Haeeunsa Temple – 해은사 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The neighbouring Bunsanseong Fortress near Haeeunsa Temple.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on top of Mt. Bunseongsan, which is just south of the Gimhae Gaya Park, is Haeeunsa Temple. Uniquely, the temple is perched on the peak of Mt. Bunseongsan, which measures a respectable 326.8 metres in height.

As you make your way up the mountain, and towards the temple, you’ll pass by one of the eastern walls of Bunsanseong Fortress. This fortress was first constructed in 1377 to guard against the Japanese. From the fortress walls you get some beautiful views of Gimhae down below. A little further up the trail and you’ll come to a clearing where Haeeunsa Temple is located.

To the left, and up a gravel trail that skirts a wall that obscures the temple courtyard from view, you’ll find an artificial pond with Yongwang (The Dragon King) in its midst. This stone image of the Dragon King sits in the centre of a lotus pond. And joining this shamanic deity to the left is a jolly stone image of Podae-hwasang.

Through the slender Iljumun Gate, you’ll finally enter the compact temple courtyard. Straight ahead is one of the more unique temple halls that you’ll find at any temple throughout the Korean peninsula. Housed inside this unadorned, and newly built, hall are two murals. One is dedicated to the famed Gaya king, King Suro (?-199). He’s joined to the right by an equally beautiful mural dedicated to his Indian wife, Queen Heo.

To the left of this shrine hall is the temple’s main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with Palsang-do murals. As you first step inside the main hall, you’ll be welcomed by an elaborate guardian mural. Next to this mural, and sitting on the main altar, are a triad of statues. In the centre of the triad sits a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the left sits a statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).

To the right of the shrine hall dedicated to both King Suro and Queen Heo is a pathway that leads past an old tree. At the top of these stairs is the Sanshin-gak in a clearing. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are two rather plain looking images: one of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and one of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). To the left of this hall, and up on an elevated stone platform, is a stone altar with a stone stupa in the centre. This stupa is adorned with wildly elaborate images that are reminiscent of South-East Asia.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gimhae City Hall subway stop, you should catch a taxi to get to Haeeunsa Temple. The trip should last about 15 minutes and cost about 6,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Haeeunsa Temple was a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting anything more than the beautiful paintings of King Suro and Queen Heo, but there was so much more to this temple than these two foundational murals. Adding to the overall feel of this temple is the neighbouring Bunsanseong Fortress as well as the highly elaborate stupa at the summit of Mt. Bunseongsan.

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The mountainside trail that leads up to Haeeunsa Temple.

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The outskirts to the temple grounds.

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Yongwang in all his glory.

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Who is joined by Podae-hwasang to the left.

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The slender Iljumun Gate at Haeeunsa Temple.

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The shrine hall that houses the murals of King Suro and Queen Heo.

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A better look at King Suro.

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And his wife, Queen Heo.

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A look towards the main hall at Haeeunsa Temple.

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A look inside the main hall at the temple.

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The altar dedicated to Amita-bul.

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One of the Palsang-do murals adorning the main hall.

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The view from the temple courtyard.

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The trail that leads up to the upper courtyard at the temple.

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The view from the upper courtyard down towards Gimhae.

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The Sanshin-gak shaman shrine hall at Haeeunsa Temple.

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With Sanshin to the left and Chilseong to the right.

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The elaborate stupa at Haeeunsa Temple.

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