Daesansa Temple – 대산사 (Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

The beautiful artwork dedicated to Yongwang at Daesansa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located in south-western Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do, on the northern ridgeline of Mt. Cheonwangsan, sits Daesansa Temple. The temple is scenically located past the Daesan-ji lake and up a zigzagging mountain road that looks down on the valley below.

As you first enter the grassy temple courtyard, you’ll notice the monks’ dorms and the visitors’ centre bookending the main hall at Daesansa Temple: the Wontong-jeon Hall. Out in front of the Wontong-jeon Hall is a one tier pagoda that’s seen better days. Lining the tiers and base of the pagoda are figurines that have been left behind by devotees. Painted around the exterior walls to this newly constructed main hall are beautiful, large Palsang-do murals depicting the eight stages from the Buddha’s life. Up near the eaves of the roof are smaller Shimu-do, Ox-herding murals, that are just as intricate and masterful as the Palsang-do set.

Stepping inside the Wontong-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a unique set of main altar statues. The largest one in the middle is dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). And the golden capped statue to the left is Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), while the one to the right is a statue dedicated to Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Rounding out the artwork inside the Wontong-jeon Hall is an older mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal to the left of the main altar.

To the right rear of the main hall are a set of three shaman shrine halls. The first to the far left is the Sanshin-gak. The all-natural wooden exterior houses a mural dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Sanshin is joined in the painting by a dour looking tiger. To the right of the Sanshin-gak is the Chilseong/Dokseong-gak. Inside this shaman shrine hall, which has an all-natural wooden exterior, as well, are a pair of shaman murals. The first to the left is an older mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and to the right hangs a beautifully vibrant mural dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

The final shaman shrine housed at Daesansa Temple is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). The Yongwang-dang lies down a set of stone stairs. The white screened shrine houses one of the most amazing paintings dedicated to Yongwang that I’ve ever seen in Korea. This masterful painting is a new addition to the temple, and the former red wooden tablet that used to be housed inside the Yongwang-dang now rests out in front of it.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus #1 and get off at the bus stop named “Nokmyeong 2 ri” after seven stops (or 17 minutes). And from this stop, then take the town bus named “Punggak Sunhwan” (풍락 순환 버스). And after six stops, or 19 minutes, get off at the “Oksan 2 ri” bus stop. From this stop, you’ll need to walk for about 30 minutes, or 2.1 km, to get to the temple. Follow the signs as you make the climb towards Daesansa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. The main highlights to this temple are the amazing shaman artwork at Daesansa Temple. While there, have an especially close look at all four major pieces of artwork. Also of note are the statues resting on the main altar inside the Wontong-jeon Hall and the one tier pagoda out in front of the main hall.

The view from Daesansa Temple.

The Wontong-jeon main hall at Daesansa Temple.

The one tier pagoda out in front of the Wontong-jeon Hall.

One of the beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals that adorns the exterior walls of the Wontong-jeon Hall.

As well as this intricate Palsang-do mural.

Inside the Wontong-jeon Hall during morning prayer.

The view towards the shaman shrine halls behind the main hall at Daesansa Temple.

The Sanshin-gak at Daesansa Temple.

The dour looking tiger and Sanshin together.

The Chilseong/Dokseong-gak at the temple.

The older mural dedicated to Chilseong.

And the vibrant Dokseong mural housed inside the Chilseong/Dokseong-gak.

The Yongwang shrine.

The amazing Yongwang mural housed inside the Yongwang-dang.

And one final look up at the Wontong-jeon main hall at Daesansa Temple.

Daejeoksa Temple – 대적사 (Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

Looking through the main gate at the Geukrak-jeon main hall at Daejeoksa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Daejeoksa Temple is located in northern Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do, nearly halfway towards the neighbouring city of Gyeongsan. Daejeoksa Temple was first constructed in 876 A.D. by the monk Bojo (804-880), and I’m guessing this isn’t to be confused with the more famous Bojo-guksa (1158-1210). But this temple was later abandoned only to be reconstructed by the monk Boyang during the early part of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). But even after reconstruction, the temple was reconstructed once more in 1689 by the monk Seonghae. And throughout the years, Daejeoksa Temple has gone through several renovations and repairs like in 1690, 1754, 1939, and more recently in the 1970s to the present.

You first approach Daejeoksa Temple to the left of the famed Cheongo Wine Tunnel. On the very road that leads up to the temple, there is an outlying stupa for the monk Pungam, which was erected in 1752.

To the left of this stupa, and up a sidewinding side street, is Daejeoksa Temple. Up a set of wide stone stairs, you’ll come to the temple entry gate with a pair of intimidating guardians on both of the entry doors. Stepping through the gate, you’ll enter into the temple courtyard with the monks’ dorms to your right and the historic Geukrak-jeon Hall straight ahead. This shrine hall, which also acts as the temple’s main hall, is Korean Treasure #836. The Geukrak-jeon Hall dates back to the repairs made at the temple in 1754.

Approaching the Geukrak-jeon Hall, you’ll first notice the foundation stones that the hall rests on. Some of these stones are carved with lotus blossoms, turtles, and crabs. As for the stairs that lead up to the shrine hall, they are similar to the ones at the Daeung-jeon Hall at Beomeosa Temple in Busan. These stairs are even older than the shrine hall itself; the stone stairs date back to 1676.

Stepping inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues on the main altar. Sitting in the centre inside the smaller sized shrine hall rests Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). A painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) hangs to the right of the main altar. And all around the interior of the Geukrak-jeon Hall are paintings of Taoist Immortals (Shinseon), Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha), and Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). A look up towards the ancient ceiling is worth a gander with its dragons and floral murals.

To the left of the Geukrak-jeon Hall is the temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall. The exterior to the hall’s walls are largely unpainted all except for the traditional dancheong colours. Stepping inside this hall, you’ll notice a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal. And this statue is backed by a Jijang-bosal motif relief of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife. Out in front of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall are three memorial tablets for deceased monks that once called Daejeoksa Temple their home.

The final shrine hall visitors can explore at Daejeoksa Temple is the Sanshin-gak shaman shrine hall to the rear of both the Geukrak-jeon Hall and the Myeongbu-jeon Hall. The Sanshin-gak Hall was built in the mid-1990s. The exterior to this hall is unadorned, and when you step inside, the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) mural is rather non-descript. However, of interest inside this hall is the six-pack of soju to the bottom right of the mural, as well as the Pororo mat that you stand on while praying to the Mountain Spirit.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #7 and get off at the fifth stop, which is the “Songgeumri” bus stop. This bus ride should last about 25 minutes. From this bus stop, you’ll need to walk about ten minutes, or 700 metres to get to the temple. The temple lies to the left of the Cheongdo Wine Tunnel.

You can take a bus or simply take a taxi from the Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal. The taxi ride should take 16 minutes and cost about 14,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. By far, the main highlight to Daejeoksa Temple is the Geukrak-jeon Hall. It’s a rather obvious choice when a temple has a Treasure associated with it; and for Daejeoksa Temple, it’s the main hall. With its beautiful masonry that makes up the foundational stones, as well as the beautiful paintings housed inside the main hall, you can take the better part of a day just exploring the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

The road that leads up to Daejeoksa Temple.

The stupa dedicated to Pungam from 1752.

The entrance and main gate at Daejeoksa Temple.

One of the guardians that adorns the main gate’s doors.

The historic Geukrak-jeon Hall at Daejeoksa Temple.

The beautiful stairs that lead up to the Geukrak-jeon Hall and date back to 1676.

One of the stone carvings at the base of the Geukrak-jeon Hall. This one is a turtle design.

As well as one of the highly unique dragon heads that’s placed near the entrance of the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

The triad of statues that rest on the main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall with a mural of Chilseong to the right.

A look up at the ceiling inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

One of the Biseon (Flying Angels) that’s painted on one of the interior walls to the historic main hall.

As well as this Bodhidharma-like motif of the Shinseon.

The Myeongbu-jeon Hall to the left of the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

Out in front of the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

Inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

A beautiful blue sky to the rear of the Geukrak-jeon Hall.

The Sanshin-gak to the rear of the Geukrak-jeon Hall and Myeongbu-jeon Hall.

The Pororo mat that you step onto inside the Sanshin-gak.

And the Sanshin mural inside the Sanshin-gak. Notice the six-pack of soju to the bottom right.

Bokcheonjeongsa Temple – 복천정사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

As you first approach the abandoned Bokcheonjeongsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

So this is a first for me: an abandoned temple. Located in southwestern Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, just below the towering peak of Mt. Togoksan (855m), is Bokcheonjeongsa Temple. The abandoned temple formerly belonged to the Cheontae-jong Buddhist Order.

You first approach the temple up an equally abandoned road that brings you to within 800 metres of Bokcheonjeongsa Temple. The rest of the way is up an overgrown trail. In parts, the trail is completely covered for several metres in leaves that make the climb a bit slippery and treacherous. In total, from where the road ends and the mountain trail begins, the climb will take about thirty minutes (and it’s quite the climb).

Finally having arrived at the base of Bokcheonjeongsa Temple, it almost seems like a ghost town with several buildings with their windows smashed out. It’s actually quite haunting. When first approaching the temple grounds, you’ll notice the kitchen and temple facilities to the right of you in a white building. And to the left is large yellow building that looks to have been the former monks’ dorms.

It’s straight ahead, that you’ll find the two story main hall at the abandoned temple. You can gain access to both shrine halls. On the first floor, it almost looks to have been a shrine hall for Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise); but without any shrine hall statues or paintings around, this is just a guess. This shrine hall has been stripped clean of its former self.

Climbing up the stairs to the right, you’ll be able, like the first, to gain admittance to what was formerly the Myeongbu-jeon Hall. Upon first entering, you’ll notice a flowery altar to your left. A little further along, and on the main altar, hangs a painting dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). This is the only painting that still remains at the temple.

To the left of the main hall, and on the elevated upper courtyard, is an overgrown pathway that leads towards what looks like the former head monk’s dorm. It’s between the upper and lower courtyard at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple that you see a set of stone cairns.

To the rear of the main hall is a shrine hall that looks as though it was formerly dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). The reason I say this is that there is a slow flowing waterfall that collects at the base in a beautiful clear pool of water.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Mulgeum train station in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do, you should catch a taxi from there. The taxi ride up to the temple, or at least as far as the road will allow, will take about 36 minutes (17,000 won). And depending on where the taxi lets you off, it will take an additional 30 minutes to hike the remaining 800 metres up the hiking trail. Not easy, but doable.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. The views from Bokcheonjeongsa Temple down from the heights of Mt Togoksan are breath-taking. This temple was much larger than I thought, and it must have once been a very beautiful temple. But without people and the spirituality associated with a Korean Buddhist temple, the abandoned buildings and the winter landscape make Bokcheonjeongsa Temple appear hauntingly eerie. If abandoned places are your thing, then this temple is a must see.

The climb up Mt. Togoksan where Bokcheonjeongsa Temple is located.

The abandoned temple first coming into view.

The windowless residence for former monks at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.

The kitchen and temple facilities that have held up a bit better than the monks’ dorms.

A bridge that leads to a garden like island at the temple.

The two story main hall at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.

The abandoned main altar inside the first floor shrine hall.

And the view to the right.

And the view to the far right wall and the altar without altar pieces.

The view from the second story hall.

The flowery altar as you first step inside the second story shrine hall.

The second story shrine hall painting of Jijang-bosal.

The amazing view from the second story shrine hall.

And a different angle to the right of the second story shrine hall.

A pathway that leads up towards another abandoned building at Bokcheonjeongsa Temple.

And the abandoned building that the pathway leads up towards.

Another overgrown, and haunting image, of the abandoned temple.

Some of the cairns between the storage shed and the monks’ dorms.

A look up towards the main hall.

The former shrine behind the main hall.

A ray of sunlight through the face of the mountain.

Some ice building up at the edge of a pool of water.

From a rather dry waterfall that falls freely to the back of the temple grounds.

And the pool where the water collects.

Watch your step as you make your way down the mountain.

Bongseosa Temple – 봉서사 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The view from next to the main hall at Bongseosa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Like so many temples in the Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do area, Bongseosa Temple is located in and around the Mt. Muhaksan area. Specifically, Bongseosa Temple is located to the east of Seohaksa Temple and on the eastern slopes of the mountain near a cluster of older apartments.

On the last road before the mountain begins, you’ll find a long set of stairs that leads up to the Bongseosa Temple grounds. Passing through the beautiful Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate combination, you’ll notice four paintings of the Four Heavenly Kings next to each of the gate’s pillars. To the left where the trail takes you, you’ll find a stone statue of a child-like Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom).

Just beyond the Munsu-bosal statue is the main temple courtyard. To the right are the monks’ facilities like the kitchen and to the left are the monks’ dorms. Between both of these sets of buildings is Bongseosa Temple’s main hall. The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, mural set and the Palsang-do mural set, as well.

Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a glassed off interior that houses the triad of statues on the main altar. In the centre sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). All three are beautiful in their complex designs. To the right of the main altar is a newly painted guardian mural and to the left are judgment murals for the afterlife.

To the right of the main hall, and almost fully encompassed by the temple’s facilities, is the temple’s large bronze bell. And out in front of the main hall is a stately five tier stone pagoda with ornate stone lanterns on either side.

To the rear of the main hall, rather strangely housed in a sheet metal looking shed, is the slender Yongwang-dang. Housed inside this peculiar shaman shrine hall is an older looking mural dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). And to the left of this painting is an Indian wooden relief of the various stages from the Buddha’s life.

The final shrine hall that visitors can explore at Bongseosa Temple is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Housed inside this hall are three wooden reliefs dedicated to the three most popular shaman deities in Korea: Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Masan Intercity Bus Terminal, there are several buses that go to where Bongseosa Temple is located. One of these buses is Bus #707. After eight stops, or sixteen minutes, you’ll need to get off at the “Seowongok Ipgu” stop. From the stop, walk north for about a kilometre and then head towards the mountain to your left. There will be signs along the way to guide you.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. The main highlights to Bongseosa Temple are the main hall altar pieces, as well as the older Yongwang painting to the rear of the main hall. Other highlights are the temple’s bronze bell as well as the temple’s stone pagoda.

The Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate at Bongseosa Temple.

One of the Four Heavenly Kings housed inside the Iljumun/Cheonwangmun Gate.

The child-like statue of Munsu-bosal.

The main hall at Bongseosa Temple.

One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the main hall.

As well as the last painting of the Palsang-do murals.

A look inside the main hall at Bongseosa Temple.

This Judgment mural is painted on the wall to the left of the main altar.

The view from the main hall out towards the temple’s stone pagoda and row upon row of apartments in Masan.

The large bronze bell at Bongseosa Temple.

The older Yongwang mural to the rear of the main hall.

It’s joined by this panel from the wooden relief of the Buddha’s life.

As well as this one.

The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

The wooden relief of Dokseong housed inside the Samseong-gak.

As well as this Sanshin relief.

And the view from the Samseong-gak.

Seohaksa Temple – 서학사 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The view from Seohaksa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Seohaksa Temple is located on the eastern side of Mt. Muhaksan (761.4 m) in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do. And the view out towards the Masan harbor, especially in the early morning, is stunning.

Up a steep incline, and a paved road, you’ll find Seohaksa Temple on a 250 metre plateau on the mountain range. The first thing to greet you to the right of the temple grounds are the monks’ dorms and temple facilities. It’s past this cluster of buildings that you’ll finally enter the main temple courtyard at Seohaksa Temple.

Standing in the middle of the temple courtyard are a pair of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) statues. The one to the left is a taller more refined image of the Bodhisattva, while the one to the right is a little less polished. And both statues are backed by a wall of mountain rocks.

To the right of the main hall is an all brick shrine hall. I haven’t seen too many of these around Korea. Housed inside this hall is a contemplative statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

To the left of the courtyard statues is the temple’s main hall. Surrounding the exterior walls to the main hall that looks out towards Masan harbor are a pair of mural sets. On the bottom are the ten Ox-Herding murals. And on top of these murals are eight standard paintings of the Palsang-do set. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll see a triad of statues resting on the main hall. In the centre sits Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And he’s joined to the right by Gwanseeum-bosal and to the left by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). All three statues have a fiery golden nimbus surrounding their heads. To the right of the main altar is the guardian mural and a rather plain Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. And to the left are two older murals. The first is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King); but it’s the older, more curmudgeonly image of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) that you’ll need to keep an eye out for.

To the rear of the main hall, and up a very steep set of stairs, you’ll find the extremely compact Sanshin-gak. Housed inside this hall is a rather plain looking image of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). But it’s from this shaman shrine hall that you get the best views of the valley and harbor down below.

Rather strangely, and to the left of the actual temple grounds, is another Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. You’ll need to exit the temple grounds and climb your way up a set of uneven stairs that run alongside the main temple grounds, to get to this shaman shrine hall. It’s strange because this Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall is on the other side of the walls for Seohaksa Temple. I’m not sure if this is a Samseong-gak for Mt. Muhaksan or whether a monk is making a statement at Seohaksa Temple; but either way, it’s a first for me. Housed inside the Samseong-gak is a plain image of Dokseong. There’s  also an older image of Chilseong, but it’s the Sanshin mural reminiscent of Water Moon Gwaneum Painting that should captor your eye with its deep implicit meaning.

And it’s just above this Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall, and up another set of uneven stairs, that you’ll find one last shrine hall at Seohaksa Temple. This time, it’s a compact Yongwang-dang dedicated to the Dragon King. This time, there’s a stone image and a painting dedicated to Yongwang.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Masan Intercity Bus Terminal, there are several buses that go to where Seohaksa Temple is located. One of these buses is Bus #707. After eight stops, or sixteen minutes, you’ll need to get off at the “Seowongok Ipgu” stop. From the stop, walk about twenty to twenty-five minutes to Seohaksa Temple. There are several signs that lead you in the direction of the temple so just follow them along the way. But be prepared for a bit of a hike at the end.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. It’s the views at Seohaksa Temple that gives it such a high rating. The views are pretty special. Adding to the temple’s natural beauty is all the shaman iconography spread throughout the temple grounds, as well as the main hall’s statues that rest on the altar. While a bit of a climb to get to, this temple is worth the effort.

The sign out in front of the temple bathroom leading you towards the temple grounds at Seohaksa Temple.

The monks’ dorms and temple facilities.

The shrine hall that houses Mireuk-bul.

A look inside at the Future Buddha.

The pair of statues of Gwanseeum-bosal in the temple courtyard with the Sanshin-gak perched above them.

A look at the main hall at Seohaksa Temple.

One of the Palsang-do murals.

As well as one of the Ox-Herding murals.

The guardian mural housed inside the main hall.

Joined by this Chilseong mural to the right of the main altar.

The beautiful view even from inside the main hall at Seohaksa Temple.

The main altar statues with their decorative fiery nimbus’ surrounding each of their heads.

The Yongwang mural to the left of the main altar.

Joined by this angry looking Dokseong mural.

The Sanshin-gak to the rear of the main hall.

The plastic covered painting dedicated to Sanshin.

The amazing view from the Sanshin-gak at Seohaksa Temple.

The sun peaking in under the roof of the main hall.

The temple’s slender pagoda and the wall that separates the temple grounds from the outlying Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

The aforementioned Samseong-gak.

Which houses this older image of Chilseong.

The Sanshin mural that’s reminiscent of the Water Moon Gwaneum Painting.

To the rear of the Samseong-gak is a Yongwang-dang that houses both images of the Dragon King.

Hakryongsa Temple – 학룡사 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The bell pavilion at Hakryongsa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

To the south of Mt. Muhaksan in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do sits the compact grounds to Hakryongsa Temple. You first approach the temple grounds off a highway that runs through the city and across from Cheonggu Genesis apartments.

The first thing to greet you at the temple is Hakryongsa Temple’s entry gate. Each gate door is decorated with two intimidating guardian paintings. As you enter through this gate, you’ll notice four life-size stone statues of the Four Heavenly Kings. To the right of these nicely executed statues is the temple’s bell pavilion. The temple’s bell hangs on the second floor of this structure, as you make your way past the temple’s facilities and towards the main hall at Hakryongsa Temple.

Out in front of the main hall are a collection of stone statues. The first four statues fronting the collection of stone monuments, and starting from the left, is a tall statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To her right are two seated statues. The first is of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha), while the other is of Gwanseeum-bosal. The other statue in this collection is Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). And all four statues are backed by a collection of stone Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha) statues.

The exterior walls to the main hall are decorated with various Buddhist motif murals like the Bodhidharma. Also, the front latticework has detailed images of Nathwi at the base of the front doors. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues on the main altar. In the centre sits a seated statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To the left of this triad, and hanging on the wall, are a pair of wooden relief carvings. The first is a guardian relief, while the other is a relief dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint). And to the right of the main altar is a wooden relief dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).

To the left of the main hall rests the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. As you first step into this hall, you’ll be greeted by a rather plain Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) painting, as well as a Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural to its left. But it’s the mural to the far left, the Yongwang mural, that’s the highlight of the three with a descriptive depiction of The Dragon King.

The final hall that visitors can explore at Hakryongsa Temple is the Nahan-jeon Hall to the left of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Inside this newly built hall are row upon row of smaller sized statues dedicated to the Nahan. Seated in the middle of these beautiful statues is a triad centred by Seokgamoni-bul and joined on either side by Mireuk-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Future) and Jaehwagalra-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Past).

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Masan Nambu Intercity Bus Terminal, there is a bus stop at the McDonald’s. From there, take bus #262. After nine stops, or twelve minutes, get off at the Jeonwon APT stop. From there, walk about five minutes, or 340 metres, to get to Hakryongsa Temple.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5/10. This temple’s main highlights are the statues strewn throughout the compact temple grounds at Hakryongsa Temple. The first of these beautiful statues are the Heavenly Kings that welcome you at the entry gate and continue onto the collection just out in front of the main hall. And they end with the colourful rows of Nahan inside the Nahan-jeon Hall.

The greeting stone that welcomes you to the temple.

The entry gate at Hakryongsa Temple.

Three of the Four Heavenly Kings just inside the temple entry gate.

With an up close of the fourth.

The collection of stone statues just out in front of the main hall.

And a closer look at the rows of Nahan statues.

A look across the front of the main hall up towards Mt. Muhaksan in the background.

The painting of the Bodhidharma that adorns one of the exterior walls to the main hall at Hakryongsa Temple.

One of the Nathwi reliefs adorning the main hall.

The main altar inside the main hall.

The wooden carving guardian relief inside the main hall.

Joined by this relief of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

And to the right of the main altar is this relief dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).

The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left of the main hall.

Inside is this painting dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King).

And to the left of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall is the Nahan-jeon Hall.

The main altar inside the Nahan-jeon Hall.

Which is then surrounded on both sides by these colourful statues of the Nahan.

The temple pagoda out in front of the Nahan-jeon Hall with the bell pavilion in the background.

Euirimsa Temple – 의림사 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The main hall at Euirimsa Temple in south-western Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Euirimsa Temple is located in south-western Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do in a valley below Mt. Inseongsan. Euirimsa Temple was first constructed in 688 A.D. by the famed monk Uisang-daesa (625 A.D. – 702 A.D.). Initially, Mt. Inseongsan was called Mt. Yeohangsan. The name Mt. Yeohangsan was in reference to the Buddha’s teachings enlightening all living beings towards Paramita (perfection or completeness). Like Mt. Yeohangsan, Euirimsa Temple was initially called Bongguksa Temple. It was only after the Imjin War (1592-98), after the warrior monk Samyeong-daesa (1544-1610) defended the nation from this temple, that the temple changed its name to Euirimsa Temple. During the Korean War (1950-53), Euirimsa Temple was completely destroyed. It was only a full forty years after its destruction, in 1995, that Euirimsa Temple was rebuilt to its former glory. And even now, in 2016, Euirimsa Temple continues to undergo renovation and reconstruction.

You first approach Euirimsa Temple down a long country road. You’ll know that you’ve arrived at the temple when the road ends and the temple parking lot begins. Just before the temple parking lot is a colourful and stately built Iljumun Gate. Have a look up as you pass under it at its intricate patterns and vibrant colours.

After passing under the Iljumun Gate, you’ll approach the outskirts of the main temple grounds. The front façade that first welcomes you to the temple courtyard is Euirimsa Temple’s bell pavilion and conference hall. Taking the stone stairs to the right of both of these structures, you’ll be able to see all that the temple has to offer.

To your far left is the temple’s main hall. The exterior walls are adorned with an expanded set of thirty-two Palsang-do murals. Have a look, because I’ve never seen anything like them before. And to the left of the main hall is an eloquent Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) statue. As for inside this large main hall, and resting on the main altar, are three large seated statues. The first one in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And he’s joined on either side by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal.

To the right of the main hall, which is one of three, is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. Of the three paintings, it’s the older Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) that’s the most unique. But the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) painting, with its white tiger, is also pretty nice, as well. Rounding out the set is the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) in the centre.

The next hall in the line of three shrine halls is the Nahan-jeon Hall. While this unpainted shrine hall looks older in style, the interior is newly redone. The interior of this hall is filled with brand new paintings adorning its walls, as well as several dozen all white statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha).

The final hall of the three, and also unpainted like the Nahan-jeon, is the Gwaneum-jeon Hall. Out in front of this hall is an ancient three tier pagoda. As for inside, and seated all alone, is a beautiful statue of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. To the left of the main altar is a magnificent guardian mural. And rounding out this hall are various painted incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal, so have a look around.

It should be noted that Euirimsa Temple, as of late 2016, is under major restorations.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Euirimsa Temple is from the Masan Nambu Intercity Bus Terminal. From the terminal, take a taxi for 24 minutes, or 18 kilometres. The ride will set you back 15,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6.5/10. There are quite a few things to explore at Euirimsa Temple like the older painting dedicated to Dokseong inside the Samseong-gak. Also, the artwork in and around the Gwaneum-jeon Hall is really second to none, as are the extended Palsang-do murals that adorn the exterior walls to the Daeung-jeon main hall.

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The newly built, and colourful, Iljumun Gate at Euirimsa Temple.

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The front facade to Euirimsa Temple.

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The Daeung-jeon main hall at Euirimsa Temple.

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The old three tier pagoda in the temple courtyard.

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The Gwanseeum-bosal statue to the left of the main hall.

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The fifteenth painting from the extended set of Palsang-do murals that adorns the main hall.

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A better look at some more of the extended Palsang-do set at Euirimsa Temple.

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A look inside the main hall during morning prayer.

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The bell pavilion at Euirimsa Temple.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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The mural of Sanshin and his white tiger.

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As well as this older Dokseong mural that resides inside the Samseong-gak.

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The Nahan-jeon Hall to the right of the Samseong-gak.

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A look inside the Nahan-jeon at the main altar.

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The rows of white Nahan statues inside the hall.

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And the Gwaneum-jeon Hall to the right of the Nahan-jeon Hall.

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The main altar statue of Gwanseeum-bosal inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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A look at the guardian mural inside the Gwaneum-jeon Hall.

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As well as one of the murals of Gwanseeum-bosal adorning the interior walls.

Daeinsa Temple – 대인사 (Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The amazing painting of Ha outside the main hall doors at Daeinsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

 Hello Again Everyone!!

Daeinsa Temple is located in the northern part of Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do not too far away from the famed Tongdosa Temple. You first approach Daeinsa Temple down a country road and by a couple of farmers’ fields. When you finally arrive at the end of the road, you’ll have arrived at the modern looking Daeinsa Temple.

The first thing to greet you is a large stone with the name of the temple inscribed on it. Approaching the temple from the gravel parking lot, there is a two-storied building that acts as both the main hall and the kitchen/conference halls to the temple. Surrounding the upper level, which acts as the main hall, are gorgeous paintings of the Ox-Herding, Shimu-do, murals, as well as the Palsang-do paintings that depict the life of the Historical Buddha. Added to these gorgeous paintings are various paintings of Boddhisattvas and a unique painting of the Bodhidharma. Finally, the entrance way to the main hall is adorned with descriptive depictions of the guardians Heng and Ha. I was unable to go inside this main hall, as there was a funeral ceremony going on when I visited; however, the people that worked in the kitchen were kind enough to allow me to photograph the stunning pictures that adorn the exterior of the main hall.

The views from the main hall of Mt. Cheonseongsan and Mt. Chiseosan off in the distance are amazing. This vantage point also allows you to see the rest of the tiny temple. Besides the main hall, there is a beautiful and well-manicured lawn to the rear of the main hall. And to the far rear of the temple, and up on a terraced landing, is a newer looking stone pagoda. This pagoda is fronted by a water fountain with a stone image of Yongwang (The Dragon King) on it. And finally, to the left side of the pagoda is a meditative hall for monks that call Daeinsa Temple their home. As for the pagoda itself, it is a simple design with a Silla influence. There are beautiful sculptures of various guardians around the base of the pagoda, and images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on the upper-tier

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Yangsan subway station (stop #243) there is a bus stop, take Bus #13. After 26 stops, or 40 minutes, get off at Jinheung Mokhwa Apartment stop. From this stop, walk for twelve minutes or 800 metres towards Daeinsa Temple.

Or you can simply take a taxi from the Yangsan Intercity Bus Terminal. The ride should last 23 minutes and cost 15,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 2.5/10. While not the most impressive of temples you’ll visit in Korea, there are a couple things that are well worth seeing. The most attractive things about this temple are the murals that surround the main hall. These newly painted murals of the Ox-Herding murals and the Palsang-do paintings are highlighted by the Heng and Ha renderings near the entrance of the main hall. The Silla influenced pagoda and the Yongwang water fountain to the rear of Daeinsa Temple are other highlights to this temple.

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The metal signboard that welcomes you to Daeinsa Temple.

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A look at the two-storied main hall at Daeinsa Temple.

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A look towards Mt. Chiseosan off in the distance.

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The colourful entrance to the main hall. Murals of Heng and Ha greet you on either side of the glass doors.

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One of the murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall. This one is an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal.

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Next the mural of Gwanseeum-bosal is this mural of the Bodhidharma.

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Just one of the murals from the Palsang-do mural set.

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This is the tenth painting from the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, mural set.

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The view to the rear of the main hall with Mt. Cheonseongsan framing the temple.

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A longer look at the two-storied main hall at Daeinsa Temple.

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The five tier pagoda to the rear of the temple grounds.

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One of the guardians that adorns the base of the pagoda.

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The view from the pagoda towards the shrine dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King).

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A closer look at the Dragon King.

Jingwansa Temple – 진관사 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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A look up at the main hall past a mature red pine at Jingwansa Temple in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located in the south-western part of Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do, and under the two towering peaks of Suri-bong and Oknyeo-bong, is Jingwansa Temple.

Just beyond a cluttered cluster of older homes and up a valley with a stream at its side are the outskirts to Jingwansa Temple. When you first approach this Jogye Order Buddhist temple, your eyes will first be drawn to the large silver triad to the right of the main hall. Seated in the centre of this triad appears to be Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined to the right by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) and to the left by Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). This large courtyard that houses these three equally large silver statues are backed by a row of Palsang-do murals and fronted by two simplistic stone lanterns.

To the left of this courtyard is the temple’s main hall. The main hall is adorned with large Palsang-do murals, as well as other Buddhist motif murals like an all-white image of Gwanseeum-bosal. The front latticework is beautiful in its intricate nature. And just out in front of the main hall is the temple’s diminutive bell pavilion. Stepping inside the main hall, you’ll be greeted by a main altar of statues that’s comprised of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy) in the centre. On either side sits Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). Looking up at the ceiling and around at the walls inside the main hall, you’ll notice some beautiful paintings dedicated to Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power), Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Podae-hwasang (The Hempen Sack). Rounding out the images inside the main hall is a smaller guardian mural.

To the left of the main hall and past the monks’ dorms is the Samseong-gak. You’ll have to cross a stream that intersects the temple over an out of place blue bridge. Once you’ve crossed it with the temple garden to your left, you’ll enter the shaman shrine hall. Housed inside this hall are three larger images of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

The final thing to be seen at Jingwansa Temple after re-crossing the blue temple bridge is a shrine dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King) at the head of the stream. The large granite statue of Yongwang stands on top of a stone turtle. Both statues are then fronted by two ornate stone lanterns and backed by a beautiful mature forest.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Jingwansa Temple is to take a taxi from the Masan Nambu Intercity Bus terminal. The taxi ride will take 25 minutes, or 14.2 kilometres, and cost 13,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. Upon first entering Jingwansa Temple, it has a bit of a strange feel to it with its fading paintings and chipped large silver statues. But after walking around a bit, the Jogye Order temple starts to grow on you with its more rustic feel. Have a look at the Yongwang shrine and enjoy the slightly eccentric courtyard that houses the three large silver statues of the Buddha.

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As you first approach the strange silver statues of the Buddha.

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The row of Palsang-do murals that back the silver statues.

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The three statues in a row with Amita-bul in the centre joined by Seokgamoni-bul to the right and Mireuk-bul to the left.

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A look towards the main hall from the eastern courtyard.

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A closer look as you approach the main hall.

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The temple’s tiny bell pavilion.

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Some of the ornate and vibrant latticework that fronts the main hall’s doors.

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One of the paintings from the Palsang-do set that adorns some of the exterior walls to the main hall.

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As well as this all-white Gwanseeum-bosal painting.

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This beautiful painting of Munsu-bosal awaits you as you first enter the main hall.

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The main altar statues inside the main hall.

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The paintings of flowers and Podae-hwasang that adorn the ceiling inside the main hall.

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The guardian mural housed inside the main hall.

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The blue bridge and Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall at Jingwansa Temple.

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The large Chilseong mural housed inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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Alongside Dokseong.

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And Sanshin.

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The beautiful Yongwang shrine placed on the north end of the temple grounds.

Cheongyeonam Hermitage – 청연암 (Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The Koi pond at Cheongyeonam Hermitage in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Cheongyeonam Hermitage in Masan, Gyeongsangnam-do is situated just to the south of the valley that houses both Wongaksa Temple and Baekunsa Temple. And it’s beautifully framed, like the other two temples, by the towering Mt. Muhaksan (761.4m).

Off of the busy Muhak Road, and up a winding country side street, you’ll come across Cheongyeonam Hermitage. On the lower courtyard of the hermitage are the monks’ dorms and visitors’ centre, as well as a beautiful Koi pond that is placed in the centre of some beautifully cared-for and manicured grounds.

There is a bridge that intersects the beautiful Koi pond, and it also leads you towards a set of uneven stone stairs and the upper courtyard at Cheongyeonam Hermitage. And there is really only one hall at the hermitage that you can visit, the Daeung-jeon main hall. The exterior walls to this beautiful large hall are painted with a pair of mural sets. The first, on top, is the Palsang-do set. And the one on the bottom is the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, mural set. Both are masterfully rendered.

As for stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll be welcomed by a set of three statues seated on the main altar. The one in the middle is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And he’s joined to the right by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and to the left by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Filling out the rest of the hall, and to the right of the main altar, is an older guardian mural and a more recent mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal. But it’s to the left of the main altar that you get to enjoy an older set of shaman murals. The first is dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars), while the other two are dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). The final shaman painting in the set, and a much more recent addition than the others, is Yongwang (The Dragon King) mural.

Just to the right of the main hall is a rather unique stone structure. I’ve never seen this before, but the stone structure almost looks to be a stele and pagoda put together into one structure. It’s unique and beautiful.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Masan Intercity Bus Terminal, there are several buses that go to where Cheongyeonam Hermitage is located. One of these buses is Bus #707. After eight stops, or sixteen minutes, you’ll need to get off at the “Seowongok Ipgu” stop. Head south from where the bus lets you off. Head that way for about a kilometre on Muhak Road. The sign for the hermitage will appear on your right as you head south. Follow that side-street for a little and you’ll arrive at Cheongyeonam Hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. There are certainly a few highlights to this temple, but because it’s a bit smaller, it gets the rating it does. First, the older shaman paintings inside the Daeung-jeon Hall are second to known. Another highlight is the beautiful and serene Koi pond out in front of the main hall. And the final is the stele/pagoda combination to the right of the main hall.

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The large Daeung-jeon main hall at Cheongryeonam Hermitage.

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The stele/pagoda combination to the right of the main hall.

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A closer look at a part of the body of the pagoda.

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One of the Shimu-do murals.

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And a mural taken from the Palsang-do mural set.

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A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

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Joined by this older looking Sanshin mural.

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This Dokseong mural.

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And this Chilseong mural.

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A look at the main hall from the front.

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The Koi pond out in front of the main hall.

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And a closer look at the colourful Koi that swim in the pond.