Jeongamsa Temple – 정암사 (Gohan, Gangwon-do)

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The Seven-Tier Stone Pagoda at Jeongamsa Temple in Gangwon-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Jeongamsa Temple, which was first built in 638, was established by Jajang-yulsa to house the Buddha’s remains. The Jeokmyeol Bogung is one of five alongside the famed Tongdosa Temple and Beopheungsa Temple. Nestled amongst the folds of Mt. Hambaeksan, and alongside Jajang Stream, lies the temple.

The first temple buildings at Jeongamsa Temple to greet you are the monks’ dorms and a jovial stone statue of the dharma. Up above, and off in the distance, you can see one of the highlights, the seven-tier stone pagoda hovering over top the temple off on the neighbouring hillside.

The closer you get to the temple courtyard and you’ll see the temple’s bell pavilion, which is uniquely perched alongside the neighbouring stream. Across the bridge to the right and you’ll see the Jeokmyeol Bogung main hall. The brown weather-worn exterior of the hall is plain in appearance. The interior to this hall is void of altar statues much like Tongdosa Temple; instead, a window, which seems to be covered by gold, looks out onto an embankment where the Buddha’s remains are purportedly buried. While not as elaborate as the Geumgang Gyedan Altar at Tongdosa Temple, this shrine is just as venerated as any of the other historic sites that house the Buddha’s remains. Interestingly, and just out in front of the main hall, is a tree that is supposedly from Jajang-yulsa’s walking stick. If true, this would make the tree almost 1400 years old.

Back across the bridge, and you’ll come to a small collection of shrine halls. The first, which almost looks like the monks’ dorms, is the Gwaneeum-jeon. Inside sits a solitary statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Up a set of stairs, and past the temple’s kitchen, are two additional halls. The first of the smaller sized shrine halls is dedicated to the founding monk of Jeongamsa Temple: Jajang-yulsa. The second hall is the Samseong-gak, which houses an emaciated mural of Dokseong (The Recluse), a rather plain looking Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural, and a mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) who wears a rather unique hat/turban.

The final structure to have a look at is the seven-tier brick pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The pagoda, which lies ten minutes up a hillside trail, was built from quartz bricks. Throughout the years, it’s been repaired numerous times with the most recent being 1972, when the Buddha’s sari (crystallized remains) and some scrolls were retrieved from the brick pagoda. There is a door at the base of the pagoda with wind chimes adorning each angle of the pagoda. Out in front is a place for devotees to pray, and you get a great view of the neighbouring countryside and Jeongamsa Temple down below.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gohan Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take the “Manhang” bus. This bus leaves four times a day at 6:40 a.m., 9:50 a.m., 2:10 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. The bus ride only takes ten minutes, and you’ll need to get off at the Jeongamsa stop.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. While smaller in size compared to the more prominent Jeokmyeol Bogung temples, Jeongamsa Temple has a charm all to its own. Because it’s one of the historic repositories of the Buddha’s remains, it rates as highly as it does. But when you add into the mix the seven-tier stone pagoda overlooking the temple, as well as the historic main hall, Jeongamsa Temple can make for a pleasant visit to this remote part of Gangwon-do.

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The beautiful forest and mountains that surround Jeongamsa Temple.

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The jovial dharma with the temple in the background.

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The temple’s bell pavilion.

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The tree that grew from Jajang-yulsa’s staff.

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The Jeokmyeol Bogung at Jeongamsa Temple.

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The hillside shrine halls.

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A look at Dokseong inside the Samseong-gak.

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The uniquely attired Sanshin.

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The view from the shrine hall that houses a painting of Jajang-yulsa.

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The seven-tier brick pagoda that overlooks Jeongamsa Temple.

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A better look at its beauty.

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Jeongamsa Temple down below.

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One last look at the ancient pagoda.

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