The temple courtyard at Miraesa Temple in Tongyeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone,
The final temple that I visited in my 4 city, 7 temple, whirlwind tour of western Gyeongsangnam-do was Miraesa Temple up in the mountains of Tongyeong. It was definitely a temple that surprised me with its aesthetic beauty.
As you walk up to the temple courtyard at Miraesa Temple, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful pond to your left and a dragon-headed bridge that spans its depths. Interestingly, and nothing really to do with the temple itself, but more with the kindness and charity of Buddhism, are the wheelchairs that are waiting free of charge at the entrance of the temple for those that require one.
As for the temple gate itself, it’s rather unique both in its length and for the murals inside of the gate. Usually, it is customary just to have either statues or paintings of the Cheonwang (Heavenly Kings) inside the gate; however, the Cheonwang paintings that immediately greet you at the gate are joined by murals of the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha).
After passing through the temple gate, you’ll be greeted by the beautifully manicured grounds. The lead up to the temple courtyard was a bit of a precursor, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the greenery of the courtyard. To your immediate right and left are the monks facilities like their dorms, kitchen, and administrative office. Straight ahead, and halfway between the temple gate and the main hall is a three-tiered pagoda slightly to the right. In the style of the Unified Silla period, this pagoda is joined by surrounding white and pink lotus flowers that were fully in bloom when I visited the temple.
Beyond the pagoda is the beautifully situated main hall. Around its exterior walls are the decorative Shimu-do (Ox-Herding) murals that are customarily designed. The eaves of the exterior are adorned with various Nahan, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas, as well as extremely ornate dragon-heads. As for the atypical interior of the main hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and a statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right. They are joined by a beautiful guardian mural on the far right of the main hall wall, as well as a stately statue of Dongjin-bosal (The Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings). This mural interrupts the flow of Palsang-do murals that line the interior walls of the main hall. Starting from the right side of the main altar, and winding its way around the interior, the Palsang-do murals that depict the eight stages of Seokgamoni-bul’s life finish to the left of the main altar. These murals are beautifully executed and a worth a second look.
The final hall of any significance at Miraesa Temple is the hall to the left of the main hall. This hall is dedicated to the famous monks that have resided at Miraesa Temple. Lining the walls of this hall are the customary Buddhist paintings of prominent monks.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Miraesa Temple, you’ll first have to get to Tongyeong and the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal. From the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll have to take city bus #105. From the Intercity Bus Station to the Miraesa Temple entrance stop, you’ll have to ride the bus for 43 stops. And then from the stop, you’ll have to walk 2 kilometres up hill. You can either walk it or take a taxi, which should only cost you the starting fare.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Beautifully situated and beautifully maintained, Miraesa Temple is definitely the highlight to the temples located in Tongyeong. From its beautifully manicured grounds, to the lotus flowers that bloom next to the three-tiered pagoda, to the pond out in front of the temple, Miraesa Temple has a lot of natural beauty that can and should be enjoyed. Add into the mix the atypical interior of the main hall that is adorned with the Palsang-do murals, as well as the stunning guardian mural, and you have more than enough reason to visit the little known Miraesa Temple.