Mangwolsa Temple – 망월사 (Gyeongju)

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The temple buildings to the right of the main hall at Mangwolsa Temple in Gyeongju on Mt. Namsan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just to the right of Sambulsa Temple, and standing at the Mt. Namsan parking lot, you’ll notice a temple a mere minute to the right. This temple is Mangwolsa Temple. And you can see it over the four foot high wall that separates it from the rest of the world.

As you approach, you’ll pass through a beautiful gate with fierce looking guardians painted on the doors that protect the temple from evil spirits. Passing through the temple gate, you’ll instantly notice the monks’ facilities to the left and the dorms to the right. These long structures frame the main hall that lies in the middle.

The exterior walls of the main hall are adorned with Shimu-do murals. The monk that’s portrayed in this collection is more Asian than most. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the left, and still on the main altar, is a mural for Wonhyo-daesa. And a bit further to the left is a shrine for the dead. To the right, and next to the main altar, is an older looking guardian mural.

Adjacent, and to the right, is a beautiful pagoda that sits in the elevated centre of a lily pond. The pagoda is simple in design, but it accents the colourful beauty of the pink water lilies when they are in full bloom.

Behind this pond, and situated on the second tier of the temple grounds, are two additional halls. The larger one to the left is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine. The exterior walls are adorned with paintings of the Shinseon (The Daoist Immortals). As for the interior, and sitting in the centre of a collection of three paintings, was a rather standard Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. To the right of this mural is an amazingly descriptive painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Uniquely, and to the left, is what looks to be a painting of Ilgwang-bosal (The Sun Bodhisattva). I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen this triad housed inside a Samseong-gak before.

And to the right of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall is a memorial hall. Inside this small octagonal hall is a black wooden memorial tablet for the dead. To whom and for whom, I’m not all that sure. Potentially, it could be a memorial hall for Wonhyo-daesa, but that’s just a guess on my part.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Mangwolsa Temple, on Mt. Namsan, you’ll first have to get to Gyeongju. Once in Gyeongju, and at the Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch either bus #502 or #504 across from the terminal. Just make sure with the driver that they’re heading in that direction. So simply ask, “Namsan Mangwolsa,” in Korean. You can either take the bus or you can get a taxi to take you. Again, simply say, “Namsan Mangwolsa,” and the driver will do the rest. In total, the trip should cost you about 8,000 won. From where both the bus or the taxi drops you off at the parking lot, the large trail head to Mt. Namsan is straight ahead. Veering to the right at the outdoor bathroom, you’ll see a small trail. Take this trail for 50 metres, and you’ll be standing outside the Mangwolsa Temple gates.


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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. For its originality alone, Mangwolsa Temple gets this sort of rating. From the pagoda water lily pond, to the potential Ilgwang-bosal mural inside the Samseong-gak, to the octagonal memorial hall, this temple is definitely well worth a visit, especially if you’re either visiting Sambulsa Temple or Samneung-gol Valley.

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The trail that leads to Mangwolsa Temple from the neighbouring Sambulsa Temple.

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The gate that leads into the temple courtyard.

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A look up at the main hall at Mangwolsa Temple.

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The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with these unique looking Shimu-do murals.

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Sitting on the main altar inside the main hall is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul in the centre joined by Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal.

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The guardian mural to the right of the main altar.

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The floating pagoda at Mangwolsa Temple.

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These beautiful water lilies were in full bloom all over the pagoda pond.

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A look at the two buildings on the upper tier of the temple grounds. On the left is the Samseong-gak and to the right is a memorial hall.

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The beautiful Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) painting inside the Samseong-gak.

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He’s joined by the unique painting of what looks to be Ilgwang-bosal (The Sun Bodhisattva).

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The memorial hall.

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The black wooden memorial tablet inside the memorial shrine hall.

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One last look at the temple courtyard before I was off to yet another temple in Gyeongju, and on Mt. Namsan.

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