Cheongyeongsa Temple – 천경사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The beautiful cave shrine at Cheongyeongsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the southern banks of the Miryang River in the heart of Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do is the scenic Cheongyeongsa Temple. The temple is located on a hill that overlooks some neighbouring farms and is surrounded by numerous temples on the hill like Yonggungsa Temple and Sudosa Temple.

You first approach the temple through a forested trail from the south. Along the entire way, the Miryang River will be to your right. When you finally do arrive at the temple, the first thing to greet you, just out in front of the temple’s gate, is a five tier stone pagoda. The etchings on the pagoda are fading. Having stepped through the gate, and to your left, is one of the more unique pagodas you’ll find in Korea. The five tier concrete pagoda is crowned by a large stone statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Each wide tier is adorned with tiny jade statues of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife.

A little further along, and the pagodas give way to a network of subterranean buildings and corridors. On top of these buildings, like the monks’ dorms, kitchen, and visitors’ centre, are the temple’s shrine halls. It’s also from this part of the temple, standing on top of the subterranean buildings, that you get a great view of the Miryang River to the right. Rectangular paper lanterns line the hand-rail that runs the entire length of the temple look-out. To the left is the temple’s diminutive pond and a set of bronze coloured statues that over-look the pond on the neighbouring ledge. In the centre of these statues, and the largest of the set, is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). She’s joined to the left by a smaller golden statue of herself and to the right by Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

To the rear of the temple grounds is the temple’s main hall. Making up the back wall of the temple is the pock-marked stone face of the neighbouring hill. Sitting in the centre of the main hall is a statue of Amita-bul who is backed by a fiery nimbus. Standing on either side of Amita-bul, and housed inside their own hallowed out shrines, are Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal (The Power and Wisdom for Amita-bul). Hanging on the right wall of the main hall is a uniquely designed guardian mural.

To the left of the main hall, and slightly elevated up the embankment, is the Samseong-gak. The shrine hall houses three rather ordinary shaman murals; but to the left of the main hall, and painted on the exterior wall, is a large, multi-stripped tiger.

But it’s down from this shaman shrine hall, and through a network of corridors, that you’ll find the temple’s true claim to fame: the cave shrine hall. To the left of a large meeting hall is the first shrine in the cave. Just outside the entry to the cave is an altar dedicated to Jijang-bosal. He is joined by a beautiful mural of Gwanseeum-bosal.

It’s to the left of the Gwanseeum-bosal mural where the mouth of the cave is located. The walls of the cave are beautifully lined with paper lotus lanterns that light up the darkness. These flowers are also joined by tiny white lights that line the entire length of the cave. Finally emerging on the other side, you’ll come to a cave with a radius of ten metres. The cave is lined with bronze metal plates. There are two altars inside the cave. The first of the two is centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Next to it, and standing squarely inside the rounded cave, is a triad, once more, centred by Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined by Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal. The interior of the walls are lined by sixteen statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha).

HOW TO GET THERE: There are two ways you can get to Cheongyeongsa Temple. The first is from the Miryang train station. You can take either Bus #1-2, #7 or the “Gagok” bus. After 3 stops, you’ll need to get off at the KT&G stop. From there, follow the signs that lead you towards Cheongyeongsa Temple. The walk should take about 10 minutes over 800 metres.

Or you could simply take a taxi from the Miryang train station. The ride should only take 6 minutes and cost you 2,800 won.The distance is a mere 1.7 km in length.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. The second of two cave temples I’ve visited in Miryang, alongside Yeoyeojeongsa Temple to the south, Cheongyeongsa Temple certainly doesn’t disappoint. The cave shrine is beautifully lined with well-lit lotus lanterns. Adding to the temple’s overall beauty is the view and the shrines inside the main temple courtyard. While the grounds are a bit run down, there is more than enough, especially underground, for people to enjoy.

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The temple entrance at Cheongyeongsa Temple.

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The older pagoda and entry gate at the temple.

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The extremely unique five tier concrete pagoda with jade statues on each level.

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A look at the temple grounds.

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The triad of statues that stand in the main temple courtyard.

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The view with the unique rectangular lanterns hanging from the look-out platform.

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The above ground temple shrine halls at Cheongyeongsa Temple.

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The main hall’s main altar with Amita-bul front and centre.

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To the left stands Daesaeji-bul in his own cavernous shrine.

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The smaller sized guardian mural inside the main hall.

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A look inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left of the main hall. To the left sits Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and to the right sits Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

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The fierce mountain tiger that adorns the exterior wall to the Samseong-gak.

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The pathway that leads down to the subterranean shrines.

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The first shrine is dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

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These beautiful paper lanterns line the pathway that leads up to the large cave shrine.

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A better look at the beautiful pathway lined with colourful paper lanterns.

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The view from inside the cave shrine with the second shrine to the right and a Nahan to the left.

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And the third shrine.

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A look at some of the Nahan statues that line the cave.

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And a couple more of these masterful stone statues.

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