Cheongryeonam Hermitage – 청련암 (Daegu, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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Cheongryeonam Hermitage to the east of Namjijangsa Temple in southern Daegu.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Cheongryeonam Hermitage is located east of its affiliated Namjijangsa Temple. Both are located in southern Daegu on the south side of Mt. Choijeongsan (905m). Like Namjijangsa Temple, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was first constructed in 684 A.D. by a monk named Yanggae. Both were constructed on the behest of the Silla king, King Sinmun (r. 681-692). Like Namjijangsa Temple, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was completely destroyed by the invading Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-1598). Cheongryeonam Hermitage, during the Imjin War, was used as a training centre for warrior monks. The hermitage was rebuilt several times from 1653 to 1714. Once more, the hermitage was destroyed by fire in 1806. The current hermitage structures date back to 1808.

Cheongryeonam Hermitage is situated just 200 metres to the east of Namjijangsa Temple through a beautiful lush forest. Past a hillside full of picnic benches, and along the dirt trail, you’ll finally come to the outskirts of the hermitage grounds.

The first thing to greet you, as you make your way towards the eastside entry gate, is a tall traditional stone fence. Upon entering the squeaky three door gate, you’ll be welcomed by an “L” shaped main hall, which also acts as the monks’ dorms.

To the right of the main hall is a storage shed, which is joined by a biseok statue. As to the left of the main hall, there is the hermitage’s garden from which the monks draw sustenance. It’s also joined by another storage shed.

To the rear of the main hall, and the real highlight to this temple, is the unpainted Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. The shaman shrine hall is surrounded on all sides by dense shrubs and hydrangeas. On the front side of the Samseong-gak are four fading paintings of guardians. As you step inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, you’ll be welcomed by a collection of paintings dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). These paintings are joined on the far right wall by an older, yet beautiful, guardian mural. Also, have a look at the low-lying beams inside this shaman shrine hall. In particular, look for the vibrant murals of the blue dragons.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Daegu train station, walk about 15 minutes (930 metres), to get to Chilseong market (where the NH Bank is located) bus stop. Take the bus that reads “Gachang2” on it. After 50 stops, or one hour, get off at the “Urokri” (last stop) and walk about 2.7 km, or 41 minutes, to get to the temple. When at Namjijangsa Temple, head right while travelling through the temple parking lot. Head up a dirt road for about 200 metres until you come to Cheongryeonam Hermitage.

You can take a bus or simply take a taxi from the Daegu train station. The ride takes about 50 minutes and costs 23,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. Cheongryeonam Hermitage is beautifully located on the southern side of Mt. Choijeongsan. The trail leading up to the hermitage is one of the more beautiful you’ll find in this area. But without a doubt, the real highlight to this temple is the unpainted Samseong-gak; and rather strangely, the tall stone wall that acts as a barrier between the outside world and Cheongryeonam Hermitage is a highlight, as well.

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The dirt road that leads up to the hermitage.

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The beautiful vista along the way.

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The dirt road and forest as you near Cheongryeonam Hermitage.

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The entry gate to the diminutive hermitage.

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The main hall and monks’ living quarters at Cheongryeonam Hermitage.

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The hermitage’s garden and storage shed.

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The path that leads up to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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A look up at the camouflaged Samseong-gak shaman shrine.

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Rather uniquely, the Samseong-gak is unpainted all but for the four guardians at the entries.

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One of the decorative guardians.

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As well as another.

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The Sanshin mural housed inside the Samseong-gak.

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The older guardian mural housed inside the Samseong-gak, as well.

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This blue decorative dragon adorns one of the Samseong-gak’s roof beams.

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And the view from the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

Chungryunam Hermitage – 청련암 (Busan)

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A Biseon dancing around in the statue courtyard with a golden Buddha at her back at Chungryunam Hermitage, near Beomeosa Temple, in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Continuing on our visit to Beomeosa Temple, and the hermitages to the right of the temple, we decided to go to Chungryunam Hermitage (청련암). Actually, we had always intended this to be our first hermitage to visit, but we spotted Jijangam Hermitage along the way.

Chungryunam Hermitage means Blue Lotus Hermitage. And it’s the closest hermitage to Beomeosa Temple. As you first approach the hermitage from the hermitage’s parking lot, you’ll notice some beautiful Roses of Sharon and blue chrysanthemums in full bloom. Past these flowers are a pair of stone guardians at the entrance of the temple. What is most impressive about the hermitage is the U-shaped enclave that houses numerous statues, which you will see as you climb a set of stairs. To the right is the Seonmudo Hall of martial arts. Like Golgulsa Temple in Gyeongju, Chungryunam Hermitage also practices the ancient martial art. Walking past the twin Haetae, mythical creatures that both consume and control fire, you’ll stand at the foot of the statue enclave. In the centre of this enclave is a golden Buddha. Surrounding this golden Buddha are various Bodhisattvas, Guardians, and Biseon. At the back of the enclave, perched on the concrete wall, are two large standing statues. The white one on the left is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), while the contemplative one to the right is Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). To the front of the statues are twelve smaller sized zodiac statues. And at the very front of the statue enclave are Biseon dancing around, with Guardians protecting all, including a beautiful green coppered incense burner with a dragon base.

To the left of this statue enclave is the main hall. The main hall, much like Golgulsa Temple, sports numerous highly original paintings. There are a twin set of paintings adorning the external walls of the main hall. On top are various paintings depicting the various incarnations of the Buddha, while on the bottom there are various pictures associated with the Seonmudo martial arts. Inside the main hall, on the altar, is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Light). On either side of Birojana-bul is Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). All three are backed by a pair flaming golden nimbuses. To the left of the main altar is the Yeongsan Assembly painting; and to the left of that is the guardian painting with Dongjin-bosal (The Protector of the Buddha’s Teachings) at the centre of the painting.  Uniquely, there are dozens of smaller sized black statues adorning the left wall. In front of the hermitage, there is a uniquely designed stone pagoda much like the one at Golgulsa Temple. There seems to be a lot these two holy sites have in common. Behind the main hall, there’s a smaller sized shrine hall that is also illustrated with paintings depicting various acts and practices of Seonmudo. To the far left, there’s the monk’s study hall and dorm. The exterior of the monk’s dorm and study hall are paintings of various Buddhist saints. In front of this holy structure, there’s an impressively intricate stone lantern with a mythological bird adorning the top of it.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to Chungryunam Hermitage in one of two ways. In both scenarios you first have to take the Busan subway, line one, to Beomeosa station and take exit #1. Here, you can either walk up the thirty minute hike to Beomeosa Temple, or you can walk a block uphill to the bus stop where you can take bus #90 to the nearby entrance of Beomeosa Temple. Instead of walking left towards the Iljumun Gate, continue to hang right towards the hermitage. You’ll pass by Beomeosa Temple, which will be to your left. There will be a sign halfway between the temple and the hermitage, which will read 청련암,continue to follow these signs as they lead you right of the main temple. Eventually, you’ll come to a small parking lot. The path will fork like a “W.” The hermitage to the left is Chungryunam Hermitage.

Admission to the hermitage is free.

View 청련암 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. Chungryunam Hermitage has a lot to offer the Korean temple adventurer. First, it has beautiful flowers that welcome you to the temple like the blue mums and lavender Roses of Sharon. Past these flowers is an amazing enclave of statues depicting various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Guardians, and Biseon. To the left of this is the main hall, which is decorated with some extremely unique and rare paintings, much like the ones that illustrate different practices of the Seonmudo martial arts. Another highlight to the hermitage is the intricately designed stone lantern in front of the monk’s dorms and study hall. So if you have the time, and the inclination to see something beyond Beomeosa Temple, I highly recommend you check out Chungryunam Hermitage!

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The path that leads up to the courtyard at Chungryunam Hermitage.
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The beautiful blue and purple chrysanthemums that were in bloom at the entrance to the hermitage.
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A view of the enclave that houses numerous Buddha, Bodhisattva, Guardian and Biseon statues.
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A better look at some of the statues, including a golden Buddha.
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The gate that leads into the statue enclave.
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Yet another angle of the beautiful bronze statues.
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The golden Buddha in the background is Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).  Because he has so much time, 5,670,000,000 years until his incarnation, he sits contemplatively.
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On the left is the white Gwanseeum-bosal (The Buddha of Compassion), and on the right is Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).
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In the centre sits a golden Buddha on a lotus chair.
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A better look at the beautiful Buddha statue at Chungryunam Hermitage.
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The elaborate incense burner that fronts the enclave.
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A beautiful view of the neighbouring mountains, and the hall dedicated to the practice of Seonmudo.
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A ferocious lion protects the main hall, with the unique pagoda and the monk dorm in the background.
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The main hall at Chungryunam Hermitage.
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A guardian painting by the door on the right side of the main hall.
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A meditative painting on the exterior walls of the main hall.
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A painting symbolizing the insight and enlightenment arrived at during meditation.
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A cartoonized version of the unique pagoda in the hermitage courtyard that is also at Golgulsa Temple. It has something to do with the practice of Seonmudo martial arts.
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A scary and fierce painting adorning the left side wall at the hermitage.
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Another of the guardian paintings on the left side of the main hall.
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A shrine hall behind the main hall. It’s decorated with paintings illustrating the practice of Seonmudo.
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The main altar at Chungryunam Hermitage. In the centre is Birojan-bul (The Buddha Cosmic Energy). On either side is Moonsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power. All three are backed by a twin pair of flaming nimbuses.
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To the left of the main hall is the guardian painting. To the left of this painting are rows of tiny Buddha statues.
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And in front of the monk’s dorm is this beautifully ornate stone lantern.