Eunhasa Temple – 은하사 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The main hall at Eunhasa Temple with the looming mountain peaks from Sineosan Mountain in the background.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

I had last visited Eunhasa Temple (은하사) in Gimhae with a friend back in the summer of 2008; however, I had never visited the temple with my wife. And with the beautiful buildings and scenery, I wanted to show the temple off to her, so we decided to go.

Eunhasa Temple means Silver Water Temple in English. The temple is located on the side of Sineosan Mountain (which means Fish of the Gods, in English), and it’s one of Korea’s oldest temples. According to legend, the temple’s main hall dates back to the reign of the famous King Suro (?-199 A.D.), and it was built by monk Jangyuhwasang. What is probably more plausible is that there was earthenware found at the temple that dates back to the Three Kingdoms Period. The temple was originally called Seorimsa Temple. During the Imjin War in 1592, the entire temple was burned to the ground. The main hall, Daeung-jeon Hall was rebuilt in 1629. Subsequently, the temple was restored three times; once in 1649, the second time in 1801, and the third in 2003.

You first approach Eunhasa Temple up a winding road for 400 metres. At the base of the parking lot, you’ll climb up an uneven set of large stone stairs to get to the temple’s lotus pond that houses a beautifully aged bronze statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Over the carp designed granite bridge, you’ll pass by a forested path to your right, and head straight up another steep set of uneven stone stairs. Passing through the gate that has three doorways, you’ll finally enter into the lower courtyard at the temple. On this level, and to your immediate right, is a gift shop and tea house. Straight ahead is another temple parking lot, and to the far left is the administrative office for the temple. But what is most memorable about this view of the temple is the stately bell pavilion that hovers over the lower courtyard, and the imposing Sineosan Mountain peaks in the background.

Up yet another uneven set of stone stairs (yes, there’s a lot of stairs to this temple), you’ll finally see just how picturesque this temple is with the beautiful temple buildings and the scenery that surrounds you at every turn. To your immediate left is the stately bell pavilion that first greeted you at the temple. The bell pavilion is adorned with several unusually designed dragon heads all over its exterior. Two of the more unusual dragon heads are perched on the arm rails that lead you into the bell pavilion. They’re simply dragon heads with wings. But the most unusual dragon fixture on the bell pavilion is the wooden dragon gong that has a double-headed turtle resting on the right side of the dragon gong’s flank.

Next to the bell pavilion, and up the last uneven set of stone stairs, is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall that houses Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The exterior walls of the hall are unadorned; however, the floral lattice work that adorns the doors to the Hall are gorgeous. Inside the hall sits Jijang-bosal. And on either side of him are the 10 Kings of the Underworld. There are also a couple guardians protecting both entrances to the Hall.

Sitting centrally located on the upper courtyard are three temple Halls. The one in the middle is the Daeung-jeon Hall, which acts as the temple’s main hall. This rather small main hall is beautifully decorated by paintings both inside and out. The exterior walls of the main hall have some of the more stunning Biseon in Korea, as well as beautiful Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and saints, adorning the gables. There are also some large and unique murals that surround the sides of the main hall, as well as a set of frightful Nathwi adorning the main entrance to the main hall. And as impressive as the main hall is on the exterior, the interior paintings are even more beautiful. Inside sits a solitary statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). There are a couple paintings of this Bodhisattva adorning the right wall of the main hall with a gorgeous guardian painting on the left wall.

To the left of the main hall is the Samseong-gak hall dedicated to the three most popular shaman gods to be found at a Korean temple; they are, Chilseong (The Seven Stars), San Shin (The Mountain god), and Dokseong (The Recluse). The paintings of these three gods are stunning. And the exterior walls of this hall are adorned with flowers and a couple of chubby fellow talking on the right wall.

To the right of the main hall is, what looks to be, the Nahan-jeon, which is dedicated to the disciples of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). There was a ceremony going on when we arrived, so it was impossible to get any closer, but from what I remember from my last visit, there’s a white Seokgamoni-bul statue sitting on the main altar of the hall with white flanking statues of the Nahan. And to the far right is the monk dorms and the temple office.

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: First, you can either walk the 3 kilometre hike up hill (which I don’t advise); or second, you can take a taxi for about 3,000 won.

View 은하사 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. The temple is beautifully located on the side of Mt.Sineosan with the gray granite peaks looking down at EunhasaTemple. The dragon adorned bell pavilion is a beautiful example of Korean craftsmanship as is the floral lattice work adorning the Myeongbu-jeon Hall. All the halls have beautiful paintings adorning the exterior walls, and the stately statue of a crowned Gwanseeum-bosal is second to none in all of Korea as are the murals that keep this Bodhisattva company inside the main hall.

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The view up at the temple and Mt. Sineosan from the lotus pond as you first approach Eunhasa Temple.
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The fish patterned bridge.
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And a better look at the statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that stands in the depths of the right lotus pond.
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The three doored gate that allows you access and admittance to the temple.
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The stately bell pavilion that first greets you at Eunhasa Temple.
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A better look at the entrance-way to the bell pavilion with the winged dragon heads.
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Just one of the unique dragon heads that protrude out from the bell pavilion.
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And the wooden dragon gong that has a double-headed turtle resting on its right flank.
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A beautiful look up at the main hall and the towering Sinseosan Mountain up above.
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A look at the Myeongbu-jeon Hall at Eunhasa Temple.
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It has some of the more beautiful floral lattice doors in all of Korea.
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Just one of the 10 kings that take up residence inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.
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Another look at the main hall to the right with the Shamanistic Samseong-gak Hall to the left of it.
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This is one of the more unique paintings at Eunhasa Temple. It adorns the right side of the Samseong-gak Hall.
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Inside the Samseong-gak Hall is this painting of San shin (The Mountain god). He’s joined by two other paintings of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and Dokseong (The Recluse).
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Just one of the beautiful Biseon that adorns the walls of the main hall at Eunhasa Temple.
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There are also these beautiful paintings of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas adorning the gables along the main hall at the temple.
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This is just one in a set of Nathwi that scare away evil spirits in front of the front entrance doors at the main hall.
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Inside sits this beautifully crowned statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
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The monk dorms to the right of the main hall.
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And between the main hall and the monks’ dorms is the Nahan-jeon dedicated to the disciples of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).
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A look inside the Nahan-jeon Hall at a white Seokgamoni-bul on the altar. He’s flanked by equally white stone statues of the Nahan.

6 thoughts on “Eunhasa Temple – 은하사 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

  1. Dale, have you checked out the idea of sending a book proposal to any one of the following publishers:

    1) Univ. of Hawaii Press (Honolulu)– they mainly do academic titles, but they might be interested in your topic by way of doing a special “art book”– they might need a bit of scholarly input in the introduction and studying some of the artwork and architectural design, but that’s doable, either by yourself and/or a colleague or someone that U. of Hawaii Press could furnish as a consultant.

    2) Wisdom Publications or Shambhala (both in Boston)– they do a lot of Buddhist titles every year

    3) Tuttle (Boston/Tokyo)– they’ve also done many Buddhist books over the years, and often print in the Far East, so they use really nice paper and production values.

    4) Lonely Planet Press, the famous travelbook publishers, might be interested to do a separate, special title on S.Korean Buddhist temples…

    Dale, if you’ve never written a book proposal, there are basic guidebooks you can buy through any good bookstore. You might also just go through LMP (Literary Market Place) “Agents” section and see if you can find and then interest an agent in repping you to one of the publishers.

    Best wishes and thanks for freely sharing what you’ve done so lavishly here.

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