Bongseosa Temple – 봉서사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The quaint Sanshin-gak at Bongseosa Temple in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Southwest of Mt. Bongsusan in northern Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do is the remote Bongseosa Temple. Bongseosa Temple lies up a long valley and at the base of one of the peaks for Mt. Bongsusan.

Up a long stone stairway, you’ll arrive at the edge of the temple courtyard. The first thing to greet you is the compact Manse-ru Pavilion that also acts as the temple entry gate. To the left and right, as you enter the main temple courtyard, are a pair of nuns’ dorms.

Straight ahead, and just beyond the diminutive three tier stone pagoda, is the temple’s equally smaller sized main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned simply with the traditional dancheong colour scheme. Watch your head as you step inside the main hall. Sitting all alone on the main altar sits a solitary statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Joining Seokgamoni-bul inside the main hall are a pair of paintings. The first is the temple’s guardian mural, while the other is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars).

To the right of both the nuns’ dorms and the main hall, and up an embankment, is the Sanshin-gak. Framed by a ridge of twisted red pines, the yellow and red exterior houses an older mural of the shaman deity, Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Bongseosa Temple from Andong is to take a taxi from the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride should take about 30 minutes and cost 27,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. This quaint temple located in one of the lesser travelled parts of Korea makes for a nice little retreat from the everyday with its beautiful views and smaller sized shrine halls. Additionally, the nuns at Bongseosa Temple are quite gracious and might even invite you in for coffee.

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The view from Bongseosa Temple.

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The Manse-ru Pavilion that welcomes you to the temple.

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One of the older looking nuns’ dorms.

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The diminutive main hall and pagoda at Bongseosa Temple.

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A look inside the main hall.

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Which also houses this guardian mural.

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As well as this Chilseong mural.

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The beautiful view from the main hall.

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A look towards the Sanshin-gak between the main hall and the nuns’ dorms.

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A better look at the temple grounds.

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And the older looking Sanshin mural at Bongseosa Temple.

Yongsusa Temple – 용수사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The Sanshin-gak at Yongsusa Temple in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

North of Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and just south of Bonghwa, is Yongsusa Temple. The towering Mt. Yongdusan looms in the background as you make the long trek up to the scenic Yongsusa Temple.

You’ll pass through the slender two pillar Iljumun Gate on your way up to the ridge that holds Yongsusa Temple. When you do finally stand on the ridge that holds this temple, you’ll notice the compact bell pavilion to your left. Inside the compact bell pavilion is a beautiful bronze bell with various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and floral patterns adorning it.

Slightly to the right, and book ended by a pair of long visitors’ dorms, is the temple’s main hall. The Daeung-jeon Hall is surrounded in the front and to the side by three marble replicas of famous pagodas that include Seokga-tap Pagoda and Dabo-tap Pagoda. The originals, of course, can be found at Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju. The exterior walls to this hall are surrounded by Buddhist motif murals like the Sacheonwang (The Four Heavenly Kings). Also, the lotus latticework at the front of the main hall is some of the best that you’ll find in Korea. Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful array of statues and paintings. Resting on the main altar is a seated statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), who is surrounded by a fiery wooden nimbus. Joining the Buddha on the main altar are two standing statues of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Rounding out the interior to the main hall is a wooden guardian relief. And the entire interior of the main hall falls under a beautiful canopy of colourful paper lanterns.

To the left of the main hall is a small enclosure with a weather-worn image of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). And to the far right of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the Sanshin-gak, which lies up a long set of uneven wooden stairs. Inside this shaman shrine hall is one of the best examples of a Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural you’ll find in Korea with its uniquely painted tiger.

HOW TO GET THERE: Either from the Andong train station or the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal, because they are next to each other, you’ll need to exit either one and make your way to the Kyobolife bus stop, which is a three minute walk. From the Kyobolife bus stop, board Bus #67. After 42 stops, or an hour and forty minutes, get off at the Yongsusa Temple stop. From the bus stop, walk 425 metres, or 5 minutes, to Yongsusa Temple.

Additionally, you can take a taxi from the Andong train station or Andong Intercity Bus Terminal. The taxi ride should take 50 minutes and cost 27,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. The main highlights to this hard to get to temple are the Daeung-jeon main altar and the Sanshin mural housed inside the Sanshin-gak. Other points of interest are the temple’s bronze bell and the triad of marble pagoda replicas out in front of the main hall.

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The view of the temple from the temple’s bell pavilion.

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The bronze bell at Yongsusa Temple.

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The Daeung-jeon Hall at Yongsusa Temple.

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The shrine for the ancient Mireuk-bul statue.

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A closer look at what apparently is Mireuk-bul.

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An even closer look at the Future Buddha.

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The amazing latticework at the front of the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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One of the Four Heavenly Kings.

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As well as one of the Buddhist motif murals adorning the main hall.

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A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall during morning prayer.

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A look around the main temple courtyard.

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The marble replica of the Dabo-tap Pagoda with an eye towards the Sanshin-gak.

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A view from the base of the Sanshin-gak.

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The long set of stairs towards the Sanshin-gak.

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The tiger mural painted on one of the exterior walls of the Sanshin-gak.

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The amazing Sanshin mural inside the Sanshin-gak at Yongsusa Temple.

Yeonmisa Temple – 연미사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The Jebiwon Seokbul stone statue at Yeonmisa Temple in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

North-east of the Andong city centre, in Gyeongsangbuk-do, and in Jebiwon, Icheon-dong, is Yeonmisa Temple. Yeonmisa Temple, which means “Swallow Tail Temple,” in English, was first founded in 634 A.D. by the monk Myeongdeok. There used to be a roof over top of the Jebiwon Seokbul statue, which made it look like a swallow’s beak. And because the monks’ dorms, the Yosahche, was located to the rear of the statue and looked like a swallow’s tail, the temple was called Yeonmisa Temple.

During the pro-Confucian period in Korean history during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the temple fell into ruin. It was only during Japanese Colonial rule (1910-45) that Yeonmisa Temple was finally reconstructed in 1934. The temple halls were rebuilt on the original grounds of Yeonmisa Temple. In 1978, the main hall was extended and the temple paintings were added in 1986 completing the main halls current form.

There are several buildings at Yeonmisa Temple, but it’s only the Daeung-jeon Hall at the temple that has things to see for visitors. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with various Buddhist inspired motifs, but the most noteworthy are the masterful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Additionally, the front latticework, which is adorned with radiant wooden flowers, are something to keep an eye out for when exploring the Daeung-jeon Hall’s exterior walls.

As for the interior of the Daeung-jeon Hall, and resting on the main altar, are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This statue is joined by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the right of this triad is the orangish hued Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural. And to the left of the main altar are two additional murals. The first is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and the other is the temple’s guardian mural.

Down a short path to the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the main highlight to the temple: the Jebiwon Seokbul statue of Amita-bul. Along the way, there are several statuettes of various Buddhas, as well as a coin collecting statue of a jovial Podae-hwasang. Finally arriving at the twelve metre tall statue of Amita-bul, you’ll first be greeted by a intimidating statue of a Vajra warrior and a stone lantern.

The Jebiwon Seokbul image of Amita-bul is housed in a stone cul de sac. There is a prayer area in this part of the temple grounds that people can pray to the Buddha of the Western Paradise. Your neck will be strained as you look up at the image. The image was created in two stages. This was a common method during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). The head of the Buddha was first sculpted and then attached to the image carved on the rock wall. The image of Amita-bul stands on a lotus pedestal. There is still a little bit of orange paint left on the head, which indicates that the statue used to be painted. It’s believed that the image was carved sometime in the 11th century. You can get a better idea of the full size and scope of the statue if you stand in the nearby park from some distance. It’s also at the base of the rock that somewhat obscures the full image of the statue that you can read the inscription 아미타불 (Amita-bul), which identifies the specific image of the Buddha. The Jebiwon Seokbul statue is Treasure #115.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal, and to get to Yeonmisa Temple by bus, you’ll need to take Bus #56. After 13 stops, which will take 22 minutes, get off at the Icheon-dong Seokbulsang stop. Walk 167 metres, or three minutes, to get to the temple.

You can take a bus or you can simply take a taxi from the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride should last 12 minutes and cost 7,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. By far, the main highlight to this temple is the 12 metre tall image of Amita-bul at Yeonmisa Temple. The Jebiwon Seokbul statue is easy to access, which only adds to its overall appeal. Other highlights at Yeonmisa Temple is the artwork in and around the Daeung-jeon Hall like the Sanshin mural and the flowery latticework.

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The Daeung-jeon Hall at Yeonmisa Temple.

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A look up at the intricate artwork adorning the main hall.

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A beautiful flower that makes up part of the latticework on the Daeung-jeon Hall doors.

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One of the paintings from the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, mural set.

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The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall with Seokgamoni-bul front and centre.

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The Sanshin mural to the right of the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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The small trail that leads to the main highlight at the temple.

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A diminutive coin collecting statue of Podae-hwasang along the trail.

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A fiercely protective Vajra warrior in front of the Jebiwon Seokbul.

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An up close of the 12 metre tall statue of Amita-bul.

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A better look at the statue of Amita-bul at Yeonmisa Temple from a bit of distance.

Bongjeongsa Temple – 봉정사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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 The second oldest building in all of Korea, the Geukrakjeon hall at Bongjeongsa Temple dates back to 1363.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Bongjeongsa Temple, which is located in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do, was first built in 672 A.D. Fortunately, Bongjeongsa Temple was one of the very few temples in all of Korea to remain undamaged by the destructive Imjin War of 1592. Initially, it had been believed that Bongjeongsa Temple was in fact built by the famed monk, Uisang. The story behind the creation of the temple states that monk Uisang flew on a paper crane and landed at Bongjeongsa Temple after launching from the neighbouring Buseoksa Temple and subsequently established Bongjeongsa Temple. However, this myth was easily disproven when an inscription on the Geukrak-jeon hall was discovered stating that it was in fact Neungin-daedeuk, a disciple of Uisang, that established the temple.

You first approach Bongjeongsa Temple up a trail that winds its way through a mature pine tree forest. You’ll pass by the Iljumun Gate along the way, until eventually you’ll come to the temple parking lot with a bathroom that still has a traditional thatched roof. Just past the temple parking lot, and you’ll get your first amazing view of the temple: the Manseru pavilion. You’ll gain entrance to the temple grounds by passing through the entranceway at the Manseru pavilion. Entering on the other side, and up the uneven set of stairs, you’ll finally be in the temple courtyard. Just behind you, and on the second story of the Manseru pavilion, you’ll find the wooden drum, the fish gong, and the cloud gong.

Straight ahead lays the main hall, the Daeungjeon hall, which dates back to the early Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). This natural wood exterior has a heavily accented roof. Also, the wooden rail that skirts the wooden platform out in front of the main hall is rather unique as it’s usually missing from most modern main halls. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). To the right of the main altar hangs a painting of Jijang-bosal, and on the far right wall is the guardian mural. The Daeungjeon hall is designated National Treasure #55.

To the right of the main hall is the Muryanghaehoe, which is the monks’ quarters. And to the left of the main hall is the Hwaeom Gangdang, which is a study hall that dates back to 1588. This hall is treasure #448 in Korea. And through a pathway that leads from the Daeungjeon hall to the Geukrakjeon hall, you’ll find a weathered statue of Seokgamoni-bul.

Just past this statue, and you’ll find yourself in the presence of the second oldest wooden structure in all of Korea: the Geukrakjeon hall, second to only the main hall at Sudeoksa Temple, which was constructed in 1308. The Geukrakjeon hall at Bongjeongsa Temple dates back to 1363, and it’s National Treasure #15. This hall is plainly painted brown and yellow and the architecture is in sharp contrast in its simplicity to more modern Joseon halls. There is only one door that leads into the hall with slated wooden windows on either side of the hall’s entrance. As for the interior, and sitting all by himself, sits Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).

Out in front of the main hall is a three tier stone pagoda that dates back to the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). To the left of the Geukrakjeon hall and the three tier stone pagoda is the Gogeumdang hall, which dates back to 1616, and it’s designated treasure #449.

To the left of this Geukrakjeon hall courtyard is a colourful bell pavilion that houses a rather large bronze bell. Just up the hill, and up an unmarked and little traveled trail, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. All but for the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) painting, the other two shaman paintings are rather common in their design.

Admission to the temple is 2,000 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Bongjeongsa Temple, you’ll first need to get an intercity bus to the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal. From the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take bus #51 to Bongjeongsa Temple. Bus #51 leaves at 6:10/8:25/10:40/12:50/14:50/17:20/19:00. In total, the bus ride should take about 30 minutes.


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OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. The real attractions to this temple are the number of ancient halls housed at Bongjeongsa Temple. From the second oldest building in all of Korea, to the three additional treasure halls, Bongjeongsa Temple truly has a little bit of everything for the temple historian. While not that large in size, nor that vibrant in colour, you’re coming to Bongjeongsa Temple to see a part of Korea that very few people are able to witness.

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The path that leads up to Bongjeongsa Temple.

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The stately Iljumun Gate at Bongjeongsa Temple.

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The thatched roof bathroom at Bongjeongsa Temple.

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The amazing front facade at Bongjeongsa Temple.

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The Manseru pavilion that you pass under to gain access to the rest of the temple.

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The view as you climb towards the Manseru pavilion.

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The rounded entrance to the temple just beneath the Manseru pavilion.

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A look inside the second floor of the Manseru pavilion with the wooden drum and cloud gong front and centre.

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The early Joseon era main hall at Bongjeongsa Temple.

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The front facade at the Daeungjeon hall.

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Next to the main hall, and through a corridor, lies this weathered statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).

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A look at the ancient Geukrakjeon hall at Bongjeongsa Temple. Notice the unique design in sharp contrast to the neighbouring main hall.

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A look inside the Geukrakjeon hall reveals the solitary Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise).

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The Goryeo era three tier pagoda out in front of the Geukrakjeon hall.

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A look at both the ancient hall and pagoda at Bongjeongsa Temple.

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The bell pavilion at Bongjeongsa Temple.

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The hillside Samseong-gak.

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The Chilseong (The Seven Stars) painting inside the Samseong-gak.

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And the rather ordinary looking Sanshin painting, as well.