Having visited the neighbouring Nojeonam Hermitage the weekend before, and realizing just how beautiful the autumn colours are this year, I decided I would visit Anjeogam Hermitage. The only problem is that the 9 kilometre hike turned into a 12 kilometre hike because I got lost inside the Naewon valley.
Much like Nojeonam Hermitage, Anjeogam Hermitage (안적암) is associated with Naewonsa Temple and it was built around the same time during the Silla Dynasty by Wonhyo-daesa. In 1646, during the Joseon Dynasty, the Great Priest Yeonghun reconstructed this hermitage after it had fallen into disrepair. At the time of this reconstruction, only the main hall and the Iljumun Gate remained. Finally, in 1978, the main hall was dismantled, reconstructed, and then repainted.
You can first see the hermitage on the other side of the embankment as you approach. Walking up a long road, you’ll finally arrive inside the hermitage grounds. The first thing to greet you is the ancient Iljumun Gate in front of you. The intricate woodwork adorning the gate is amazing. To your left is a beautiful view of the Naewon valley and mountains. This view was especially beautiful because of the changing colours of the leaves.
After passing through the bell pavilion, and up a stone staircase, you’ll finally arrive in the main courtyard to the hermitage. Immediately ahead is the uniquely designed main hall. Around the main hall are various paintings of monks at work and landscape paintings. Inside the hall, it almost seems as though the main hall use to be divided into sections. At least this was my guess, and after reading more information about this hermitage, my guess turned out to be the correct one. Formally, on the left side of the main hall, where the Chinese characters read “sajahu,” this part of the main hall use to be the monk’s quarters. Presently, there are two beautiful paintings: one is a guardian painting, while another is of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). In the centre section, which just so happens to be the largest section, is an ornate canopy that houses a triad of statues with Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) at the centre. This part of the main hall has always been used as the main worship hall, and you can actually walk all the way around the main altar at the hermitage. On the far right, and the smallest section of the main hall, is a unique painting of a man struggling up a vine as an elephant looks on. In the past, this section of the main hall was used as the kitchen. This kitchen has now been transferred outside of the main hall, but it’s still attached to the right side of this building. Uniquely, there’s a shaman god painting and shrine in the kitchen area.
Besides the Iljumun Gate and the uniquely designed main hall, there are four other structures at Anjeogam Hermitage. To the far left is the monk’s dorm. Next to the unpainted dorm is the hermitages bell pavilion. Inside the bell pavilion is a beautiful bell with a red ring of rust around the neck of Poroe. To the far right of the main hall is a visitor’s centre. And next to the subterranean visitor’s centre is a shrine hall with unknown meaning. I believe it is the San shin shrine hall, but the head monk of the hermitage waved me towards the exit before I could go any further. This is the first time this has ever happened to me, and to say I was surprised is an understatement considering I’m always respectful and maintain the tranquility of a given temple or hermitage.
HOW TO GET THERE: While Nojeonam Hermitage is a bit of an adventure to get to, Anjeogam Hermitage is even more difficult to find. From Yangsan, you can catch bus #12-1 from Yangsan bus terminal. This bus leaves every hour. From the bus terminal, you’ll ride the bus about 20 to 30 minutes (depending on traffic) to the Naewonsa Temple entrance. Once here, you’ll have to walk an additional 30 minutes to the ticket booth. You can either walk the 30 minutes or take a taxi. At the Naewonsa Temple ticket booth, instead of heading right towards Naewonsa Temple, you’ll have to head left and walk through a parking lot. Once you’re at the far end of the parking lot, and next to a washroom facility, you’ll see a green barrier fence in front of a dirt road. There’s an entrance to the right. You should head down this dirt trail for 2 kilometres until you arrive at Nojeonam Hermitage. Once you get to Nojeonam Hermitage, hang a right at the bridge. You’ll follow this trail for another 2 kilometres beside a cascading stream. Eventually, you’ll get to a map marker where the trails split in a couple of directions. You want to take the one that goes up the hill and that lies directly in front of the map. Head up this trail for another kilometer until you arrive at the hermitage. To say this hermitage is difficult to find and get to is an understatement. In total, you’ll have to walk 10 kilometres, and that’s if you don’t get lost along the poorly marked trails.
View 안적암동종 in a larger map
OVERALL RATING: 6/10. This hermitage rates just as highly as its neighbouring hermitage, Nojeonam Hermitage, but for very different reasons. The view from the main hall down on the valley below and the mountains around are especially beautiful in the fall. Add to it the uniquely designed main hall and the Iljumun Gate, and this only adds to the overall rating of this hermitage. There are a couple negatives to this temple: one is the crabby head monk, and the second is the distance you’ll have to travel to find it.