Sanshin-gak.

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The Sanshin-gak.

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The mural of Sanshin inside the Sanshin-gak.

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A look across the front of the main hall with the temple’s guard dog looking in on the morning service.

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One of the Palsang-do murals adorning the exterior walls.

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Some of the temple’s landscaping at Sudasa Temple.

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The temple bridge.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Sudasa Temple.

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And the second Sanshin mural, a more modern version of the Mountain Spirit, inside the Samseong-gak.

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