Singwangsa Temple – 신광사 (Geoje-do, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The amazing water shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal at Singwangsa Temple on Geoje-do Island.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Having wanted to explore neighbouring Geoje-do Island for quite some time, I finally got the opportunity this past weekend. And it certainly didn’t disappoint, especially when it came to Singwangsa Temple.

You first approach the temple up a set of side-winding back roads, until you see the well-worn Iljumun Gate and a collection of stupas. In an elbow in the road, you’ll finally arrive at the temple parking lot. Just over a grassy bump in the landscape, and a collection of beautifully maintain cedar trees, you’ll be able to see the large main hall.

The exterior walls to the main hall are decorated with some quickly fading Palsang-do murals, which are dedicated to the eight scenes from the Buddha’s life. In addition to this artwork, there is some beautiful latticework of dragons swirling in their wooden frames and Nathwi at the base of the doors. There are three larger, dark wooden coloured, statues sitting on the main altar. They look to be centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s flanked by Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) and Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). These three statues are then joined by four smaller, standing statues. They look to be, starting from the left, Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom), Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). The interior to this massive main hall is cavernous.

Just out in front of the main hall is the temple’s bell pavilion. Surrounding the pavilion on strings are folded letters of peoples’ hopes and dreams. One of the main highlights to this temple lies just to the right of the temple’s bell pavilion. Past a mature tree, and through an opening, you’ll come to an island with Gwanseeum-bosal standing on the second floor of a two tier concrete island. There are two walkways you can gain entrance to this shrine. Also, you can get some pretty amazing pictures of both the shrine, the green water that surrounds this island shrine, and the temple itself.

Just to the right of the main hall, and as you climb a set of stairs to arrive at the upper courtyard, you’ll see a glass shrine dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). It’s just past this shrine, and up a hedge-row pathway, that you’ll come to the artificial cave at Singwangsa Temple. Inside this cave are eight bronze plaques that depict various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Passing by these, you’ll next enter the large cave chamber. Seated in the centre of the chamber is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul that dates back to the early Goryeo Period (918-1392). He’s surrounded on all sides by Buddhas that reside inside the wall.

Up past this cave, and up another set of stairs, you’ll come to a shaman shrine hall that houses both Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Besides being large in size, they are rather plain in design.

Just behind the artificial cave, and to the left of the shaman shrine hall, you’ll come to another clearing. This time, in the centre of it all, is a beautiful stone sculpture dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). He’s joined in this area by the Nahan-jeon hall, which houses 500 beautiful, stone sculptures of the Nahan. Just to the rear of this hall is the Myeongbu-jeon, which is unadorned on its exterior like the Nahan-jeon; however, inside this hall is a beautiful painting of Jijang-bosal, as well as a granite sculpture of the Bodhisattva, as well. Rather strangely, pictures of the deceased are hanging all around the front altar, instead of to the side.

HOW TO GET THERE: Because Singwangsa Temple is actually located closer to the the Tongyeong Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to go to the city of Tongyeong first. And from the Tongyeong Intercity Bus, you’ll need to take a taxi because there’s no bus that goes directly to Singwangsa Temple. The taxi will take about 25 minutes and cost you about 13,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. While it costs a fair bit to drive from Geoje-do Island from Busan, especially when you use the underwater Gadeok Tunnel, Singwangsa Temple certainly didn’t disappoint. The temple is littered with a handful of beautiful shrine halls. And when you add into the mix the artificial cave and the island shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal, and you have more than enough reason to visit the rather special Singwangsa Temple.

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 The ocean-side view from Geoje-do Island.

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 The beautiful landscaping at Singwangsa Temple.

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The large main hall that welcomes you to the temple.

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 The bell pavilion out in front of the main hall.

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 A look across the massive front facade at Singwangsa Temple.

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A look at the main altar inside the main hall.

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 The spectacular green water shrine dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal.

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 The bridge that allows you access to the Bodhisattva.

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 A shrine painting dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King).

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 The entryway to the artificial cave.

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 Your first look as you enter the artificial cave.

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 The ancient statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul that sits front and centre inside the cave.

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 The beautiful view and trail that lead you to the upper courtyard.

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 The shaman shrine hall at Singwangsa Temple.

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 The rather plain, but large, Sanshin mural inside the shaman shrine hall.

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 Both the statue dedicated to Mireuk-bul and the Nahan-jeon hall together.

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 A look inside the Nahan-jeon at the stone sculptures.

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 The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon.

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 And the peaceful view from the Myeongbu-jeon.

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