Yonggungsa Temple – 용궁사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The temple courtyard at Yonggungsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just south of the more prominent Cheongyeongsa Temple, as well as the Miryang River, is the hillside Yonggungsa Temple, which means Dragon Palace Temple, in English. While certainly not as famous as its namesake in Busan, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, the Yonggungsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do has a unique charm of its own.

When you first approach the temple up a small country backstreet, you’ll be greeted by the temple’s main gate. Adorning the gate doors are a pair of peeling guardian murals. They’ve peeled so much that only their heads now appear. Inside the gate are a pair of statues that appear to be Dongjin-bosal (Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings). Not only have I never seen Dongjin-bosal housed inside an entry gate, but there are two of him. And both of them have one of their wings broken off from their helmet. It might be that while placing the temple’s lawn chairs inside this gate, which is also used for storage, that they snapped off.

Finally entering the temple grounds, one of the first things you’ll notice, which is unique to most Korean Buddhist temples, is that the temple courtyard has grass. Up on a knoll is where all of the temple shrine halls are located. Straight ahead is the main hall. Wrapped around its exterior walls are the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Uniquely, this set only has seven of the potential ten paintings. As for inside, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by 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). Hanging on the left wall is a set of murals. The first is the rather plain guardian mural. It’s joined by a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal, as well as the Dragon Ship of Wisdom. Additionally, the ceiling of the main hall is beautifully adorned with large paper lotus lanterns.

To the right of the main hall is a dharma-looking stone statue. However, this isn’t the dharma; instead, it’s Podae-hwasang.

To the left of the main hall is a peculiar shrine hall. Sitting on the main altar, and in the centre, is a stone statue dedicated to a Buddha (presumably Mireuk-bul). To the left of this statue is an older looking painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King). And to the right of the statue stand small statues of the twelve Zodiac Generals.

Between both the peculiar shrine hall and the main hall, and up a flight of granite stairs, is the rather large Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. While all the murals inside this hall are large in size, they are pretty ordinary in composition. However, the tiger painted inside the Sanshin mural does look possessed.

HOW TO GET THERE: There are two ways you can get to Yonggungsa 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 Yonggungsa Temple and 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.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. While not as spectacular as the neighbouring Cheongyeongsa Temple, Yonggungsa Temple has a charm all its own. From its grassy temple courtyard to both of its spacious main hall and Samseong-gak, the lesser known Miryang Yonggungsa Temple has a fair bit to offer a visitor. In addition, the peculiar shrine hall and the Podae-hwasang stone statue are something to enjoy, as well.

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The view from the hillside next to Yonggungsa Temple.

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The front gate at the temple.

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The guardian mural that is slowly peeling away.

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The lawn chairs and Dongjin-bosal statue together in the entry gate at Yonggungsa Temple.

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The main hall at Yonggungsa Temple.

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The stone statue of Podae-hwasang to the right of the main hall.

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Strangely, only one of seven Ox-Herding murals adorning the main hall.

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The main altar inside the main hall.

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The guardian mural inside the main hall.

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As well as the Dragon Ship of Wisdom.

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The highly elaborate ceiling to the main hall.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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Inside is this mural and statue of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

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To the left of the Samseong-gak is this unusual shrine hall.

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Inside is housed this statue of the Buddha (perhaps the Future Buddha, Mireuk-bul).

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The older looking Yongwang mural dedicated to the Dragon King.

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Four little figurines that a devotee left behind.

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As well as this lily pond.

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