Hello Again Everyone!!
I had never heard of Dongrimsa Temple until my wife pointed out just how close it is in proximity to Eunhasa Temple in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do. But since it’s only 400 metres away from Eunhasa Temple, we decided that since we were in the area that we would explore Dongrimsa Temple as well.
When you first approach Dongrimsa Temple from the fork in the road, you’ll first encounter a beautifully painted Iljumun gate that greets you to the temple grounds. Next to the gate is a stately statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This statue of this Bodhisattva is the first of many that await you up the mountain.
A further 400 metres up the twisting and turning road that has sharp inclines at times, you’ll next come to the base of the temple. To the right you’ll see a strange second gate. This second gate is the Cheonwangmun that houses the Four Heavenly Kings. The only problem is that there are no residence inside this gate.
Continuing up to the temple, you can either continue up the road or take a mountain full of stairs to get to the temple’s courtyard. Either way, it’s a bit of a hefty last leg to get to the temple. Finally, when you arrive, you’ll be greeted by an imposing statue of Jijang-bosal that stands in the temple courtyard. This 10 metre tall statue is surrounded by six smaller statues of Jijang-bosal that stand two metres tall. And just like Eunhasa Temple, Dongrimsa Temple is surrounded by the same picturesque Sineosan Mountains.
From the temple courtyard, you’ll be able to see four buildings. The first building to your immediate left is the monk/nun dorms. This temple is a bit different in that both monks and nuns live together. To the far right is the temple’s diminutive bell pavilion, and straight ahead is the temple’s administrative office.
Now, slightly to the left, and facing the gorgeous granite face of Sineosan, you’ll see the stately main hall. This main hall is pretty large for the size of the small temple. When we visited, they were re-roofing the main hall, so we were able to see the mud mortar in between the tiles. Around the exterior walls of the main hall are paintings of faith and death. Outside, on the left side, is another uniquely grotesque painting of Dazu Huike cutting off his left arm to prove his resolve to the Bodhidharma. And on the right side of the exterior walls are two paintings depicting the Dragon Ship of Wisdom. The two paintings of this ship are unique. Usually there is only one that depicts the ship sailing across the Sea of Samsara (Yoonhwi, in Korean). But there is another painting at this temple that depicts the boat arriving on the shores of the Western Paradise.
If you couldn’t tell already, you will once you enter into the main hall, that this temple is dedicated to the dead. With the large statues of Jijang-bosal in the courtyard, the paintings of faith and death around the main hall, and now a large golden statue of Jijang-bosal sits on the altar. And to his left stands the most powerful of the 10 Kings of the Underworld: Yama Daewang. On the far left wall is a beautiful painting of Jijang-bosal. And on the right wall is the customary guardian painting that is an equally intricate and ornate as the painting of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that hangs beside it. One of the highlights to this temple is definitely the wood engravings that adorn the altar inside the main hall. You can see some gorgeous decorative etchings of owls, rabbits, and dragons underneath the paintings and statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, guardians, and saints.
Behind the main hall, and to the right, is a simple looking Samseong-gak hall dedicated to the three Shaman gods that occupy most Korean temples: Chilseong (The Seven Stars), San shin (The Mountain Spirit), and Dokseong (The Recluse). However, inside this shrine hall are some of the most beautiful paintings of these gods (perhaps next to Songnimsa) in all of Korea.
HOW TO GET THERE: You can catch Bus #98 from the Gimhae Intercity Bus Terminal, which is beside the King Suro Subway Stop. Ride the bus for 4.7 kilometres until you arrive at Inje University. From Inje University you can get to the temple in one of two ways: You can either walk the 3 kilometre hike up hill (which I don’t advise); or take a taxi for about 3,000 Won. When the road forks to the left towards Eunhasa Temple, you should head right towards the Iljumun Gate which is plainly in sight.
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OVERALL RATING: 5.5/10. There are a few highlights to this temple like the animal carvings that adorn the altar inside the main hall, the paintings of that surround the exterior of the main hall, the stoic 10 metre tall Jijang-bosal statue that stands in the temple courtyard, and the Samseong-gak Shaman shrine hall to the right rear of the main hall. While not nearly as beautiful as the neighbouring Eunhasa Temple, Dongrimsa Temple does have a few things that make the trip worth it in conjunction with Eunhasa Temple.