Eunhaesa Temple – 은해사 (Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

Picture 198The elaborately decorated altar inside the main hall at Eunhaesa Temple in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

Eunhaesa  Temple had been a temple that I had long heard of, but had never traveled to. And with an extra day of travel set aside, my wife and I decided to head up to the Daegu area and visit  Eunhaesa  Temple.

Eunhaesa Temple (은해사), which means Temple of the Silver Sea, dates back to 809 when it was first built by the Venerable Monk Hyechul, who was a national teacher at the time. The reason that Eunhaesa Temple has this Silver Sea name is that Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Nahan look like a wavy silver sea in all their grandeur at the temple. Also, when it’s foggy at the temple, it looks like a wavy seas is present. Originally, the temple was built in Haeanpeong field along  Mt.  Palsongsan, and it was named  Haeansa  Temple, which means Temple of the  Tranquil  Sea. The temple was moved to its present location in 1546 in the first year of King Myong-Jong, by the Veneral Monk Chongyo. During a commemorative ceremony at the time, King Injong was memorialized with a ceremony that saw a lecture hall and monument built in his memory. Strangely, his umbilical cord was buried under the monument. The temple was further reconstructed in 1589 by the Venerable Monks Bopryong and Kwangshim during King Sunjo’s reign during the Joseon Dynasty. In 1919, the temple was designated as the provincial headquarters for the Gyeongsangbuk-do province for the Jogye Buddhist Order In total, there are 42 temples and 8 hermitages under its control like Geojoam Hermitage and Myobongam Hermitage.

When you approach the temple from the parking lot, you’ll pass under a massive entrance gate. Walking along the trail that leads up the trail, you’ll be greeted by twisted and turned pine trees that eventually bring you to a compound that houses the temple’s stupas. There is an out of place bright green bridge that spans a beautiful stream. Further up the trail, you’ll finally catch your first glimpse of the temple grounds and a neighbouring cascade of water that could do with a bit of cleaning.

You’ll first pass under the large lecture hall that is decorated both inside and outside of the temple grounds with guardian paintings. Strangely, these paintings are neither Heng nor Ha; instead, they seem to appear more like protective Vajra guardians. Stepping into the temple grounds, you’ll be greeted by an expansive courtyard. To your immediate left is the two storied bell pavilion. Immediately in front of the bell pavilion is an intricately designed water fountain and study hall. To the far right, as you step into the temple courtyard, are the monk’s grounds that are off limits to the general public. In this area are numerous dorms and study halls.

Straight ahead is the beautifully designed main hall, both inside and out. The exterior of the main hall is decorated with some fading and chipped away Ox-Herding murals, which are still beautiful in composition. Inside the main hall, you won’t see a better looking and more beautifully decorated main hall in all of Korea. On the altar sits Amita-bul (The Buddha of the  Western Paradise) and two standing Bodhisattvas: Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to his right, and what looks to be Daesaeji (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and the Power of Amita-bul). The mural behind the triad dates back to 1750 and is designated a national treasure. There are equally beautiful and older looking murals to the right and left of the main altar. These paintings depict the Yeongsan Assembly and another that depicts the guardians. Up in the rafters of the main hall, there float two birds of paradise. And the main altar canopy is adorned with a uniquely designed dragon.

To the left of the main hall is a shrine hall dedicated to prominent monks that formally resided at the temple. Behind this hall is a compact, but cutely designed, hall dedicated to San shin (The Mountain god). This beautiful shrine hall is equally beautiful inside the hall with a unique bluish gray statue of the Mountain god. To the right of the main hall is the Myeongbu-jeon hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The exterior of the building is adorned with paintings of a baby being reared to old age. The interior of the hall is adorned with a thousand tiny statues of Jijang-bosal. The main altar of the hall is a stately looking Jijang-bosal statue with a beautiful black mural of the Bodhisattva behind him.

Admission to the temple is 3,000 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can either catch a bus from Hayang or Yeongcheon bus station. The bus ride will cost you about 1,700 Won. It’s probably easier to get to Yeongcheon bus station. The bus to Eunhaesa Temple, from Yeongcheon, leaves 8 times a day and it takes about 45 minutes. The first bus leaves at 6:20 A.M. and the last bus leaves at 8:00 P.M.

View 은해사 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. The main hall is definitely the highlight of this temple, with its beautiful and ancient mural, the canopy that hovers over top of the triad of Amita-bul and his assisting Bodhisattvas, as well as the numerous murals that are spread throughout the hall. The shrine hall dedicated to San shin is nice, as are the Myeongbu-jeon hall and the hall dedicated to deceased monks. The other aspects of the hall are a little non-descript other than the elaborately designed water fountain next to the bell pavilion.

Picture 122
The massive entrance gate that welcomes you to the temple.
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The twisted pines that keep you company for most of the walk up to the temple.
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The silver stream that Eunhaesa Temple is named after.
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A look at the stupa compound that houses all the headstones to deceased monks from Eunhaesa Temple.
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The bridge that leads into the temple.
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And the lecture hall that you’ll have to step under to gain access to the temple courtyard.
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The beautiful water fountain with the study hall behind it.
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The tall two storied bell pavilion at the temple.
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A look up at the main hall at the temple with study halls and administrative office on either side of it.
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The newer looking lion-based lantern at Eunhaesa Temple.
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A closer look up at the main hall.
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The shrine hall that is dedicated to prominent monks that resided at Eunhaesa Temple.
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A look inside the shrine hall.
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A look up at the cute and compact San shin hall dedicated to the Mountain god.
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Inside this hall is a bluish gray statue dedicated to San shin.
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One of the beautiful, but fading and chipped, Ox-Herding murals.
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A look inside at the altar inside the main hall with Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) in the centre with Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Amita-bul’s Power). If you look close enough you can see the dragon ahead adorning the canopy directly above Amita-bul’s head.
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The beautifully red guardian painting to the left of the main altar.
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The older looking, and beautifully detailed, Yeongsan Assembly painting.
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One of the floating birds of paradise that resides in the rafters of the main hall.
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To the back of the main hall, and to the right, is the Myeongbu-jeon hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
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One of the murals that adorns the exterior of the Myeongbu-jeon hall.
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A look inside the elaborately decorated Myeongbu-jeon hall.
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And a look at the one thousand tiny Jijang-bosal statues on the left wall of the hall.

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