Gulamsa Temple – 굴암사 (Eonyang, Ulsan)

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The view out onto Eonyang in Ulsan from Gulamsa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

On the southern side of Mt. Neungsan lies the unique Gulamsa Temple in northern Eonyang-eup, Ulsan. In fact, as you make your way towards the temple, and around Mt. Neungsan, you’ll notice that the mountain has been damaged by fire in its recent past. But it’s also from the same heights that you get beautiful views of Eonyang down below.

After summiting the mountain, and making a partial decent down the south side of the mountain, you’ll first notice the modern looking visitors centre at Gulamsa Temple. It’s just past this that you round the corner and get some more amazing views of the city down below from the observation deck at Gulamsa Temple.

But it’s to your back that you’ll find the entry to the highly unique main hall at Gulamsa Temple. Up a set of stairs and past some beautifully manicured shrubs, you’ll notice the entrance to the main hall, which also just so happens to be housed inside a cave. This mid-sized cave houses a solitary granite statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) on the main altar. Book-ending the main altar statue of Seokgamoni-bul are two stunning jade pagodas that stand about four feet in height. To the right of the main altar are two more stone statues. The first, on the left, is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). And she’s joined to the right by Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

Outside the cave shrine hall, and to the far left, is a stone relief of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), carved into the face of the mountain. And littered throughout the cracks and crevices of the mountain are various statuettes of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas left behind by temple devotees.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Gulamsa Temple, you’ll first need to get to the Eonyang Intercity Bus Terminal. From here, you’ll need to take a taxi to the temple. The taxi ride will cost around 5,000 won and take 15 minutes. From where the taxi drops you off, you’ll need to walk an additional 300 metres to Gulamsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. This is another hard temple to rate. While Gulamsa Temple has one of the more unique main halls, as well as some pretty amazing views, the temple only consists of a cave shrine hall.

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The view from the scenic mountain.

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Part of the fire scorched mountain where Gulamsa Temple is located.

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The trail that leads towards the temple.

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A look down upon Eonyang and Gulamsa Temple.

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The entry to the cave that houses most of what Gulamsa Temple has to offer.

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An inscription on the mountain’s rock face.

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Some of the icons left behind by devotees.

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To the left of the cave entry is this beautiful stone carving.

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The entry to the cave main hall at Gulamsa Temple.

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A look inside the cave shrine hall with a stone statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) front and centre.

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To the right of the main hall are these statues of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit)

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One last look down at Eonyang from Gulamsa Temple.

Yangdeoksa Temple – 양덕사 (Eonyang, Ulsan)

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A look inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall at Yangdeoksa Temple in Eonyang, Ulsan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Yangdeoksa Temple is located next to the turn off from Highway 1 that heads towards Ulsan along Highway 16. This newer temple that belongs to the smaller Cheontae Order lies just east of Eonyang-eup in Ulsan.

After making your way through a few highway underpasses and next to several rice fields, you’ll finally stumble across Yangdeoksa Temple next to a part of the Eonyang River. The first building to greet you is the two storied main hall. On the first floor rests the temple’s visitors’ centre and kitchen. It’s up a flight of stairs to the left that you’ll see the signs pointing you towards the second story Beopdang (or main hall). Wrapped around the exterior walls to this hall are various Buddhist motif murals. But it’s stepping inside this hall that you get to be greeted by a rare occurrence. Resting on the main altar is a fiery framed picture of Sangwol Wongak (the founder of the re-established Cheontae Order). Outside of having Buddhas or Bodhisattva on the main altar, excluding Tongdosa Temple with the window that looks out onto a stone lotus bud that actually houses the partial remains of the Historical Buddha, I’ve never seen this before. To the right of this main altar picture is a guardian mural, as well as a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And to the left of the main altar picture is the scepter symbol, in painted form, that embodies Cheontae Buddhism in Korea.

Stepping outside the main hall, and making your way to the left of the two storied main hall, you’ll notice ceramic pots. Inside these pots are soy bean products that the temple sells. But it’s to the left of the main hall, and the newly constructed Gwaneum-jeon Hall that’ll draw your attention. Housed inside this pagoda like shrine hall is a regally adorned statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). She’s joined to the left by a statue of Sangwol Wongak, once more. The entire interior to this hall is lined with murals of the 33 incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal, and they’re really quite striking.

HOW TO GET THERE:

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. Yangdeoksa Temple has a couple of really unique features that largely centre around Sangwol Wongak, the founder of the re-established Cheontae Order. I’ve never seen a picture of a non-Buddha or Bodhisattva on the main altar of a main hall. And yet, Yangdeoksa Temple has just that. Added to this uniqueness is the beautiful new Gwaneum-jeon Hall at Yangdeoksa Temple.

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A look up at the main hall at Yangdeoksa Temple.

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A few rice pots in preparation for Buddha’s birthday.

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The stairs that lead up to the Beopdang main hall.

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Some of the beautiful lanterns at this Cheontae Order Buddhist temple.

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A look towards the newly constructed Gwaneum-jeon Hall from the temple’s main hall.

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Some of the soy pots at Yangdeoksa Temple.

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Inside the very unique Beopdang main hall.

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The main altar inside the Beopdang with a picture of the revered Sangwol Wongak front and centre.

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The large guardian mural to the right of the main altar.

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It’s joined by an equally large mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

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The painting to the left of the main altar that lets you know that the temple is part of the Cheontae Order.

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Lining the interior of the main hall were some murals, like this one, of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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The view from the rear of the main hall towards the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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One of the Gwaneum-jeon Hall’s murals that adorns the exterior walls with Munsu-bosal making a presence in the top right.

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The view as you make your way towards the Gwaneum-jeon from the main hall.

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Under a canopy of paper lanterns in preparation for Buddha’s birthday.

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A look up towards the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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A grassy dongja with some dangling paper lanterns above him.

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A look inside the Gwaneum-jeon with Gwanseeum-bosal sitting in the centre of the main altar. He’s joined by Sangwol Wongak to the left.

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The tall guardian mural inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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As well as another mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal.