Bogwangsa Temple – 보광사 (Dong-gu, Busan)

Inside the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas at Bogwangsa Temple in Dong-gu, Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

North of Sujeong Tunnel, and southwest of Mt. Palgeumsan (236m), is where you’ll find Bogwangsa Temple in Busan. This modern temple can be found up a long narrow road that leads up from the mountain’s base.

Finally looking up from the temple’s parking lot, you’ll see the main gate precariously placed on the edge of a mountain ledge. Up the side-winding stairs, you’ll be welcomed by a gate that has Vajra warrior paintings framed by a blue background. And up above, you’ll see an intricate dragon mural.

Through the wooded gates, you’ll gain entry to the stacked temple grounds. Looking back, you’ll notice that the main temple gate also acts as the temple’s bell pavilion on the second floor. There’s a large bronze temple bell that takes up residence in this pavilion.

Straight ahead of you sits the main hall at Bogwangsa Temple. Out in front are a pair of beautiful lion based lanterns reminiscent of the ones at the famed Beopjusa Temple. Surrounding the exterior walls are simplistic Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals, as well as intricate dancheong colour patterns.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues seated inside a glass enclosure. Seated in the centre is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). This statue is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). To the right of this main altar is a shrine devoted to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This slender, green haired statue of Jijang-bosal is backed by an intricate, red mural of the Bodhisattva. To the left of the main altar is another red mural. This red mural is the temple’s Taenghwa Shinjung, guardian mural.

To next shrine hall visitors can explore to the right, and almost stacked on the main hall, is the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas. Housed inside this large shrine hall, as the name kind of gives away, are one thousand all-white statues of the Buddha. The interior is colourfully painted, and a more modern guardian mural than the one inside the main hall hangs on the far left wall of the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.

Past the low hanging eaves to both the main hall and the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas, you’ll follow a pathway up to the Samseong-gak. Along the way, have a close look at the beautiful artwork that adorns the exterior walls and roof of the main hall. From the perch where the Samseong-gak is located, you’ll get a beautiful view of Busan in the valley below. Stepping inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, you’ll notice yet another red hued painting; this time, this mural, in a set of three, is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). To the left and right of the Chilseong mural are two modern paintings, beautiful in composition, dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Beomnaegol subway station, line #1, stop #118, you’ll need to leave the station and find the the bus stop called the “Beomnaegol Station Stop.” From this stop, take Bus #86. After 4 stops, get off at the bus stop called “Beomil Chodeunghakgyo Stop,” which is an elementary school stop. From this stop, walk three minutes, or 266 metres, to get to Bogwangsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. There are several beautiful highlights to this modern temple like the beautiful shaman murals, the large Hall of 1,000 Buddhas with its modern guardian mural, the murals surrounding the main temple gate, as well as the Buddhist statues inside Bogwangsa Temple’s main hall. As you can see, there’s quite a bit to see at this little known temple in Busan.

A look up at the entry gate at Bogwangsa Temple.

A beautiful panoramic view of the murals inside the entry gate at the temple.

A look up at the dragon mural that adorns the ceiling to the entry gate.

The main hall at Bogwangsa Temple.

A look up at the intricate eaves.

One of the simplistic Ox-Herding murals that adorns the exterior wall to the main hall.

A look inside the main hall at the main altar with Amita-bul in the middle joined by Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal.

The Jijang-bosal shrine to the right of the main altar.

Joined to the left by this Shinjung Taenghwa, guardian mural.

The bell pavilion that’s positioned above the entry gate at Bogwangsa Temple.

A look between the main hall and the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.

The amazing interior of the Hall of 1,000 Buddhas.

To the left of the 1,000 white Buddhas is this newer in style guardian mural.

An up close look at the tiles on the roof of the main hall.

A look up at the Samseong-gak at Bogwangsa Temple.

A pretty nice view over the temple buildings down towards Busan.

The Chilseong mural inside the Samseong-gak.

The lonely looking mural dedicated to Dokseong.

And a rather original mural, housed inside the Samseong-gak, dedicated to Sanshin.

Bogwangsa Temple – 보광사 (Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The historic Manse-ru Pavilion at Bogwangsa Temple in Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located just north of the Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do city centre is Bogwangsa Temple. Bogwangsa Temple was first constructed by Uisang-daesa in the 7th century. Later, in the 14th century, the temple was designated the protector of the Cheongsong Shim family (a little more on that later).

You first approach Bogwangsa Temple up a long country road. If you’re driving, be careful because the road has undergone a fair bit of reconstruction and there are sharp rocks along the way. Don’t be like me and slice a tire open along the way.

The first signs that you’re nearing the temple are the turtle-based stele out in front of the temple grounds. A little further along, and past the temple parking lot, is the Manse-ru Pavilion that separates the outer world with the inner temple courtyard. The Manse-ru Pavilion was first constructed in 1429 as a place for the Cheongsong Shim family to meet. In fact, King Sejong ordered this pavilion to be built for his wife, Queen Soheon (1395-1446), to whom her family belonged to the Cheongsong Shim clan.

Passing to the right of the Manse-ru Pavilion, and before you enter the main temple courtyard, you’ll probably be welcomed to the temple by a friendly female Jindo dog. For the rest of your trip around the temple grounds, she’ll probably keep you company.

Having finally stepped into the main temple courtyard, you’ll first see the diminutive Geukrak-jeon main hall in front of you. Out in front of this hall is an equally smaller sized three tier stone pagoda. As for the Geukrak-jeon Hall, it was first constructed in 1429, alongside the Manse-ru Pavilion. Sometime during the early to mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the Geukrak-jeon Hall was destroyed. It wasn’t until the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty, and during its renovation, that it was discovered that the newly built Geukrak-jeon Hall had been formerly constructed in 1615.

While the exterior walls to this hall are largely unadorned, it’s while stepping inside the main hall that you’ll be welcomed by beautiful murals and statues. Resting on the main altar are a triad of uniquely made sculptures. In the centre rests Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power and Wisdom for Amita-bul). This triad is then backed by a new altar mural. Filling out the rest of the main hall is a guardian mural in the same style as the large main altar painting.

To the left rear of the main hall is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Slightly elevated over top of the Geukrak-jeon Hall, and all but unadorned, once more, you’ll be welcomed inside the shaman shrine hall by a triad of shaman paintings. The first of the three, and in the far left corner, is an elaborate Sanshin mural dedicated to the Mountain Spirit. This mural is joined to the right by an older mural of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) as well as Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

The other buildings at Bogwangsa Temple are buildings for the nuns like the nuns’ dorms and the temple kitchen.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest and fastest way to get to Bogwangsa Temple is to take a taxi from the Cheongsong Intercity Bus Terminal. By taxi it should take 10 minutes and cost 3,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Bogwangsa Temple has a royal past that’s linked closely to the famed King Sejong. The historic Manse-ru Pavilion and the Geukrak-jeon main hall are a close link to this past. And when you add into the mix the beautiful temple artwork like the main altar statues and paintings, as well as the elaborate Sanshin mural inside the Samseong-gak, and Bogwangsa Temple makes for a nice little trip outside Cheongsong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

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The turtle-based stele at the entry of Bogwangsa Temple.

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The temple grounds as you first approach Bogwangsa Temple.

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The friendly Jindo dog with the diminutive three tier pagoda next to her.

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A look inside the historic Manse-ru Pavilion at Bogwangsa Temple.

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The 17th century Geukrak-jeon Hall.

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The doily that welcomes you inside the main hall.

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The main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

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A closer look at Amita-bul that centres the main altar.

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The guardian mural inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

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What a view!!

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left rear of the main hall.

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The elaborate Sanshin mural at Bogwangsa Temple.

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As well as the Chilseong mural.

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And the Jindo exhausted after our little walk around the temple grounds.

Bogwangsa Temple – 보광사 (Ulju-gun, Ulsan)

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The temple courtyard and main gate at Bogwangsa Temple in Ulsan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In the very southwestern part of Ulsan, and next to Tongdosa Temple under Mt. Yeongchuksan, is Bogwangsa Temple. Located in and amongst the small factories and one rooms is this assuming temple.

First approaching from a rural road, you’ll be welcomed to the temple by a beautifully adorned front gate. This gate is elaborately painted with two Biseon adorning the front gates. Both Biseon (Flying Angels) are making offerings.

Once you’ve entered the compact temple grounds, you’ll notice a small garden to your right and the first story of the main hall to your left. The first floor to the main hall is occupied with a visitors’ centre and the temple kitchen. It’s only up a set of stairs to the far right of the first floor that you’ll in fact find the main hall on the second floor of the two story structure.

Around the exterior walls to the main hall are a collection of beautiful murals. The first set, which is the largest, is the Palsang-do set which depict the eight scenes from the Buddha’s life. Above this set, and up near the eaves rather uniquely, are the much smaller Shimu-do, Ox-herding, murals. And spaced between these sets, and decorating the hall’s pillars, are the Four Heavenly Kings, as well as various guardians. Buttressing both ends of paintings are two elaborate paintings dedicated to an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). One other unique feature to the outside paintings are a pair of side-ward leaning Nathwi. Typically, the eyes to these Monster Mask murals are pointed sideways and not the entire mask.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll first notice a large, golden canopy that spans the entire length of the main altar. The triad sitting on the main altar is centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). To the left of the main altar is a large mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). While to the right hangs a beautiful mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). If you look closely, you’ll notice a dongja (attendant) offering Sanshin an immortal peach. The only other mural in this hall is a large guardian mural, which is somewhat unique in its composition.

HOW TO GET THERE: From Tongdosa Temple, you can catch a taxi to get to Bogwangsa Temple. It should take about 10 minutes, or 3.9 km, and cost you 4,500 won.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. The murals and paintings spread throughout the main hall, both inside and out, are what distinguish Bogwangsa Temple. From the Sanshin mural inside the main hall to the sideways Nathwi, the Four Heavenly Kings that are on pillars, and the sets of Palsang-do and Shimu-do murals, the intricacy and beauty of all these murals will be enough to keep you busy for some time. So take your time and enjoy their mastery.

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A look at both the entry gate and main hall at Bogwangsa Temple.

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The elaborately painted gate at the temple.

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One of the Biseon that adorns one of the entry gate’s doors.

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The garden at the temple.

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The dual exterior wall paintings on the main hall. The larger Palsang-do murals are on the bottom, while the much smaller Shimu-do murals are up near the eaves.

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A painting of Gwanseeum-bosal that adorns the exterior wall of the main hall.

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The uniquely painted dual masks of the Nathwi on the main hall.

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On each of the major pillars of the main hall are the Four Heavenly Kings.

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The elaborate and extensive golden canopy that hovers over top of the main altar of the main hall.

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The decorative mural of Bohyun-bosal that’s painted above the entry at the main hall.

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The large guardian mural housed inside the main hall.

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The beautiful Sanshin mural.

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And a better look across the main altar at Bogwangsa Temple.