A beautiful blue sky at Pagyesa Temple in Daegu.
I first visited Pagyesa Temple back in 2005 on a rainy day, and I had long wanted to re-visit this temple ever since. So this past weekend, I made my way back to Daegu and Pagyesa Temple.
Pagyesa Temple dates back to 804 A.D. when it was built by the monk Shimji. It was later re-constructed in 1605 and then again in 1695. In total, there are presently 17 temples buildings at Pagyesa Temple. The name of the temple, Pagye, is in reference to stopping the energy of the earth from running away through the streams that run through the valley on both sides of Pagyesa Temple.
You first approach the secluded temple up a long winding road that is surrounded by beautiful and lush trees on all sides. You’ll know you’re getting closer to the temple when you see a pond to your left. Just a little bit further and you’ll come to the first, of two, temple parking lots.
Up the side winding road, you’ll first be greeted by a large visitor’s centre that’s rather new in age. Next to it sits the temple’s bell pavilion that has a beautiful collection of percussion instruments. And to the left of the bell pavilion is the Jindong-nu. This hall, that you’ll pass under to gain admittance to the temple courtyard, is used for grand Buddhist ceremonies. It was constructed in 1715. The reason that this hall was built where it is was to suppress bad energy.
Stepping into the flagstone courtyard, you’ll immediately be greeted by the beautiful Wontong-jeon main hall at the temple. This is a bit atypical for a temple of this size and importance, but not unheard of. Sitting on the main altar is a solitary statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the right of this statue is a rather large guardian mural. And surrounding all the walls inside this hall are paintings of the various Nahan. As for the exterior, and up near the under part of the ceiling on both sides of the hall, are very uniquely painted patterns.
The main hall is joined on either side of the courtyard by two buildings. The building to the right is the Jeongmuk-dang, which was first built in 1602. And it’s presently used for the monks; while the temple building to the left is the Seolseon-dang, and it’s presently used as a restaurant and a place for training. It was formally used as auditorium for monk lectures.
Behind the main hall lie two more temple buildings. The first is the Sallyeong-gak, which is better known as the Sanshin-gak at other temples, which houses a beautiful old painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). The exterior of this hall is adorned with two of the more unique set of tiger paintings. And behind this hall is the Giyeong-gak, which was built in 1696. The name of this building literally means “Pavilion to pray” in English. It was built for the monk, Hyeoneung, to pray in for the successful birth of an heir to King Sukjong (r.1674-1720). He was directly asked by the king to pray for a boy. Inside this hall sits a collection of statues on the main altar centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And it’s surrounded by seven individual paintings of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). On the right wall sits a painting of Dokseong (The Recluse).
The other two buildings found at Pagyesa Temple are the Jijang-jeon and the Geukrak-jeon, both of which lie to the left of the main temple courtyard. Both buildings are rather plain all except for the beautiful statues that sit on the main altar inside both of these halls. But be warned that during the summer months there is a rather rancid smelling bathroom before both of these halls.
Admission to the temple is a very reasonable 1,000 won.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Pagyesa Temple, you’ll need to take Line 1 on the Daegu subway system to get to Ayanggyo Station. After taking exit #2, and making your way to the neighbouring bus stop, you can either take bus #101, 101-1, or Express Bus #1, all of which bring you to the bus parking lot at the base of Palgongsan Provincial Park. From the bus parking lot, it’s a rather steep 1.1 kilometre hike to the entrance of Pagyesa Temple.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10. To be honest, I was a little bit disappointed by my return to this temple. Sometimes, a fond memory takes precedence over reality. With that being said, there are a few definite highlights to this temple like the beautiful Sanshin-gak and its accompanying murals. Also, the multi-Chilseong paintings and the interior of the Wontong-jeon are a few more highlights, as is the ancient Jindong-nu. And with the close proximity of Donghwasa Temple, Buinsa Temple, and Songnimsa Temple, the Palgongsan area, and Pagyesa Temple in particular, make for a nice day trip to Daegu.