National Treasure #10 housed at Baekjangam Hermitage in Namwon, Jeollabuk-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
Baekjangam Hermitage lies a kilometer up a mountainside road. Baekjangam Hermitage is a small hermitage with only a couple shrine halls to visit. Immediately, you’ll see the newly built main hall standing front and centre. Hidden behind this beautiful structure is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall that is joined by the monks’ dorms to the far right.
Out in front of the main hall is the highlight to Baekjangam Hermitage. The three-story stone pagoda is National Treasure #10, which is quite extraordinary for this out of the way hermitage to house. But that’s the charm of Korean temples: the hidden treasures that are tucked away throughout the Korean countryside. This pagoda dates back to the Unified Silla Period in Korean history, which lasted from 668 A.D. to 935 A.D. This pagoda is unconventional in its design with its base being as wide as the body. The pagoda is well preserved with various Bodhisattvas and guardians carved on its base. In addition, a lotus design is carved just below the finial, which is also well preserved. Behind the pagoda is an equally old stone lantern that dates back to the 8th century. While rather plain in comparison to the neighbouring stone lantern at Silsangsa Temple, it does have a nice lotus-shaped design just below the open chamber. In front of the pagoda and stone lantern are four stupas and a top to a stone lantern.
Behind this collection of stone monuments is the main hall. Painted on the exterior walls are guardian murals, as well as painted depictions of both the stone lantern and the famed pagoda. Sitting inside the main hall are a triad of statues upon the altar. The shiny statue in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). To the right of this altar is the older looking guardian mural, and the interior walls are painted with Nahan murals. Between both the guardian mural and the statues sitting on the main altar is a painted representation of the altar statues.
Just to the right rear is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. This low ceilinged, and natural wood exterior, has a couple of beautiful shaman paintings inside. To the right is the vibrantly painted Dokseong (The Recluse) mural. And to the left hangs an older looking mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), who holds a large green leafed fan in hand. This hall is backed by a lush bamboo forest.
HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll need to get to Namwon Intercity Bus Terminal, whether you live in Seoul or Busan. From the Namwon Terminal, pretty much the only way you can get to Baekjangam Hermitage is by taxi. It will take 40 minutes, and it’ll cost you 28,000 won.
OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. Without doubt, the main highlight to this temple is National Treasure #10. This 8th century stone pagoda is well preserved with vivid depictions of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas around its body. It’s joined by ancient stupas and an equally older looking stone lantern. The cavernous main hall houses a shiny new collection of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas on the main altar. And the paintings inside the shaman shrine hall are certainly something not to be missed. So if you’re visiting the neighbouring Silsangsa Temple, make sure you drop by and visit Baekjangam Hermitage, as well.
The mountains where you can find Baekjangam Hermitage.
All of the hermitage halls and stone structures.
One of the stupas in front of the historic pagoda.
Another well preserved stupa.
Both the historic stone lantern and pagoda housed in front of the main hall.
A closer look at some of the Bodhisattvas carved onto the pagoda.
Another image of the guardians etched near the top of the pagoda.
The front facade to the colourful main hall.
A painted representation of the pagoda on the right side of the main hall.
Two of the statues sitting on the main altar: Seokgamoni-bul and Gwanseeum-bosal.
They’re joined by Jijang-bosal.
The older looking guardian mural hanging on the right wall.
To the right rear of the main altar is a painted representations of the statues.
The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
A vibrant mural of Dokseong.
The older looking mural dedicated to Sanshin.