The gorgeously sculpted Gatbawi Shrine on Mt. Palgongsan. (courtesy of “The Swede”)
Now, before you say Gatbawi isn’t a temple, it’s a shrine: I know. But for the sake of its uniqueness and association with Buddhism, I thought I would include it here. Also, I’m sure there are a lot out there that want to see it and want to know how to get there. So that’s why it’s included on the blog (or at least that’s my justification for including it, so there).
When you’re first dropped off by the bus, which is in the Gatbawi Park parking lot, you’ll start to make your long walk up Mt. Palgongsan. Follow the well placed signs as they guide your way. Halfway up the mountain, you’ll come to Deokunsa Temple, which is a small but nice little place to gather your breath along the way. After viewing Deokunsa Temple, you’ll continue on your way up to the Gatbawi Shrine. There are a countless amount of steps as you make your way to the top of Mt. Palgongsan. When you finally do get to the top of the mountain, where the Gatbawi Shrine rests, you’ll be greeted by a large group of people praying to a stone statue of Yaksayore-bul (The Buddha of Medicine).
The Gatbawi statue is an imposing statue of the Buddha of Medicine that stands six metres tall, and it dates back to the 800’s. A wide flat rock sits on its head. This hat is called a “gat,” and it was traditionally worn by Korean men. Combining “gat” with the word “bawi” for rock, and you get the gist of what Gatbawi means in English. On the first and fifteenth of each month, if you pray at the feet of the shrine, or so it’s said, you’ll supposedly get your wish granted.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Gatbawi Shrine, you’ll have to take city bus #311, from Hayang Bus Terminal, for 30 minutes, where it’ll drop you off in the parking lot at Gatbawi Park. Then the hard climb starts. You can also take Daegu city bus #401, or Palgong city bus #2, or #3.
OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. The Gatbawi Shrine has a certain magic to it that draws hundreds of people on any given day. It’s especially amazing on a clear sunlit day. For the sheer historical, religious, and artistic significance, this shrine rates as high as it does.
Once again, a big thank you to “The Swede” for allowing me to use some of her pictures.