Daewonam Hermitage – 대원암 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The view from Daewonam Hermitage near Pyochungsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Daewonam Hermitage is located to the west of the famed Pyochungsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do. When you first approach the compact courtyard to Daewonam Hermitage, you’ll notice a uniquely designed entrance gate. There are two fading murals of a dragon to the left on the exterior walls of the gate. The interior has some fiercely painted guardians on either side of the gate as you first enter it. And as you pass into the courtyard, you’ll notice, what seems to be, two of the ten Ox-Herding murals.

Having passed through the uniquely illustrated gate, you’ll notice the kitchen complex to the left and the nuns’ dorms to the right. Strangely, the main hall appears more like a dorm than it does like a main hall. Stepping up onto the hallway that rests just outside the entrance of the main hall, you’ll be able to see the older-looking guardian painting tucked away in the corner on the far left. I slid the doors open nervously, not knowing if I was opening a nuns’ dorm or the main hall. Fortunately, I was opening the door to the main hall. Resting on the walls next to the main altar are a pair of stars: one pink and one gold. This is combined with a ceiling full of pink paper lotus flowers.  And sitting on the main altar is a centralized Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And he’s flanked by Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right. Other than this, there’s an altar on the far right wall for the deceased and nothing else inside the main hall.

Passing by the kitchen to your left, on the way up to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine, you’ll notice a door opening to your right. This opening is attached to the main hall, and looks to be a storage area. Resting on the wall, above a make-shift altar, is a painting of Jowang (The Fireplace King Spirit).

Continuing, you’ll walk up an uneven set of stone stairs on your way towards the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. The paintings of the three shaman deities inside this hall are beautiful. Both the Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), as well as the Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) paintings are newer looking, while the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) painting in the centre is definitely older in appearance. The exterior of this hall is painted with murals that are related to these three shaman deities.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Pyochungsa Temple, take an intercity bus to the Miryang bus terminal.  From there, you can catch a bus to Pyochungsa Temple which runs from 7:35 a.m. to 8:20 p.m. every 40 minutes.  The ride will take you between 40 to 50 minutes. Instead of heading straight towards the Iljumun Gate, head right at a road that heads towards the hermitage.

OVERALL RATING: 3/10. This hermitage will certainly not blow you away with its splendour. With that being said, there are a few highlights to Daewonam Hermitage. One highlight is the fierce looking guardians inside the entrance gate. Another is the decorative main hall and the Jowang mural in the adjacent storage area. Finally, the older looking Chilseong painting inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall is another highlight that shouldn’t be overlooked at this hermitage. In combination with Pyochungsa Temple, it can make for a nice little outing in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam.

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The gate that welcomes you to Daewonam Hermitage.

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A dragon mural that adorns the outer walls of the entry gate.

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A look through the entry gate towards the main hall at the hermitage.

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One of the guardian murals that adorns the entry gate.

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As well as another guardian mural.

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One of the Ox-Herding murals that adorns the inner portion of the entry gate.

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The diminutive main hall at Daewonam Hermitage.

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The view of the neighbouring mountains from the main hall.

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The guardian mural that hangs just outside the main hall entrance.

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The colourful main hall interior.

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The extremely rare kitchen guardian, Jowang, at Daewonam Hermitage.

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The fierce tiger that adorns the exterior walls to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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The older and elaborate Chilseong mural inside the shaman shrine hall.

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As well as the accompanying Dokseong mural.

Yonggungsa Temple – 용궁사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The temple courtyard at Yonggungsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just south of the more prominent Cheongyeongsa Temple, as well as the Miryang River, is the hillside Yonggungsa Temple, which means Dragon Palace Temple, in English. While certainly not as famous as its namesake in Busan, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, the Yonggungsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do has a unique charm of its own.

When you first approach the temple up a small country backstreet, you’ll be greeted by the temple’s main gate. Adorning the gate doors are a pair of peeling guardian murals. They’ve peeled so much that only their heads now appear. Inside the gate are a pair of statues that appear to be Dongjin-bosal (Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings). Not only have I never seen Dongjin-bosal housed inside an entry gate, but there are two of him. And both of them have one of their wings broken off from their helmet. It might be that while placing the temple’s lawn chairs inside this gate, which is also used for storage, that they snapped off.

Finally entering the temple grounds, one of the first things you’ll notice, which is unique to most Korean Buddhist temples, is that the temple courtyard has grass. Up on a knoll is where all of the temple shrine halls are located. Straight ahead is the main hall. Wrapped around its exterior walls are the Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Uniquely, this set only has seven of the potential ten paintings. As for inside, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad of statues centred by 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). Hanging on the left wall is a set of murals. The first is the rather plain guardian mural. It’s joined by a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal, as well as the Dragon Ship of Wisdom. Additionally, the ceiling of the main hall is beautifully adorned with large paper lotus lanterns.

To the right of the main hall is a dharma-looking stone statue. However, this isn’t the dharma; instead, it’s Podae-hwasang.

To the left of the main hall is a peculiar shrine hall. Sitting on the main altar, and in the centre, is a stone statue dedicated to a Buddha (presumably Mireuk-bul). To the left of this statue is an older looking painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King). And to the right of the statue stand small statues of the twelve Zodiac Generals.

Between both the peculiar shrine hall and the main hall, and up a flight of granite stairs, is the rather large Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. While all the murals inside this hall are large in size, they are pretty ordinary in composition. However, the tiger painted inside the Sanshin mural does look possessed.

HOW TO GET THERE: There are two ways you can get to Yonggungsa Temple. The first is from the Miryang train station. You can take either Bus #1-2, #7 or the “Gagok” bus. After 3 stops, you’ll need to get off at the KT&G stop. From there, follow the signs that lead you towards Yonggungsa Temple and Cheongyeongsa Temple. The walk should take about 10 minutes over 800 metres.

Or you could simply take a taxi from the Miryang train station. The ride should only take 6 minutes and cost you 2,800 won.

OVERALL RATING: 5/10. While not as spectacular as the neighbouring Cheongyeongsa Temple, Yonggungsa Temple has a charm all its own. From its grassy temple courtyard to both of its spacious main hall and Samseong-gak, the lesser known Miryang Yonggungsa Temple has a fair bit to offer a visitor. In addition, the peculiar shrine hall and the Podae-hwasang stone statue are something to enjoy, as well.

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The view from the hillside next to Yonggungsa Temple.

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The front gate at the temple.

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The guardian mural that is slowly peeling away.

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The lawn chairs and Dongjin-bosal statue together in the entry gate at Yonggungsa Temple.

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The main hall at Yonggungsa Temple.

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The stone statue of Podae-hwasang to the right of the main hall.

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Strangely, only one of seven Ox-Herding murals adorning the main hall.

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The main altar inside the main hall.

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The guardian mural inside the main hall.

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As well as the Dragon Ship of Wisdom.

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The highly elaborate ceiling to the main hall.

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The Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

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Inside is this mural and statue of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

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To the left of the Samseong-gak is this unusual shrine hall.

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Inside is housed this statue of the Buddha (perhaps the Future Buddha, Mireuk-bul).

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The older looking Yongwang mural dedicated to the Dragon King.

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Four little figurines that a devotee left behind.

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As well as this lily pond.

Cheongyeongsa Temple – 천경사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The beautiful cave shrine at Cheongyeongsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do

Hello Again Everyone!!

Located on the southern banks of the Miryang River in the heart of Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do is the scenic Cheongyeongsa Temple. The temple is located on a hill that overlooks some neighbouring farms and is surrounded by numerous temples on the hill like Yonggungsa Temple and Sudosa Temple.

You first approach the temple through a forested trail from the south. Along the entire way, the Miryang River will be to your right. When you finally do arrive at the temple, the first thing to greet you, just out in front of the temple’s gate, is a five tier stone pagoda. The etchings on the pagoda are fading. Having stepped through the gate, and to your left, is one of the more unique pagodas you’ll find in Korea. The five tier concrete pagoda is crowned by a large stone statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Each wide tier is adorned with tiny jade statues of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife.

A little further along, and the pagodas give way to a network of subterranean buildings and corridors. On top of these buildings, like the monks’ dorms, kitchen, and visitors’ centre, are the temple’s shrine halls. It’s also from this part of the temple, standing on top of the subterranean buildings, that you get a great view of the Miryang River to the right. Rectangular paper lanterns line the hand-rail that runs the entire length of the temple look-out. To the left is the temple’s diminutive pond and a set of bronze coloured statues that over-look the pond on the neighbouring ledge. In the centre of these statues, and the largest of the set, is Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). She’s joined to the left by a smaller golden statue of herself and to the right by Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).

To the rear of the temple grounds is the temple’s main hall. Making up the back wall of the temple is the pock-marked stone face of the neighbouring hill. Sitting in the centre of the main hall is a statue of Amita-bul who is backed by a fiery nimbus. Standing on either side of Amita-bul, and housed inside their own hallowed out shrines, are Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal (The Power and Wisdom for Amita-bul). Hanging on the right wall of the main hall is a uniquely designed guardian mural.

To the left of the main hall, and slightly elevated up the embankment, is the Samseong-gak. The shrine hall houses three rather ordinary shaman murals; but to the left of the main hall, and painted on the exterior wall, is a large, multi-stripped tiger.

But it’s down from this shaman shrine hall, and through a network of corridors, that you’ll find the temple’s true claim to fame: the cave shrine hall. To the left of a large meeting hall is the first shrine in the cave. Just outside the entry to the cave is an altar dedicated to Jijang-bosal. He is joined by a beautiful mural of Gwanseeum-bosal.

It’s to the left of the Gwanseeum-bosal mural where the mouth of the cave is located. The walls of the cave are beautifully lined with paper lotus lanterns that light up the darkness. These flowers are also joined by tiny white lights that line the entire length of the cave. Finally emerging on the other side, you’ll come to a cave with a radius of ten metres. The cave is lined with bronze metal plates. There are two altars inside the cave. The first of the two is centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Next to it, and standing squarely inside the rounded cave, is a triad, once more, centred by Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined by Gwanseeum-bosal and Jijang-bosal. The interior of the walls are lined by sixteen statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha).

HOW TO GET THERE: There are two ways you can get to Cheongyeongsa Temple. The first is from the Miryang train station. You can take either Bus #1-2, #7 or the “Gagok” bus. After 3 stops, you’ll need to get off at the KT&G stop. From there, follow the signs that lead you towards Cheongyeongsa Temple. The walk should take about 10 minutes over 800 metres.

Or you could simply take a taxi from the Miryang train station. The ride should only take 6 minutes and cost you 2,800 won.The distance is a mere 1.7 km in length.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. The second of two cave temples I’ve visited in Miryang, alongside Yeoyeojeongsa Temple to the south, Cheongyeongsa Temple certainly doesn’t disappoint. The cave shrine is beautifully lined with well-lit lotus lanterns. Adding to the temple’s overall beauty is the view and the shrines inside the main temple courtyard. While the grounds are a bit run down, there is more than enough, especially underground, for people to enjoy.

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The temple entrance at Cheongyeongsa Temple.

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The older pagoda and entry gate at the temple.

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The extremely unique five tier concrete pagoda with jade statues on each level.

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A look at the temple grounds.

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The triad of statues that stand in the main temple courtyard.

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The view with the unique rectangular lanterns hanging from the look-out platform.

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The above ground temple shrine halls at Cheongyeongsa Temple.

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The main hall’s main altar with Amita-bul front and centre.

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To the left stands Daesaeji-bul in his own cavernous shrine.

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The smaller sized guardian mural inside the main hall.

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A look inside the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall to the left of the main hall. To the left sits Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and to the right sits Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit).

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The fierce mountain tiger that adorns the exterior wall to the Samseong-gak.

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The pathway that leads down to the subterranean shrines.

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The first shrine is dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

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These beautiful paper lanterns line the pathway that leads up to the large cave shrine.

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A better look at the beautiful pathway lined with colourful paper lanterns.

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The view from inside the cave shrine with the second shrine to the right and a Nahan to the left.

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And the third shrine.

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A look at some of the Nahan statues that line the cave.

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And a couple more of these masterful stone statues.

Yeoyeojeongsa Temple – 여여정사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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 Inside the Upper Chamber of the Yaksa-jeon Hall at Yeoyeojeongsa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Yeoyeojeongsa Temple is located on the southern side of Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do and not far from the neighbouring city of Yangsan near Mt. Cheontaesan.

You first approach the temple up a set of rural roads and past a collection of tombs. When you do finally near the temple grounds, you’ll be welcomed by a collection of stone lamps and four towering statues dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings that line the road that leads up to the temple.

Underneath a gnarled tree is a golden statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s joined by the Bodhidharma to the left, as well as part of the collection of 108 stone dongja (attendants) that playfully appear at both of the larger statues’ feet.

A little further along, and where the path forks to the left, you’ll notice a twisting dharma underneath a grove of bamboo trees. It’s just past this, as well as a few more playful dongja statues, that you’ll notice the temple’s main hall: the Daeungbo-jeon Hall. The Daeungbo-jeon Hall sits on the second floor of the two story building. There are seven statues spread across the main altar. Seated in the centre is Seokgamoni-bul. The murals that back these seven statues are highly unique and original. The first floor of the main hall acts as the Geukrak-jeon Hall. Sitting all alone on the elevated main altar rests an Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) statue. And in front of the main altar there are numerous wooden alcoves that jet off to the side that are well lit with a golden hue that emanates from tiny Buddha statues.

To the left of the Daeungbo-jeon are even more stone statues of the dongja. In addition, there are a triad of roughly cut stone statues with Seokgamoni-bul in the centre. There is also some hot water for tea underneath a wooden pavilion for visitors to enjoy at Yeoyeojeongsa Temple.

But the main highlight, and the real reason you’ve probably come to Yeoyeojeongsa Temple, is the Yaksa-jeon cave hall at the temple. The entry to this cave lies to the left of the Daeungbo-jeon Hall. As you step inside this cave entrance, you’re instantly greeted by a number of statues. Hanging a right, you’ll be welcomed to the lower chamber by a triad of standing statues centred by Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha). A little further along, and past even more white granite statues, you’ll notice a seated statue dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Finally, at the end of the stone hall, you’ll be welcomed by a cul-de-sac of smaller sized Buddha statues with another large statue dedicated to Yaksayore-bul in the centre.

Having exited this hallway, and making your way up the first corridor and past a collection of brown Nahan statues, you’ll enter the upper Yaksa-jeon chamber. The wooden paneled ceiling is met by the beautiful splendor of the small wading pools of water and the Koi fish that swim in their midst. In the centre of the rows of smaller sized Buddhas is another serenely seated statue of Yaksayore-bul. He’s joined on either side by water-pouring statues of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion), as well as a line of bronze statues of the 33 incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal.

Over a stone bridge to the right of the central statues is a small ante-chamber that houses a stone statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King), who is backed by a beautiful wooden relief of the shaman deity. And it’s only with good eyes, as you step into this ante-chamber, that you’ll find a small rock opening for the Sanshin-gak. Inside this shaman off-shoot is a statue and mural dedicated to both Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Sanshin.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Busan Train Station, you’ll need to take a Mugunghwa train to the Samrangjin Train Station. From there, take a taxi to Yeoyeojeongsa Temple. The trip should take 8.4 kilometres and cost you 11,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10. There’s very little doubt that the Yaksa-jeon Hall is the main star of this out-of-the-way temple. And yet, pictures simply don’t suffice for the hall’s spectacular beauty. I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it before in all of my travels in Korea. So while it might be hard to get to, it’s well worth the time and effort just to find yourself exploring the Yaksa-jeon cave hall at Yeoyeojeongsa Temple.

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The Buddha and the Bodhidharma, together.

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One of the 108 dongja at Yeoyeojeongsa Temple.

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Another Dharma underneath a bamboo grove.

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The Daeungbo-jeon Hall and a triad of statues.

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A rather cool dongja.

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The main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon.

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The main altar inside the Daeungbo-jeon.

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The entrance to the amazing Yaksa-jeon cave shrine hall.

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The main altar in the lower chamber.

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A corridor through the lower chamber.

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Wall-to-wall Buddhas with a statue of Sanshin in the centre.

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Another healing image of Yaksayore-bul.

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Pictures simply don’t suffice!

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One of the Nahan that lines the way towards the upper chamber of the Yaksa-jeon Hall.

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Gwanseeum-bosal on a turtle mount surrounded by statues on all sides.

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Another Gwanseeum-bosal statue surrounded by more wall-to-wall statues and stone.

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Koi swimming in the shallow pools of water.

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Five of the thirty-three incarnations of Gwanseeum-bosal.

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One more image of Gwanseeum-bosal next to the entry of the Yongwang-dang.

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Yongwang both in wooden relief and stone.

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The entry to the Sanshin-gak.

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A devotee praying in front of Gwanseeum-bosal.

Samyeong-daesa – 사명 대사 (1544-1610)

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A picture of Samyeong-daesa from Jikjisa Temple

Hello Again Everyone!!

This is the fifth installment on prominent Buddhist monks in Korean history. And this time, I thought I would talk about Master Samyeong-daesa, who I have long found very interesting for a number of reasons. So keep reading and find out why, as you learn a bit more about the Joseon Dynasty monk, Samyeong-daesa.

Samyeong was a Seon master with the Buddhist name, at least during his lifetime, of Yujeong; however, he became posthumously known as Samyeong-daesa. Samyeong-daesa was born at a time in the mid-Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) where there was a lot of upheaval. It was a period that included the Imjin War from 1592 to 1598. Samyeong-daesa would become one of the leading warrior monks during this hellish period in Korean history.

Samyeong-daesa was born in the city of Miryang in Gyeongsangnam-do Province. Tragically, his mom would die in 1558, which was followed by the death of his father in 1559. Shortly after their deaths, Samyeong became a monk at the famed Jikjisa Temple in Gimcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do. During his studies, he studied both Buddhist and Confucian texts. Later, in 1575, Samyeong was nominated to become the head of the Seon Order; however, he refused. Instead, he chose to travel to Mt. Myohyangsan instead. It was here that he became the disciple of Master Seosan.

Samyeong-daesa was one of the leading disciples of Master Seosan. And it was through Seosan’s influence and instruction that Samyeong-daesa took up arms against the invading Japanese during the Imjin War. In fact, and after joining forces with Seosan, Samyeong helped defend Haeinsa Temple, Gounsa Temple, and the Haenam region of Jeollanam-do from the Japanese.

After the war, Samyeong was appointed as the royal envoy. During his negotiation with the Japanese, to which he traveled to Japan, Samyeong successfully negotiated a peace agreement. After the war, Samyeong returned to Korea with Korean prisoners of war, as well as priceless religious artifacts.

Not long after the Imjin War, Samyeong retired. As a sign of appreciation, the king built Hongjeam Hermitage near Haeinsa Temple. With failing health, Samyeong-daesa passed away in 1610. His stupa and stele remain at this hermitage to this very day. After his death, special shrines were built at Pyochungsa Temple, Jikjisa Temple, and Daeheungsa Temple. To this very day, Samyeong-daesa continues to be remembered as one of Korea’s greatest heroes, and his writings are preserved in the Samyeong-daesa-jip.

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 Samyeong-daesa: The warrior monk

Bueunsa Temple – 부은사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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A scenic view of Bueunsa Temple from the surrounding mountains of Mt. Cheontaesan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Continuing with the weekly celebration to the lead-up to Buddha’s birthday this Monday, I thought I would share yet another one of Korea’s beautiful Buddhist temples. This time, I explored Bueunsa Temple. Buensa Temple (부은사) was the last major temple I had yet to visit on Mt. Cheontaesan. I was told by an English speaking monk at the temple, whose English was excellent, that the temple dates back 1800 years. And it was first established during the Gaya Kingdom from visiting monks from India.

When you first arrive at Bueunsa Temple, after making your way up a steep gravel road, you’ll be greeted by the temple’s dorms and kitchen. Behind this building, and to the left, is the temple’s main courtyard.

Immediately, you’re greeted by a modern looking Yongwang-dang dedicated to the shaman deity, Yongwang (The Dragon King). There are two oval glass windows that allow you to look inside the hall without actually going inside. Inside of this hall, there’s a nice painting of Yongwang with a statue of Okhwang-sangje (The Daoist Jade Emperor) to the left. To the rear of the Yongwang-dang is the Samseong-gak shrine hall. Sitting on the main altar of this newly established hall is Chiseonggwangyeorae-bul, and he’s flanked by Ilgwang (The Bodhisattva of the Sun) and Wolgwang (The Bodhisattva of the Moon), which are backed by an older mural of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). Flanking this triad of statues is San shin (The Mountain Spirit) and Dokseong (The Recluse). There are also some nice new murals of the Nahan inside of this hall.

To the right of these two shaman structures is the natural wood looking bell pavilion. The bell pavilion houses some impressive Buddhist ceremonial music instruments like the Braham Bell and the Dharma Drum. Interestingly, and in front of the bell pavilion, is a map of what the head monk wants the temple to eventually look like when it’s completed.

Next to the bell pavilion is the main hall. It’s surrounded by some nice Palsang-do paintings of the historical Buddha’s life. Interestingly, I met the man that painted them, Mr. Gwan, because he had just completed them the day before. As for the interior of the main hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a set of five statues. In the centre is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He’s flanked to the left by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) and Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) to the right. And to the far left is a golden haired (Jijang-bosal) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the far right. To the left of this altar, and harkening back to the temple’s origins, is a sign dedicated to King Suro, the founding king of the Gaya Kingdom. The altar is surrounded by a beautiful canopy and hundreds of tiny golden statues of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. On the far right wall, there’s a beautiful large guardian painting. This is fronted by Dongjin-bosal (The Bodhisattva that Protects the Buddha’s Teachings). This is the most impressive statue of this Bodhisattva that I’ve ever seen.

It was at this point that the head monk at the temple spotted me. He yelled out of the main hall to someone that a foreigner was visiting. It was at this point that I met a nice monk that speaks flawless English. He told me a lot about the temple and a hidden treasure at the temple. There’s a statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) in the monk’s quarters. This statue is over 300 years old. And it’s accompanied by three murals that date back 80 years, the most notable being the mural on the left dedicated to San shin. The other two murals are dedicated to Amita-bul and the Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha). And in front of this statue and mural are the purported remains of the historical Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul, that the head monk paid a lot of money in Nepal to bring them back to Korea. In the future, and as part of the temple plan, there will be a pagoda that will be built to house these remains. It was thanks to the English speaking monk, that I was able to see all of the temple’s hidden treasures.

As for the rest of the temple grounds, there is a Nahan-jeon dedicated to the Disiciples of the Historical Buddha to the right rear of the main hall. There are some interesting statues of the Nahan riding elephants inside of this hall. Also, there is the triad of Seokgamoni-bul in the centre. He’s flanked by Jaehwagalra-bosal (The Past Buddha) to the left and Mireuk-bosal (The Future Buddha) to the right on the main altar, and beautiful murals of the Nahan surrounding this central triad.

Up the mountainside, and to the right of the temple grounds, is a cave with a triad of statues inside. The climb is about 1.5 kilometres, but it provides for some amazing views of the temple, the Nakdong River, and the sprawling valley below. As for the cave itself, it’s a rather deep cave with a protective cover over top of its entrance. The triad of stone statues that sit on its altar are Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) in the centre. He’s flanked by Dokseong (The Recluse) to the left, and Mago Shin Seon (A shaman spirit), which is an extremely rare deity to see at a Buddhist temple.

HOW TO GET THERE: Unfortunately, unless you have your own car, or you can hitch a ride, this temple is impossible to visit through public transit. Hopefully, if you’re interested enough to visit, the map below will be enough of a help to find this remote temple.

크게 보기

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. Just for having an English speaker as a monk alone, this temple rates as highly as it does. It’s so nice to be able to talk to someone that can explain the intricacies of the temple’s history. Also, the kindness of the monks to allow me to see the temple’s private treasures like the Amita-bul statue and the San shin painting are two other highlights to this temple. This temple is littered with shaman deities, a gorgeous main hall, and a cave shrine, which only help enhance this temple’s overall rating. And yet, it’s not even complete. I can only imagine just how amazing this beautiful, but humble, temple will be when it’s completed.

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The beautiful main hall at Bueunsa Temple.
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A look inside the bell pavilion.
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The head-monks vision of what the temple will look like when it’s completed.
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One of the murals from the Palsang-do set. This one is the last of the eight, which depicts the Buddha’s earthly demise.
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The amazing interior of this Taego sect Buddhist main hall.
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The large guardian mural with Dongjin-bosal to the left.
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The three hundred year old statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) in the centre inside the monks’ quarters.
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The purported earthly remains, sari, of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha).
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The obscured San shin painting from inside the monks’ quarters. This painting is over 80 years old.
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The shaman shrines at Bueunsa Temple. In the foreground is the Yongwang-dang, and in the background is the Samseong-gak.
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A look inside the Yongwang-dang at the mural of Yongwang (The Dragon King).
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A look inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall at the main altar inside the hall.
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One of the murals that sits upon the walls inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall.
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The view from the Samseong-gak shrine hall at the temple grounds and the valley and river down below.
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The view from the trail head that leads up to the cave shrine on top of Mt. Cheontaesan. You get a good look at the newly constructed Nahan-jeon.
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A look inside the Nahan-jeon at the main altar pieces.
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The statues and murals that depict the various Nahan (The Disciples of the Historical Buddha).
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The hazardous mountainside trail that leads up to the cave shrine.
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The view from the mountainside plateau as you near the cave shrine.
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And a look inside the cave shrine at the altar.

Yeongsanjeongsa Temple – 영산정사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The stunning seven tier pagoda hall at Yeongsanjeongsa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Up a very long country road, you’ll finally arrive at Yeongsanjeongsa Temple on the northwestern outskirts of Miryang. And with it placed not too far from my town, I thought I would explore yet another of Gyeongsangnam-do’s hidden treasures. However, long before you ever come close to the temple grounds, you’ll be able to spot a gorgeous structure reaching up towards the sky. This structure, which dominates the temple grounds, is the seven tier pagoda hall.

The first thing to greet you at the temple is a rather non-descript Iljumun Gate. After passing through this, you’ll be greeted by a couple of stone spiritual guardian poles. Finally, you’ll have arrived at the rather spacious temple courtyard. To your immediate left is a large building that acts as the monks’ dorms, kitchen, and visitors’ centre. And to the right of this modern looking building is a beautiful statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). He’s surrounded by a shallow pool of water and two attendants that are standing chin deep in the water.

Housed between the statue of Gwanseeum-bosal and the Myeongbu-jeon hall is the amazing seven tier pagoda hall. It is remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, it acts as a sort of museum for the temple. Around the concrete pagoda are various Buddhist statues and vases. Inside the pagoda (which is 2,000 won to enter), and on the first floor, is a hall filled with prominent historical monks throughout the ages in Korean history. Also, there are numerous large statues on the first floor. On the second floor there are numerous paintings from various temples in the area. And on the third floor are a world record setting amount of sari, monks remains, which occupy the entire floor in display cases. And on the fourth floor, the final floor to display anything, are numerous Buddhist statues. Finally, on the fifth and final floor that you can explore, is a bit of an observation area that you can see the temple and surrounding valley below.

The two main halls at the temple are next to the seven tier concrete pagoda. When we arrived, they were preparing for Buddha’s birthday, so a canopy of colourful paper lanterns had already been mounted. They were framed by a pair of rather plain looking nine tier stone pagodas.

On the left is another concrete hall at  Yeongsanjeongsa  Temple. This time, it’s the Myeongbu-jeon hall dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). The exterior of the hall is adorned with very simplistic paintings of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. They must have been saving their money on these paintings, because the paintings inside of this hall are some of the most original I’ve ever seen in all of Korea. Sitting on the long altar are seven statues of Jijang-bosal backed by amazing paintings of this Bodhisattva with various depictions of hell at their base. To the far left is a wall of gold to commemorate the dead, while on the right is a stunning painting that depicts the various stages of the journey from hell to heaven (very Dantesque).

Between the Myeongbu-jeon and the main hall is a man-made waterfall that houses what looks to be a moon rock carving of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on it. Surrounding the exterior of the main hall are the Palsang-do paintings that depict the ten stages of the historical Buddha’s life. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, are five of Korea’s most original paintings of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In the centre is Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). He is flanked by Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) to the left and to the right is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And on the farthest two sides from the centre are Yaksayore-bul  (The Medicine Buddha) on the far right side and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) on the far left. The spacious main hall has a newer looking painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) on the far right wall and the temple’s guardian painting.

As a bit of a side note, the temple is a couple of kilometers away from the birthplace of Sa-myeong-daesa, the warrior monk. Admission to the temple is free.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to Yeongsanjeongsa Temple only by first arriving in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do. From the Inter-City Bus Terminal in Miryang, you’ll have to catch the “Seogeojyeong” bus. The bus ride will take you around 40 minutes, and you’ll have to get off at the Seogeojyeong stop. From this stop, you’ll have to walk about 10 minutes to get to the temple. It’ll be easy enough to see because the top of the pagoda protrudes forth from the valley.

View Larger Map

OVERALL RATING: 7/10. For the seven tier pagoda hall itself, this hall is rated as highly as it is. Added to it are the contents of the pagoda as well as the interior of the Myeongbu-jeon and the main hall, and it only adds to the temple’s overall rating.

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A look at the temple courtyard as you first enter it.
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The statue of the stoic Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion).
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An up-close look at the beautifully sculpted statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.
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And a better look at the stunning seven tier pagoda at Yeongsanjeongsa Temple.
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A beautiful ornamental pot that sits outside of the pagoda.
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The first floor hall inside of the pagoda with all of the monks’ paintings on display.
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An up-close of Wonhyo-daesa.
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A look at an Indian-looking statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.
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A contemplative statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).
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One of the more amazing shaman paintings I’ve seen at a Korean temple. It has all the major players if you look close enough at it.
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Another beautiful painting that hangs inside of the pagoda. This is a beautiful rendering of Chilseong (The Seven Stars). In total, there are three Chilseong paintings at the temple.
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The rows upon rows of sari (monks’ remains).
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The view from the fifth floor of the pagoda.
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The waterfall between the two halls at the temple.
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And the moon rock-looking Buddhist statue that sits in the middle of the waterfall pond.
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The rudimentary Ten Kings of the Underworld paintings around the Myeongbu-jeon hall.
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Two monks looking at the Dantesque painting of the journey from hell to heaven inside of the Myeongbu-jeon hall.
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Two, of the seven, depictions of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) inside the Myeongbu-jeon hall.
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Just one of the paintings from the set of Palsang-do paintings.
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Inside the amazing main hall, and a look at the main altar statues and paintings.
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A look at Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) with the honey-combed painting at his back.
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The beautiful Chilseong (Seven Stars) painting inside of the main hall.
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And one last look up at the pagoda through the canopy of paper lanterns at Yeongsanjeongsa Temple.

Maneosa Temple – 만어사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The amazing black boulders that start at the base of the mountain and make their way up to Maneosa Temple in Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Checking another temple off of the list for Gyeongsangnam-do temples I have yet to visit, I decided to visit  Maneosa  Temple in southern Miryang.

Like all historical temples, Maneosa has a pretty good creation story. In fact, it’s memorialized in the famous Samguk yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms). In this text, it states that during the reign of King Suro (r. 42 A.D. – 199 A.D.) lived in a lotus pond called Okji within the Gaya Kingdom (around present day Gimhae). This dragon started a relationship with a Nachal, which is similar to a siren from Greek mythology. As a result of this relationship, thunderstorms and hailstorms rained down on the Gaya Kingdom for four years, which prevented grains from growing. In a attempt to alleviate these drought like conditions, King Suro used sorcery. With this not working, King Suro then called on the Buddha in India. Through his divine power, the Buddha became aware of the king’s problems and came to Korea to help. He was joined by six monks and ten thousand followers. The Buddha was easily able to defeat the dragon and the Nachal, which brought an end to all problems in the kingdom. As a sign of thanks, King Suro built ManeosaTemple for the Buddha.

You first approach Maneosa Temple (만어사), which means 10,000 Fish Temple in English, up a long and steep mountain side road situated on Mt. Maneosan. Finally, you’ll arrive at the temple. You can enter the courtyard in one of two ways. The first way is to head up the ramp to the right of the bell pavilion, or you can head up the steep set of stone stairs. It’s funny, because there’s actually a sign that says for older people to use the ramp instead of the stairs. I wonder what happened to warrant such a sign.

If you’re like me, and you head up the set of stone (slash boulder) stairway, you’ll see a colourful bell pavilion to your far left. Next to this is the building that acts as the monks’ dorms and kitchen. Straight ahead is the very compact main hall at the temple. Around the exterior of this hall are some beautifully rendered Palsang-do paintings that depict the Historical Buddha’s life. And in front of the main hall are two delicate designed stone lanterns. As for the interior of the hall, it’s wonderfully adorned with various colours. On the main altar a triad of statues is centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To the left of this altar is a golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). To the right of the main altar is a statue of a green-haired Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). On the far right wall is an originally and uniquely designed guardian painting with one of the best renderings of Dongjin-bosal (The Protector of the Buddha’s Teachings) in the centre of the mural that I’ve seen in quite some time. Interestingly, and next to the guardian painting, is a mural of Gwanseeum-bosal. And beneath this mural, and resting on the altar, is an altar dedicated to the former Korean president, Roh Moo Hyun. It’s definitely a very unique touch to the temple.

To the right of the main hall is the Samseong-gak shrine hall. The exterior of this hall, surprisingly, is unadorned. However, the interior of the hall has three beautiful paintings of the three most popular shaman deities in Korean shamanism. In the centre is Chilseong (The Seven Stars), and he’s flanked on either side by Dokseong (The Recluse) and San shin (The Mountain Spirit). The painting of San shin, and especially the painting of the tiger, are two of the more intense paintings of the spirit I’ve seen in a while.

It’s from the vantage point of the Samseong-gak shrine hall that you first catch the amazing views of the valley below that possesses numerous rolling hills, as well as the sea of black rocks that leads down the mountain like a trail of bread crumbs. So the story goes that the rocks use to be five women and a dragon that lived in the area. Together, they would do evil deeds. One day, they heard the Buddha’s sermon and turned into stone. Currently, all of the stones are turned towards the peak and if you tap on them they’ll either sound like iron or jade.

Next to the Samseong-gak shrine hall is a masterfully rendered stone statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the  Western Paradise). And not too surprisingly, he’s facing the west. Stepping down from this stone statue altar, and housed in the centre of the temple courtyard, is a stone pagoda that dates back to sometime around 1181.

Slightly to the left, and through a path that leads through a part of the black stone bread crumbs, is the temple’s most unique hall. As you approach, the first thing you’ll notice is that the hall is actually two stories high. And wrapped around the hall are some of the cutest Shimu-do paintings you’ll see. Strangely, there’s a hole cut out of the back of the hall with a rock that appears to jut into this hall. And once you do enter the hall you’ll see a massive rock housed inside of this hall. The story behind this rock being housed inside this hall, just like having a rock housed inside of a Buddhist hall, is unique. The story states how the son of the Dragon King (Yongwang) came from the East Sea and crossed the Nakdong River because he realized his death was near. He came looking for the famous monk at Mt. Mucheoksan. The son of the Dragon King asked the monk for a new place to reside. The monk told him to reside where a prince sat to rest. And after the prince eventually left after resting, thousands of fish followed Yongwang’s son to where Maneosa Temple is located.  As for the prince, he supposedly turned into Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) and appeared on the large rock inside of the shrine hall at Maneosa Temple. As for the fish that followed Yongwang’s son, they turned into the thousands of black rocks known as Eosanbulyeong. And now, if you pray to this rock inside of the shrine hall at ManeosaTemple you will be blessed with a son.

HOW TO GET THERE: Before you ever arrive at Maneosa Temple, you’ll first have to do a couple things to get to this well hidden gem. First, you’ll have to get to the city of Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do from wherever it is in Korea that you call home. Then you have to get a bus that heads to “Samrangjin” (삼랑진) at the Miryang Bus Terminal. From this bus, you’ll have to get off at Samrangjin Station and board a local bus to “Ugokri” (우곡리). It’s from Ugokri that you’ll have to walk the rest of the way up to Maneosa Temple.

View 만어사 in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. There are a few reasons that this smaller sized temple rates as high as it does. First, the sea of mountains that appears from the temple halls is one reason. The others are the black breadcrumb like rocks that wind their way up and down the mountain, as well as the altar dedicated to Roh Moo Hyun in the main hall, and the two storied hall that houses a massive rock that has an image of the Buddha on it. For all these reason, this temple, while not that well known, is a must see in Gyeongsangnam-do.

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The colourful bell pavilion that you pass on your way to the temple courtyard.
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The view from the temple’s parking lot. A pretty nice welcome.
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The diminutive main hall at Maneosa Temple.
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Siddhartha Gautama fleeing his princely life. This is just one of the murals in the Palsang-do set.
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The beautifully designed main hall. To the left is the main altar triad. In the centre is the green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal. And to the far right is the elaborate guardian painting.
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This statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) sits to the left of the main altar.
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The painting of Gwanseeum-bosal with a picture of former Korean president Roh Moo Hyun to the bottom left.
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A nice look up at the Samseong-gak shrine hall with a look over at the masterful stone statue of Amita-bul sculpted into the mountain’s rock face.
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The painting of San shin (The Mountain Spirit) with a fierce looking tiger at his side.
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The picturesque view from the Samseong-gak shrine hall.
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A better look at the beautiful stone statue of Amita-bul with the early morning sun shining through the trees.
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A better look at the face of serenity.
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And just before you descend down the stairs to the altar dedicated to Amita-bul, have a look out on all that Korea’s natural countryside has to offer.
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A look back at the Samseong-gak shrine hall as you make your way down the stone path that leads over to the temple’s most unique hall.
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Finally, a sighting of the two storied shrine hall.
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A look up at the hall with the radiant sun at its back.
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The charming paintings that depict the Shimu-do murals.
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And to my surprise, this massive rock was housed inside of the hall. If you look close enough, you can see the image of the Buddha that appears on the top right side of the boulder.
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I was wondering why this rock was part of the hall’s exterior. But after seeing the interior, it wasn’t hall the difficult to guess why.

Seokgolsa Temple – 석골사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The beautiful waterfall at Seokgolsa Temple

Hello Again Everyone!!

I probably would have never visited Seokgolsa Temple if it weren’t for my in-laws bringing me there in 2007.  And fortunately for me they did, because the temple turned out to be one of the more picturesque temples I’ve visited since moving to  Korea in 2003.

After visiting the grandmother-in-law in Miryang, my in-laws decided to drive around the scenic mountainscape that is Miryang. After driving around for a bit, my mother-in-law asked if I wanted to visit a little known temple in the area. Obviously, my answer was a yes, and the temple turned out to be Seokgolsa Temple (석골사).

Seokgolsa Temple is a smaller sized temple along one of the mountain ranges in Miryang. As you approach the temple, the first thing you’ll notice is a beautiful flowing waterfall. As you near the ascent towards the temple, you’ll first see the large pool collecting the water from the waterfall. This waterfall is a lot more picturesque than the one at Hongnyongsa Temple. Up the rocky trail, and across a well-worn granite bridge, you’ll come across the stone stairway that leads up to the temple compound. The temple itself consists of no more than 5 buildings: the main hall, shrine hall, dormitory, and prayer halls.  Adorning the main hall are some uniquely illustrated paintings of the Buddha’s life. The temple compound itself is surrounded by a mature bamboo forest. So as nice as these handful of temple buildings are, it’s the scenery at Seokgolsa Temple that makes it such a beautiful temple.

HOW TO GET THERE:  To get to Seokgolsa Temple…well…your guess is as good as mine. Other than to say it’s in Miryang, and only accessible by car, this temple is a near mystery to locate. So good luck: and sorry that I couldn’t be more help on this one.

The admission to the temple is free.


OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10. As was previously mentioned, this temple is a little more picturesque than the other waterfall temple, Hongnyongsa Temple, in Yangsan. And for that reason, Seokgolsa Temple garners a slightly higher rating. Adding to the rolling waterfall are the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains from the temple grounds. Also, there is a beautiful bamboo forest that skirts the temple compound. And if the views of nature weren’t enough, the temple buildings themselves are beautifully decorated (both inside and out). So for all these reasons, and if you can find it, Seokgolsa Temple is well worth a visit in the Miryang countryside.

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A view of the beautiful mountains that surround Seokgolsa Temple.
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The bridge that spans the ravine that feeds the beautiful waterfall at the temple.
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The view of the cascades that feed the waterfall at the temple.
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A view from the head of the waterfall down at the pool below.
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The stone stairway that leads up to the temple grounds.
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The main hall at Seokgolsa Temple.
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And the shrine building, dedicated to Sanshin, at Seokgolsa Temple.
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Some of the beautiful paintings on the main hall.  This one illustrates the life of the Buddha.
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The most unique painting at the temple.
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The earthly Buddha dying.
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The Buddha teaching his disciples.
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The Buddha being tempted.
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Two life stages of the Buddha.  On the right is the Buddha escaping from his princely duties.  And on the left is the Buddha starving as he pursues enlightenment.
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And just like the exterior, the interior of the temple buildings are just as beautiful.
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A look at one of the intricately designed guardian painting inside a temple building at Seokgolsa Temple.
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Another altar piece. This one is Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
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The back entrance at the temple with the surrounding bamboo forest.
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One last look at the temple grounds from the temple bridge.
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One last look at the rolling cascades.
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And one last look at the beautiful waterfall at Seokgolsa Temple.

Updated: Pyochungsa Temple – 표충사 (Miryang, Gyeongsangnam-do)

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The main hall and Gwaneum-jeon at Pyochungsa Temple.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Pyochungsa Temple was first founded in 654 A.D. by the great monk, Wonhyo-daesa. After meditating at a neighbouring temple, he saw a group of auspicious clouds glowing iridescently above a bamboo forest. He immediately ordered a temple to be built, which turned out to be Jungnimsa Temple (“Bamboo Forest Temple”). He built this new temple on the very spot that he had witnessed the strange phenomenon. Then in 829 A.D., the temple was renamed; it came to be known as Yeongjeongsa Temple (“Temple of the Eternal Well”), after the third son of King Heungdeok was cured of his fatal illness after drinking local water. And the final name change came, when the temple became known as Pyochungsa Temple. During the Imjin War from 1592-98, 700 Buddhist warrior monks fought famously under the monks Samyeong, Seosan, and Giheo. For these acts of courage and bravery, the temple was renamed Pyochunsa Temple, which means “Award for Loyalty Temple,” in English.

From where the bus first lets you off, you’ll make your way towards the temple next to the neighbouring Sijeon Stream. Past Daewonam Hermitage to your far right, the temple will finally come into view through the trees. Pass under the Suchung-ru Pavilion, where you’ll finally enter the temple grounds. Look around, you’ll notice the Garam-gak shrine hall, which houses a tablet to ward off any evil spirits. A little straighter, but still to the left, you’ll notice the temple’s museum. This museum is worth a visit because it houses National Treasure #75, which is a Bronze Incense Burner. It’s believed to date back to 1177.

A little further along, and up a flight of stairs, you’ll pass through the Sacheonwangmun Gate. Housed inside this gate are four of the most expressive Heavenly Kings that you’ll find in Korea. But having finally passed through this gate, you’ll be standing in the lower courtyard at Pyochungsa Temple. In this area, and of note, is the newly built Manil-ru Pavilion. Behind this pavilion is the Chilseong-gak. It houses an older image of the Seven Stars, as well as seven separate incarnations of Chilseong. It’s also in this courtyard that a three-story Unified Silla (668-935 A.D.) pagoda stands 7.7 metres in height.

Up yet another set of stairs, you’ll finally be in the upper courtyard, which also houses the most amount of buildings that visitors can see at the temple. The first building to your left is the Palsang-jeon, which houses a white Buddha and eight paintings from Seokgamoni-bul’s life. Unfortunately, these paintings are just replicas, but they are pretty amazing all the same in their intricacies. To the left of this hall is the Eungjin-jeon. Inside this hall are 16 white statues of the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). Behind these buildings is the Sanshin/Dokseong-gak.

To the right of these two buildings is the beautiful main hall at Pyochungsa Temple. The hall is painted beautifully both inside and out with fierce looking Nathwi protecting the front doors. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, are a triad of large statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul. He’s joined on either side by Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha) and Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). The base to this altar is one of the most beautiful in all of Korea with water-born animals decorating its entire base. On the far left wall is a guardian mural, while on the far right wall is an older looking mural with Amita-bul in the centre.

The two remaining halls at the temple are the Gwaneum-jeon and the Myeongbu-jeon. The Gwaneeum-jeon is situated to the left framed by the towering mountains to the rear of it. The Gwaneeum-jeon is decorated with some masterful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. As for inside this hall, there’s a multi-armed statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) inside. She is backed by an even more elaborate painting of herself that is joined by Yongwang (The Dragon King) to the side. The other building in the same general vicinity is the Myeongbu-jeon. Housed inside this hall is a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Uniquely, Jijang-bosal is larger than the ten accompanying seated statues of the Ten Kings of the Underworld.

There’s an interesting little tale attached to Pyochungsa Temple, as well. There’s a rabbit that takes up residence on the temple grounds. Supposedly, the rabbit is viewed as a monk because it has been there for so long. They call it To-bosal (The Rabbit Monk). And because it wants to be there they believe it’s a monk from a former life, now, living at the temple. While rare to see, you’ll sometimes even see monks bowing to the rabbit. So keep your eyes peeled when visiting Pyochungsa Temple.

Admission to the temple is 3,000 won.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Miryang Intercity Bus Terminal, you can take a bus that directly goes to Pyochungsa Temple. The bus first leaves at 7:35 a.m. and the last bus departs at 20:20. Throughout the day, the bus runs 12 times a day.

OVERALL RATING: 8.5/10. Pyochungsa Temple is beautifully situated along the Yeongnam Alps. There are numerous halls to visit, as well as the highly artistic Saheongwangmun Gate to see. In combination with National Treasure #75, the Bronze Incense Burner, Pyochungsa Temple is a nice little escape away from bigger city trappings.

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Under the Suchung-ru Pavilion and entry to the temple grounds.
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The temple museum to the right.
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A look towards the upper courtyard.
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The Sacheonwangmun Gate.
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A look inside at just one of the Four Heavenly Kings.
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And one of the demons he is trampling under foot.
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The three-tier Unified Silla pagoda.
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A look inside the Eungjin-jeon.
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The Sanshin/Dokseong-gak.
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The rather plain Sanshin mural inside the shaman shrine hall.
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The Daeung-jeon and the Palsang-jeon together.
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A look inside the Palsang-jeon at the main altar.
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The Chilseong-gak to the rear of the main hall.
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A look inside the elaborate Chilseong-gak.
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Inside the main hall.
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One of the main altar paintings.
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Just one of the Shimu-do murals adorning the Gwaneum-jeon at Pyochungsa Temple.
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A look at Gwanseeum-bosal inside the Gwaneum-jeon.
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A peek inside the Myeongbu-jeon.
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Finally, a look at To-Bosal (The Rabbit Monk) sitting beside the bell tower just after the monk had bowed to it.