A look inside the opulent Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at Uigoksa Temple in Jinju, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Continuing my exploration of western Gyeongnam province, I decided to stop by Jinju. While Jinju doesn’t have a big name temple like Tongdosa Temple or Haeinsa Temple, there were a couple that I wanted to at least explore, and Uigoksa Temple was one of those temples.
At the end of a road, and through the temple’s parking lot, you’ll be greeted by the stately Cheonwangmun (Heavenly Kings Gate)/bell pavilion. As you pass through the Cheonwangmun, you’ll notice four beautiful renderings of the Heavenly Kings in the midst of the gate.
After passing through the gate, and under the bell pavilion, you’ll enter into the compact temple courtyard. And if you look upwards from where you first came, you’ll be able to see the stout temple bell that’s adorned with various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Biseon. On the immediate right side of the temple courtyard is the monks’ dorms. Interestingly, to your immediate left, and next to the temple’s main office, is a hall for visitors to sit and meditate. When I visited, there were at least ten people sitting and meditating in this hall.
Directly across from the meditation hall, and across the width of the temple courtyard, is the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas. Sitting on the main altar, and in the centre of a triad of statues, is a diminutive statue of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). This triad is surrounded by a thousand white Buddha statues that gives the hall its name. On the right wall is an older looking guardian mural. Strangely, there’s a mural of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) on the floor and at the foot of the guardian mural.
One of the final buildings at Uigoksa Temple is the main hall. The exterior is surrounded by the Shimu-do (Ox-Herding) murals, as well as other murals like the Bodhidharma and Wonhyo’s enlightenment mural. And to the right rear there is a sheer rock face that houses an assortment of Buddhist statues. As for the interior of the hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul. To his left is a statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), and to the right is a regal statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Framing this triad are two paintings on either side of the main altar. To the right is a colourful painting of Jijang-bosal surrounded by the Ten Kings of the Underworld. And to the left is an equally colourful guardian painting with Dongjin-bosal (The Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings) at its centre.
The last building at the temple, and up an embankment to the right rear of the main hall, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. As you enter the hall, you’ll be greeted by a golden wall of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) statues on the left wall. As for the altar, a beautiful rendering of the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural sits in the centre. If you look close enough at the mural, you’ll notice the large headed Bukseong (Northern Star) figure in the top left. His head seems a bit larger than usual. And to the right and left of the Chilseong mural are the San shin and Dokseong (The Recluse) murals, which are good in their own right.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Uigoksa Temple, you’ll first have to get to Jinju Intercity Bus Terminal. From the bus terminal, you’ll easily be able to get a taxi to drive you the 1.8 kilometres it takes to get to Uigoksa Temple. In total, it should only take you ten minutes from the bus terminal to the temple, and it should cost you under 3,000 Won. It’s definitely one of the easier temples to find.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10. While this temple won’t blow you away with what it has to offer, there are a couple unique things to grab your attention like the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas. Also, the murals inside of the Samseong-gak are both unique and expertly executed. And finally, the murals inside of the main hall, as well as the meditation hall for visitors are but a few highlights to Uigoksa Temple in Jinju.