The fence that protects the earthly remains of Seokgamoni-bul housed at Dasolsa Temple in Sacheon, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
I had long wanted to visit the western part of Gyeongnam province. And fortunately for me, my vacation allowed me some time to explore this little visited part of Korea.
Dasolsa Temple (다솔사), in Sacheon, Gyeongsangnam-do, is situated on the banks of Mt. Imyeongsan. It’s an older temple that dates back to 503 A.D., when it was established by the famous monk Yeongi. Originally, the temple was called Yeongaksa Temple. Afterwards, famous monks like Jajang-yulsa and Uisang resided at this temple. Not long after, the temple continued to expand. The name of the temple then changed to Yeongbongsa Temple. Finally, the temple’s name was changed to its present name by the very famous Doseon, who was famous for his geomancy theories. Unfortunately, the temple has burnt down to the ground three times in its history. The first, like a lot of important temples in Korea, dates back to the Imjin War (1592-1598). The most recent temple fire took place in December, 1914, and it consumed all of the temple buildings except for the Daeyangru Hall.
When you first arrive at the temple, and step into the temple parking lot, it’s a bit confusing where you should go to see the temple. It isn’t well marked. However, the easiest way to get to the temple grounds is to head left towards the temple washrooms. You can also head right, but this is the roundabout way of getting to Dasolsa Temple.
Climbing the first set of stairs that leads up to the temple courtyard, you’ll be greeted by the Daeyangru Hall. It was first built in 1748 for religious events. This pavilion is unique because it lacks inner pillars; instead, it’s supported by a girder system that is nothing more than 10 metres long. There are some beautiful scenic paintings that adorn the exterior of this hall.
To the left of this historic hall, you’ll finally enter into the main courtyard at the temple. As you enter the courtyard, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful main hall. To the right of the main hall are the monks’ dorms and the visitors centre/temple office. Stepping up to the main hall, you’ll see that the exterior walls of the hall are adorned with simple, yet beautiful, Palsang-do murals, which depict the life of the Historical Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul. As for the interior of the main hall, you’ll instantly be struck by the window that rests above the main altar. Much like Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, Dasolsa Temple purportedly houses the partial remains of Seokgamoni-bul. Looking out from the dark main hall, and out into the light where Seokgamoni-bul’s remains rest inside of a budo, you can’t help but be touched. The window is framed by a flying Biseon and a golden Seokgamoni-bul statue that is lying down and preparing to enter Nirvana. As for the rest of the main hall, there is a stunning guardian painting to the left of the main altar.
To the immediate right of the main hall is the Geungnak-jeon hall dedicated to Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Afterlife). It was re-built in 1910. Sitting on the main altar, and backed by a beautiful mural, is Amita-bul. In this hall, Amita-bul is surrounded by shaman deities. To his immediate left is San shin (The Mountain Spirit). And next to San shin are the murals dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and Dokseong (The Recluse). And to the right of the main altar, is a unique mural dedicated to one of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. And next to this highly unique mural is a mural dedicated, once more, to Amita-bul. This hall has a long history and is packed with various Buddhist and shaman murals.
To the left of the Geungnak-jeon is the Eungjin-jeon, which is dedicated to the Nahan, which were the 16 Disciples of the Historical Buddha. The hall was rebuilt in 1690, and it was further repaired, like most of the temple buildings at Dasolsa Temple, in 1930. As you step into this hall, you’ll be welcomed by the 16 Nahan, as well as a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) sitting on the main altar.
Squeezed between the main hall and the Eungjin-jeon, is a platform area that houses the budo that houses the purported earthly remains of Seokgamoni-bul. And unlike Tongdosa Temple, you can get fairly close to the budo. Finally, and to the far left of the main hall, is a short budo and a shrine that once housed a statue. Now, this area is empty all but for a stone sign.
HOW TO GET THERE: First, from wherever you are in Korea, you’ll have to get to the Sacheon Intercity Bus Terminal. From the Sacheon Intercity Bus Terminal, it seems like the only way to get to Dasolsa Temple is to take a taxi because there’s no bus to get there. The trip from the bus terminal takes about 25 minutes, or 24.3 kilometres, and it’ll set you back about 18,000 won.
OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Dasolsa Temple has a long history. And it’s from this long history that the likes of the Daeyangru Hall exists. Additionally, there are the purported remains of Seokgamoni-bul houses behind the main hall. And finally, the artwork housed inside the Geungnak-jeon are some of the more original paintings of various deities that I’ve seen in awhile. While it’s a bit of a trek out to Dasolsa Temple in Sacheon, Gyeongsangnam-do, it’s worth the effort.