A Biseon dancing around in the statue courtyard with a golden Buddha at her back at Chungryunam Hermitage, near Beomeosa Temple, in Busan.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Continuing on our visit to Beomeosa Temple, and the hermitages to the right of the temple, we decided to go to Chungryunam Hermitage (청련암). Actually, we had always intended this to be our first hermitage to visit, but we spotted Jijangam Hermitage along the way.
Chungryunam Hermitage means Blue Lotus Hermitage. And it’s the closest hermitage to Beomeosa Temple. As you first approach the hermitage from the hermitage’s parking lot, you’ll notice some beautiful Roses of Sharon and blue chrysanthemums in full bloom. Past these flowers are a pair of stone guardians at the entrance of the temple. What is most impressive about the hermitage is the U-shaped enclave that houses numerous statues, which you will see as you climb a set of stairs. To the right is the Seonmudo Hall of martial arts. Like Golgulsa Temple in Gyeongju, Chungryunam Hermitage also practices the ancient martial art. Walking past the twin Haetae, mythical creatures that both consume and control fire, you’ll stand at the foot of the statue enclave. In the centre of this enclave is a golden Buddha. Surrounding this golden Buddha are various Bodhisattvas, Guardians, and Biseon. At the back of the enclave, perched on the concrete wall, are two large standing statues. The white one on the left is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), while the contemplative one to the right is Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). To the front of the statues are twelve smaller sized zodiac statues. And at the very front of the statue enclave are Biseon dancing around, with Guardians protecting all, including a beautiful green coppered incense burner with a dragon base.
To the left of this statue enclave is the main hall. The main hall, much like Golgulsa Temple, sports numerous highly original paintings. There are a twin set of paintings adorning the external walls of the main hall. On top are various paintings depicting the various incarnations of the Buddha, while on the bottom there are various pictures associated with the Seonmudo martial arts. Inside the main hall, on the altar, is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light). On either side of Birojana-bul is Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). All three are backed by a pair flaming golden nimbuses. To the left of the main altar is the Yeongsan Assembly painting; and to the left of that is the guardian painting with Dongjin-bosal (The Protector of the Buddha’s Teachings) at the centre of the painting. Uniquely, there are dozens of smaller sized black statues adorning the left wall. In front of the hermitage, there is a uniquely designed stone pagoda much like the one at Golgulsa Temple. There seems to be a lot these two holy sites have in common. Behind the main hall, there’s a smaller sized shrine hall that is also illustrated with paintings depicting various acts and practices of Seonmudo. To the far left, there’s the monk’s study hall and dorm. The exterior of the monk’s dorm and study hall are paintings of various Buddhist saints. In front of this holy structure, there’s an impressively intricate stone lantern with a mythological bird adorning the top of it.
HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to Chungryunam Hermitage in one of two ways. In both scenarios you first have to take the Busan subway, line one, to Beomeosa station and take exit #1. Here, you can either walk up the thirty minute hike to Beomeosa Temple, or you can walk a block uphill to the bus stop where you can take bus #90 to the nearby entrance of Beomeosa Temple. Instead of walking left towards the Iljumun Gate, continue to hang right towards the hermitage. You’ll pass by Beomeosa Temple, which will be to your left. There will be a sign halfway between the temple and the hermitage, which will read 청련암,continue to follow these signs as they lead you right of the main temple. Eventually, you’ll come to a small parking lot. The path will fork like a “W.” The hermitage to the left is Chungryunam Hermitage.
Admission to the hermitage is free.
View 청련암 in a larger map
OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Chungryunam Hermitage has a lot to offer the Korean temple adventurer. First, it has beautiful flowers that welcome you to the temple like the blue mums and lavender Roses of Sharon. Past these flowers is an amazing enclave of statues depicting various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Guardians, and Biseon. To the left of this is the main hall, which is decorated with some extremely unique and rare paintings, much like the ones that illustrate different practices of the Seonmudo martial arts. Another highlight to the hermitage is the intricately designed stone lantern in front of the monk’s dorms and study hall. So if you have the time, and the inclination to see something beyond Beomeosa Temple, I highly recommend you check out Chungryunam Hermitage!