Jangyuksa Temple – 장육사 (Yeongdeok, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal at Jangyuksa Temple in Yeongdeok, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just south of Mt. Unseosan in the remote city of Yeongdeok, Gyeongsangbuk-do is Jangyuksa Temple. The temple was first constructed by the monk Naong (1320-1376) during the reign of King Gongmin of Goryeo (r. 1351-74). Subsequently, it was completely destroyed by a brush fire during the reign of King Sejong (r. 1418-50). It was later to be rebuilt only to be destroyed, once more, this time by the invading Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-98). Not long after, the temple grounds were rebuilt with the last major restoration taking place in 1900. Now, over one hundred years later, it seems as though Jangyuksa Temple is undergoing yet another major renovation.

You first approach the temple grounds from a twisting country road. From the temple parking lot, you’ll get a great view to your right of the sprawling temple grounds with a meandering stream to your left.

Mounting the stone set of stairs, you’ll find the temple bell pavilion halfway up the stairs. Housed inside this pavilion is a beautiful oxidized temple bell. Finally, after viewing the bell pavilion, you’ll pass under the temple’s Boje-ru Pavilion. Just watch your head while passing under this pavilion because the ceiling is quite low. Appearing on the other side, you’ll finally have all the major shrine halls in front of you. The first of the set, the Daeung-jeon Hall, lies directly in front of you. While the exterior walls are largely unadorned all but for the dancheong traditional colour scheme, there is a beautiful three tier pagoda to the right of the main hall. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To your left of the main altar is an elaborate guardian mural. And if you look up at the ceiling inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a collection of older murals like the book-ending pair of Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal. Have a look around the main hall, because it’s definitely worth it.

To the left of the main hall is the Gwaneum-jeon. Like the Daeung-jeon Hall, the Gwaneum-jeon Hall is bare all but for the Korean traditional dancheong colours. As for the interior, and resting all alone on the main altar, is a beautiful Gwanseeum-bosal statue with long black hair. This statue is backed by an elaborate one thousand armed mural of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Rounding out the interior of the hall are row up row of diminutive golden statues of Gwanseeum-bosal.

And to the far left, and the furthest up the mountain, is the Sanshin-gak. Like the previous two halls, this one, too, is all but unadorned on the outside. Stepping inside the shrine hall, you’ll notice an intense image of a tiger joining Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) in the Sanshin mural.

HOW TO GET THERE: Without the use of your own vehicle, or that of a friend or family member, Jangyuksa Temple is virtually impossible to get to. With nearly a two and a half hour ride on public transportation and multiple bus changes, this mode of transportation bears this out. So be forewarned when visiting this extremely remote part of Korea.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The main highlight at Jangyuksa Temple is the interior of the Daeung-jeon Hall with its historic murals and colourful interior. Other things to keep an eye out for are the murals contained within the Sanshin-gak and the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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The entry to Jangyuksa Temple.

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The temple’s bell pavilion.

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The bronze bell at the temple that has started the oxidization process.

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The Daeung-jeon main hall at Jangyuksa Temple.

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The three tier-stone pagoda to the right of the main hall.

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A closer look at the relief of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) on the pagoda.

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A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at the main altar.

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The temple’s guardian mural.

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The child-like image of Munsu-bosal inside the main hall.

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As well as the child-like image of the elephant riding Bohyun-bosal.

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The view from the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The Gwaneum-jeon Hall to the left of the Daeung-jeon main hall.

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A look inside the elaborate Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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And to the left of the Gwaneum-jeon is the Sanshin-gak.

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The beautiful Sanshin mural inside the Sanshin-gak.

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