Daeunam Hermitage – 대운암 (Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

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The spectacular view of the city of Cheongdo from Daeunam Hermitage.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Whenever I’m short of inspiration, or the list of temple’s is getting a bit dry, I always check out a few Korean blogs to get some inspiration. With all that in mind, I found Daeunam Hermitage in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do on one of these blogs; and the hermitage didn’t disappoint, either.

You first approach Daeunam Hermitage up a long and winding mountainside road that runs about four kilometres in length. This drive allows for some pretty remarkable views of rural Cheongdo down below.

At the entrance of the temple, you’ll climb a steep road that’s lined with tall red pines. When you finally crest the mountain, you’ll be welcomed by the monks’ dorms that lay straight ahead. Slightly to the right, and placed precariously on the mountain’s face, is the Dokseong-gak. Inside this hall is a colour, solitary painting dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

Slightly to the left of these two buildings, and still in the same area, is another hall. This hall is the visitors’ centre, which has an amazing view of the valley down below. If you’re lucky enough, a monk will invite you in for a cup of tea.

Directly behind the visitors’ centre, and up a steep and uneven set of stairs, is the temple’s main hall. The exterior walls to this hall are adorned with green-tinged Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. As for the interior, a solitary statue of Gwanseeum-bosal that dates back about three hundred years sits on the main altar. Under a beautiful canopy with a manja (swastika) symbol front and centre, Gwanseeum-bosal is backed by a beautiful black mural of herself. To the right of the main altar is a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And to the right is a collection of artwork. The first is a mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Next to this is a golden guardian relief. The final mural is dedicated to the founding monk at Daeunam Hermitage.

To the left of the main hall, and still on the same upper courtyard, is a miniature main hall. Yep, you heard me right, a Barbie house for Buddhism. Inside are three diminutive Buddhist statues, as well. Not sure of its meaning, but it definitely surprised me. As you walk in this direction, you’ll notice another hall with an intense yellow tiger painted on it. Figuring this to be the Sanshin-gak, I was surprised when I wasn’t able to open it. It seems to be in the process of being converted into another type of temple hall. However, you can get some more great views of Cheongdo in the valley below.

So if the old Sanshin-gak is being converted, where is the new one, you might be asking. Squeezed between the main hall and a row of monks’ dorms is a stone staircase that leads up towards the peak of the mountain. Crowning the hermitage grounds is a plainly appearing Sanshin-gak that looks to have just been completed. Perhaps the most spectacular views can be seen from this shrine hall. In fact, the painting of Sanshin has a birds-eye-view of the beautiful landscape because the front of the hall simply has a window instead of a wall. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is an amazing male and female painting of Sanshin. This pair is quite rare in a Sanshin Taenghwa mural. So enjoy both the painting and the view when visiting the Sanshin-gak.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take a taxi to the mountainside hermitage. It’s 16 km, and 30 minutes, so it’ll cost you 15,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting Daeunam Hermitage, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The amazing views are second to only a handful of hermitages in Korea. Add into the mix the very rare Sanshin mural, as well as the historic statue of Gwanseeum-bosal, and you have more than enough reason to visit rural Cheongdo.

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The final part of the road that leads up to Daeunam Hermitage.

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A headstone just outside the hermitage entrance.

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The hermitage as it first greets you.

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The cliff-side Dokseong-gak.

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The colourful painting of Dokseong inside the shaman shrine hall.

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 A look up at the main hall at the hermitage.

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The first in the set of Shimu-do murals.

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 A look inside the main hall at the historic Gwanseeum-bosal statue on the main altar.

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The Chilseong mural to the left of the main altar.

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The golden guardian relief inside the main hall.

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The amazing view just behind the main hall out onto the rural countryside.

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The spectacular view that both Sanshin and visitors get to enjoy from the Sanshin-gak.

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The Sanshin pairing that takes up residence inside the Sanshin-gak.

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The cave just to the rear of the Sanshin-gak. Enter at your own risk!

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As you make your way back to the entrance, and to the left of the main hall, is this smaller sized hall.

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The former Sanshin-gak.

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 Once again, another amazing view from Daeunam Hermitage. This time, from the former Sanshin-gak.