Botaam Hermitage – 보타암 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The beautifully manicured courtyard at Botaam Hermitage at Tongdosa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

There are still a few hermitages in and around the famed Tongdosa Temple that I have yet to post here on the website. And one of those hermitages, and the closest one to the temple grounds, is Botaam Hermitage.

Botaam Hermitage is a nunnery. In 1927 two nuns named Jaedeok and Hojeon built the hermitage. And in 1935, two nuns named Jeongun and Hojeon helped to enlarge the hermitage to its present size, which is a handful of hermitage buildings.

As you approach the hermitage off the main Tongdosa Temple road, you’ll notice two entrances to the hermitage. To the left is the wider entry to the hermitage. However, this entry is for hermitage workers and nuns that live at Botaam Hermitage. Head to the right, and you’ll come across the beautiful entrance gate to the hermitage. As you pass through the Iljumun Gate, you’ll first see the main hall directly in front of you.  And to its immediate right is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine halls. These are the only two buildings that people can visit at the hermitage.

Sitting on the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon is a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And he’s flanked on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This triad is joined to the side by a beautiful guardian mural and thousands of tiny statues of the Buddha. As for the exterior walls, there are two sets of paintings lining the walls. The ones on top are beautifully illustrated Shimu-do murals (Ox-Herding murals). And below these murals are murals dedicated to the divinity and helpful acts of an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Next to Unmunsa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do, this collection of Gwanseeum-bosal are truly unique and stunning.

Walking across the perfectly manicured courtyard, past flowers that are in bloom during the springtime months, you’ll next notice Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Adorning the altar inside the shrine hall are three beautiful paintings. In the centre is a large black backed Chilseong (Seven Stars) painting. To the right is a rather elaborate Dokseong (The Recluse) painting, and to the left is a rather common looking Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural.

HOW TO GET THERE: First, you’ll have to get to Yangsan; and more specifically, Tongdosa Temple. To get to Tongdosa Temple, you can take an intercity bus from Busan, Eonyang or Ulsan. Specifically from Busan, you can take a bus or subway to Nopo-dong intercity bus terminal. There, you can get a ticket for Tongdosa Temple. It leaves every 20 minutes.  Once you arrive in Yangsan, and facing the very small bus terminal, you should walk left and then turn right at the first corner. The temple entrance is past the numerous restaurants and shops.  Walk up a 1.5 km path, sprinkled with ancient graffiti, and you will eventually arrive at the outskirts of the temple grounds. Admission for adults is 3,000 won. Botaam Hermitage is actually the easiest hermitage to get to on the Tongdosa Temple grounds.  If you continue walking straight past Tongdosa Temple’s parking lot, along the main road, for about 309 metres, you’ll see a compact hermitage to your left: this is Botaam Hermitage.

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OVERALL RATING: 5/10. The highlight of Botaam Hermitage, at least in my mind, is the beautifully manicured courtyard and the flowers that were in full bloom next to a small tree. Added to this are the well cared for hermitage buildings and the paintings that adorn them both inside and out, and you have a beautiful hermitage to visit.  Also, the hermitage is rather easy to get to, that is, if you still have enough energy after visiting Tongdosa Temple. If you do, the hermitage is worth the short walk.

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The sign that greets you at Botaam Hermitage.  It reads 보타암: The name of the hermitage.
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The beautiful view of the main hall through the right entrance gate.
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A better view of the main hall at Botaam Hermitage.
The triad of statues inside the main hall at Botaam Hermitage. Seokgamoni-bul is in the centre, and he’s joined to the left by Jijang-bosal and to the right Gwanseeum-bosal.
The guardian mural inside the main hall at Botaam Hermitage.
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Just one of the beautiful paintings on the exterior walls of the main hall.
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Another of the white Buddha’s helping those in need of assistance on the outside of the main hall.
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 A combination of a ox-herding mural as well as a white Buddha and tiger mural.  It’s another of the beautiful paintings on the back of the main hall walls.
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The shrine hall to the right of the main hall.
A beautiful Dokseong painting.
The painting of Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak.
The view from the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
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A better look at a pink water lily.  The flowers were in full bloom in and around the courtyard at the hermitage.