As you first approach the abandoned Bokcheonjeongsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
Hello Again Everyone!!
So this is a first for me: an abandoned temple. Located in southwestern Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, just below the towering peak of Mt. Togoksan (855m), is Bokcheonjeongsa Temple. The abandoned temple formerly belonged to the Cheontae-jong Buddhist Order.
You first approach the temple up an equally abandoned road that brings you to within 800 metres of Bokcheonjeongsa Temple. The rest of the way is up an overgrown trail. In parts, the trail is completely covered for several metres in leaves that make the climb a bit slippery and treacherous. In total, from where the road ends and the mountain trail begins, the climb will take about thirty minutes (and it’s quite the climb).
Finally having arrived at the base of Bokcheonjeongsa Temple, it almost seems like a ghost town with several buildings with their windows smashed out. It’s actually quite haunting. When first approaching the temple grounds, you’ll notice the kitchen and temple facilities to the right of you in a white building. And to the left is large yellow building that looks to have been the former monks’ dorms.
It’s straight ahead, that you’ll find the two story main hall at the abandoned temple. You can gain access to both shrine halls. On the first floor, it almost looks to have been a shrine hall for Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise); but without any shrine hall statues or paintings around, this is just a guess. This shrine hall has been stripped clean of its former self.
Climbing up the stairs to the right, you’ll be able, like the first, to gain admittance to what was formerly the Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Upon first entering, you’ll notice a flowery altar to your left. A little further along, and on the main altar, hangs a painting dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This is the only painting that still remains at the temple.
To the left of the main hall, and on the elevated upper courtyard, is an overgrown pathway that leads towards what looks like the former head monk’s dorm. It’s between the upper and lower courtyard at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple that you see a set of stone cairns.
To the rear of the main hall is a shrine hall that looks as though it was formerly dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). The reason I say this is that there is a slow flowing waterfall that collects at the base in a beautiful clear pool of water.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Mulgeum train station in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, you should catch a taxi from there. The taxi ride up to the temple, or at least as far as the road will allow, will take about 36 minutes (17,000 won). And depending on where the taxi lets you off, it will take an additional 30 minutes to hike the remaining 800 metres up the hiking trail. Not easy, but doable.
OVERALL RATING: 6/10. The views from Bokcheonjeongsa Temple down from the heights of Mt Togoksan are breath-taking. This temple was much larger than I thought, and it must have once been a very beautiful temple. But without people and the spirituality associated with a Korean Buddhist temple, the abandoned buildings and the winter landscape make Bokcheonjeongsa Temple appear hauntingly eerie. If abandoned places are your thing, then this temple is a must see.
The climb up Mt. Togoksan where Bokcheonjeongsa Temple is located.
The abandoned temple first coming into view.
The windowless residence for former monks at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.
The kitchen and temple facilities that have held up a bit better than the monks’ dorms.
A bridge that leads to a garden like island at the temple.
The two story main hall at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.
The abandoned main altar inside the first floor shrine hall.
And the view to the right.
And the view to the far right wall and the altar without altar pieces.
The view from the second story hall.
The flowery altar as you first step inside the second story shrine hall.
The second story shrine hall painting of Jijang-bosal.
The amazing view from the second story shrine hall.
And a different angle to the right of the second story shrine hall.
A pathway that leads up towards another abandoned building at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.
And the abandoned building that the pathway leads up towards.
Another overgrown, and haunting image, of the abandoned temple.
Some of the cairns between the storage shed and the monks’ dorms.
A look up towards the main hall.
The former shrine behind the main hall.
A ray of sunlight through the face of the mountain.
Some ice building up at the edge of a pool of water.
From a rather dry waterfall that falls freely to the back of the temple grounds.
And the pool where the water collects.
Watch your step as you make your way down the mountain.