Geumwangsa Temple – 금왕사 (Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The view that this Vajra Warrior gets to enjoy at Geumwangsa Temple in Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Geumwangsa Temple, which is located south of the city centre of Namhae, Gyeongsangnam-do, is ten to fifteen years old and definitely has that new feel to it. While largely overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Boriam Hermitage, Geumwangsa Temple has some pretty spectacular views of its own.

Part of the Geumsan mountain range, Geumwangsa Temple is precariously perched on the edge of one of the mountain’s ridges. The ascent up towards the temple grounds is rather steep at times; but when you finally do arrive, you’ll be welcomed by the fan like folds of the mountain where Geumwangsa Temple is located.

After climbing a steep set of stairs, you’ll finally be looking at the temple’s main hall, which also acts as the visitors’ centre and temple kitchen. The main hall at the temple is a Geukrak-jeon. Sitting all alone on the main altar is a granite statue dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). To his left, and resting on the wall, is a large black guardian mural.

Just before you start to climb another set of stairs, which Geumwangsa Temple has a lot of, you’ll notice an artificial cave to your right. Inside this dwelling rests a solitary statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the cave’s right is the diminutive temple bell pavilion.

Up the set of stairs to the right of the Gwaneum-jeon cave, you’ll climb to another plateau where a triad of statues rest overlooking the harbor down below. This triad is comprised of Amita-bul in the centre. He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). To the right of these statues is a natural cave that acts as the temple’s Yongwang-dang. Just outside the low-lying cave entry is a fierce statue dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King) above. As for inside this cave, and resting in a glass display case, while resting in a pool of mountain water, is yet another statue dedicated to Yongwang.

As you climb yet another flight of stairs, you’ll pass by numerous Nahan (The Buddha’s Historical Disciples) that rest in and among the mountain shelves and crevices. Like you, they’re enjoying the view of the mountains and the harbor down below. The Nahan are joined by a playful collection of Dongja (attendants), as well.

Once you’ve finally summited the stairs, you’ll be welcomed by a solitary statue standing in the clearing. This statue is dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). All around you, you’ll now notice all the irregular rock formations that make up the mountain peak at Geumwangsa Temple.

If you’re lucky, and to the left of the Mireuk-bul statue, the gate for the Sanshin-gak, which is perched at the highest point on the temple grounds, will be open. However, the Sanshin-gak also acts as the head monk’s meditative retreat, so it might not always be open (like when I visited). But if you’re lucky enough to enjoy the Sanshin-gak, make sure you bring a good pair of hiking shoes, because the zig-zagging path that leads up to it looks a bit treacherous.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Geumwangsa Temple is to take a taxi from the Namhae Intercity Bus Terminal. The taxi ride from Namhae Intercity Bus Terminal to Geumwangsa Temple should take about 35 minutes and cost you 25,000 to 30,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. Geumwangsa Temple is one of the most beautifully located temples in Korea. With its beautiful scenic ocean views, as well as the beautiful rocks that crown the mountain peaks, and you’ll have more than enough reason to visit this little known temple. Add into the mix the beautiful statues spread throughout Geumwangsa Temple, and you’ll have to visit this temple the next time you’re visiting the neighbouring Boriam Hermitage.

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The cute puppy that followed us all around the temple grounds.

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The Geukrak-jeon at Geumwangsa Temple.

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A look inside the Geukrak-jeon at the main altar with Amita-bul front and centre.

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The amazing view from the Geukrak-jeon.

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The temple’s bell pavilion that’s surrounded by mountains.

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The cave-like structure that houses Gwanseeum-bosal.

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The triad of statues of Amita-bul, Gwanseeum-bosal, and Jijang-bosal under one of the mountain’s peaks.

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The spectacular view that they get to enjoy.

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The statue of the Dragon King out in front of the Yongwang-dang cave entry.

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Inside the compact Yongwang-dang.

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The watery main altar inside the Yongwang-dang.

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One of the playful dongja at Geumwangsa Temple.

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Mt. Geumsan off in the distance with a collection of Nahan down below.

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Another of the amazing views from Geumwangsa Temple.

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One of the unique rock formations near the peak of the mountain.

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Yet another look at the peak.

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The statue of Mireuk-bul in the foreground with the towering mountains in the background.

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The Sanshin-gak at Geumwangsa Temple.

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