The Story of…Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju

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A successful climb of Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In total, I think I’ve explored Mt. Namsan, in Gyeongju, four or five times. I’ve explored the north, south, east, and west sides of the mountain; and most of them have been highly enjoyable. In fact, I enjoyed exploring Samneung-gol Valley so much that I thought I would explore the south side of the mountain a couple weeks later.

Well, let’s just say that exploring the south side of Mt. Namsan wasn’t as successful as hiking Samneung-gol Valley. Each little adventure isn’t always a success, and the south side of Mt. Namsan on this day was certainly added to that list.

So I took a turn down a country road, where the houses are literally placed right on the road without a curb or a milimetre of room for error. I wasn’t the least bit surprised as I made my way towards my next temple adventure with my map in hand. I’ve been up more remote roads in my travels.

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The view from Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

Then the road gave way, and I was next to a pig far; but the road kept going. Finally, the road gave way once again, and I was on a dirt road (which is putting it nicely). There was grass growing between the ruts in the dirt road with trees jutting out from the neighbouring mountain’s face. I thought, “Okay, any minute I’ll arrive at the temple, and everything will be okay…”

Well, my “okay” turned out to be a truck that was blocking the only lane as the occupants loaded their truck with rocks. I thought, “Okay, what do I do now?” One foot off the grassy road on either side would land me in a rice paddy. I didn’t want to do a U-turn into the unknown. So I decided to reverse my car back from where I came. In the process, I was giving up on seeing the temple that I thought once lay up the road. But at this point, as I switched into reverse, I’m pretty sure no temple ever existed up the road I was attempting to explore.

With tree branches whipping off my window with a twang, and my parking sensor beeping every two seconds warning me about any and all potential rocks, weeds and mountains, I made my way slowly back to the pig farm. Finally arriving, in what I hoped was in one piece, I got out to take a look at the damage. I had to get down on all fours to pick out the grass from both my front and back bumper, and I also had to bend my driver’s side mirror back into place. Not the best of situations, but it could have been a lot worse, too.

The lengths I sometimes go to to see the next amazing temple or hermitage in Korea.

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The stony face of Mt. Namsan on a more successful day.

Mangwolsa Temple – 망월사 (Gyeongju)

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The temple buildings to the right of the main hall at Mangwolsa Temple in Gyeongju on Mt. Namsan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Just to the right of Sambulsa Temple, and standing at the Mt. Namsan parking lot, you’ll notice a temple a mere minute to the right. This temple is Mangwolsa Temple. And you can see it over the four foot high wall that separates it from the rest of the world.

As you approach, you’ll pass through a beautiful gate with fierce looking guardians painted on the doors that protect the temple from evil spirits. Passing through the temple gate, you’ll instantly notice the monks’ facilities to the left and the dorms to the right. These long structures frame the main hall that lies in the middle.

The exterior walls of the main hall are adorned with Shimu-do murals. The monk that’s portrayed in this collection is more Asian than most. As for the interior, 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 Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the left, and still on the main altar, is a mural for Wonhyo-daesa. And a bit further to the left is a shrine for the dead. To the right, and next to the main altar, is an older looking guardian mural.

Adjacent, and to the right, is a beautiful pagoda that sits in the elevated centre of a lily pond. The pagoda is simple in design, but it accents the colourful beauty of the pink water lilies when they are in full bloom.

Behind this pond, and situated on the second tier of the temple grounds, are two additional halls. The larger one to the left is the Samseong-gak shaman shrine. The exterior walls are adorned with paintings of the Shinseon (The Daoist Immortals). As for the interior, and sitting in the centre of a collection of three paintings, was a rather standard Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. To the right of this mural is an amazingly descriptive painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Uniquely, and to the left, is what looks to be a painting of Ilgwang-bosal (The Sun Bodhisattva). I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen this triad housed inside a Samseong-gak before.

And to the right of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall is a memorial hall. Inside this small octagonal hall is a black wooden memorial tablet for the dead. To whom and for whom, I’m not all that sure. Potentially, it could be a memorial hall for Wonhyo-daesa, but that’s just a guess on my part.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Mangwolsa Temple, on Mt. Namsan, you’ll first have to get to Gyeongju. Once in Gyeongju, and at the Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch either bus #502 or #504 across from the terminal. Just make sure with the driver that they’re heading in that direction. So simply ask, “Namsan Mangwolsa,” in Korean. You can either take the bus or you can get a taxi to take you. Again, simply say, “Namsan Mangwolsa,” and the driver will do the rest. In total, the trip should cost you about 8,000 won. From where both the bus or the taxi drops you off at the parking lot, the large trail head to Mt. Namsan is straight ahead. Veering to the right at the outdoor bathroom, you’ll see a small trail. Take this trail for 50 metres, and you’ll be standing outside the Mangwolsa Temple gates.


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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. For its originality alone, Mangwolsa Temple gets this sort of rating. From the pagoda water lily pond, to the potential Ilgwang-bosal mural inside the Samseong-gak, to the octagonal memorial hall, this temple is definitely well worth a visit, especially if you’re either visiting Sambulsa Temple or Samneung-gol Valley.

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The trail that leads to Mangwolsa Temple from the neighbouring Sambulsa Temple.

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The gate that leads into the temple courtyard.

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A look up at the main hall at Mangwolsa Temple.

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The exterior walls to the main hall are adorned with these unique looking Shimu-do murals.

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Sitting on the main altar inside the main hall is a statue of Seokgamoni-bul in the centre joined by Munsu-bosal and Bohyun-bosal.

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The guardian mural to the right of the main altar.

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The floating pagoda at Mangwolsa Temple.

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These beautiful water lilies were in full bloom all over the pagoda pond.

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A look at the two buildings on the upper tier of the temple grounds. On the left is the Samseong-gak and to the right is a memorial hall.

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The beautiful Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) painting inside the Samseong-gak.

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He’s joined by the unique painting of what looks to be Ilgwang-bosal (The Sun Bodhisattva).

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The memorial hall.

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The black wooden memorial tablet inside the memorial shrine hall.

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One last look at the temple courtyard before I was off to yet another temple in Gyeongju, and on Mt. Namsan.

The Story of…Chilbulam Hermitage

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The Seven Buddhas of Chilbulam Hermitage.

Hello Again Everyone!!

In yet another installment of The Story Of…, I thought I would next tell you about Chilbulam Hermitage on Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

I had long wanted to visit Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju because it’s littered with an endless amount of Buddhist artifacts like temples, hermitages, shrines, statues, and pagodas. So during the winter vacation of 2013, I decided I would finally explore parts of the historically important mountain. A week earlier, I had explored Samneung Valley on the other side of the mountain. So the following week, I decided I wanted to visit Chilbulam Hermitage and the famed Bodhisattva on the Rock Face above the hermitage.

And while I knew that the hike would be a bit of a strenuous one for me, as the hermitage lies two kilometres up the mountain, near the summit, I never imagined it to be that hard. The first kilometre and a half is rather easy, while the remaining 500 metres is rather strenuous (to put it mildly). Near the end of the hike, I think I might have been taking a break every 100 metres. Fortunately for me, and since it was the dead of winter, there weren’t many other hikers around so I could seem cool and collected when they passed by me.

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The long hike up renders these beautiful views of Gyeongju down below.

Finally cresting the mountain and arriving at Chilbulam Hermitage a bit out of breath and sweating profusely, I was greeted by, “Hello.” At first, I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, since I was only half aware of my surroundings due to exhaustion.

“Hello,” the voice said again, “would you like some tea?”

With the sweetest smile, and the simplest of words, I was able to spot the source of the sentence. From the main hall/nuns’ living quarters, I saw the shaved head of a Czech nun. Talk about surprising. The last thing I expected to hear, let alone see, was a foreigner just like me, especially since the hermitage is rather remote.

At first, I said, “Is it alright if I have a look around the hermitage?”

“Of course, take your time.”

Now, I didn’t say no because I didn’t want tea. I said no because I wanted to stop sweating first. I know, a bit of vanity. So after looking around the beautiful grounds at the seven Buddhas sculptures at the hermitage, I took the nun up on her offer.

So over a couple cups of tea and ddeok (Korean traditional rice cakes), we talked about Korean Buddhism, Korea, and driving in Korea (as she was just starting to drive in Korea).

Unfortunately, our conversation had to come to an end because the morning service was just about to start and the living quarters also act as the main hall at Chilbulam Hermitage. But before I left, she invited me back and wished me well in my exploration of the beautiful Bodhisattva on the Rock Face that overlooks the valley down below, as well as Chilbulam Hermitage.

Fortunately for me, and before I made my way back down the mountain, this meeting cured my weary legs.

Check out here to learn more about Chilbulam Hermitage.

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The Bodhisattva of the Rock Face above Chilbulam Hermitage.

Borisa Temple – 보리사 (Gyeongju)

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The serene statue of Seokgamoni-bul that dates back a thousand years at Borisa Temple in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

When you first approach Borisa Temple up a winding road on the north side of Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju, you’ll first be greeted by the temple’s bell pavilion. The temple itself dates back to the Silla Period (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.) in Korean history.

After passing by the bell pavilion that stands to your left, you’ll enter the temple courtyard. Straight ahead is the large sized main hall at Borisa Temple. The exterior walls are adorned with colourful Palsang-do murals that depict the eight stages of the Buddha’s life. As for the interior, and somewhat similar to the interior of Sujeongsa Temple in Ulsan, but not quite as elaborate, sits a golden main altar. In the centre of the altar sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). He’s clothed in beautiful silks, and he’s joined by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) on the main altar. This triad is backed by a wonderfully elaborate golden high relief sculpture that is well populated under an equally golden canopy. And there are large sized Biseon (Flying Angels) floating around the main altar canopy. To the left of this stunning altar sits Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). In his hands he holds a long staff and golden pearl. Jijang-bosal is also wearing a beautiful golden robe, and he’s backed by a stunning mural of himself in the company of the Ten Kings of the Underworld. To the right of the main altar hangs the vibrant guardian mural, the Shinjung Taenghwa. The rest of the hall is filled with images of the Buddha in various acts of kindness and mercy.

In front of the main hall is a three tier stone pagoda, which is reminiscent of Silla design. And to the right of the main hall is the temple’s administrative building and dorms. To the left of the main hall, and situated under a large red pine, is the beautiful Samseong-gak, which is dedicated to Shaman deities. The exterior walls are wrapped in paintings of the Shinseon (The Daoist Immortals) and a white tiger. As for the interior, there are some impressive impressions of the three most popular shaman deities in Korean Buddhism. In the centre hangs the Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural that is well populated. Uniquely, there are a pair of attendants in a crystal bubble. To the right of this mural is a rather standard painting of Dokseong (The Recluse). And to the left is a pretty standard painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). However, what sets this painting apart are the glowing golden eyes of the tiger that joins Sanshin in the painting.

Finally, and the main reason you’ve probably come to Borisa Temple, is the Silla Period statue of Seokgamoni-bul. The statue is known as The Seated Stone Buddha Statue of Borisa Temple. The statue itself stands two and a half metres in height, and with the lotus pedestal that it sits upon, the entire statue stands an impressive 4.36 metres in height. The face of the Buddha smiles with half-closed eyes. The statue itself is backed by a beautiful floral halo that surrounds the entire statue. And on the back of this halo is the very faint image of Yaksayore-bul (The Medicine Buddha), who holds a medicine bowl in his left hand. You’ll have to look really close to see this image. Overall, this statue is really well preserved considering it’s believed to date back to the latter half of the Unified Silla Period (668 A.D to 935 A.D.).

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Borisa Temple, you’ll first have to get to Gyeongju. Once you arrive at the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, you can get a taxi from just outside the terminal to the temple. Because the temple is relatively close to the bus terminal, the ride should only cost you about 8,000 won (give or take).

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OVERALL RATING: 8/10. The main highlight to this temple is the Unified Silla Period statue of Seokgamoni-bul with its serene smile and stunning features; however, this isn’t the only highlight to this temple. The main hall, with its golden canopy and triad of golden statues, is yet another beautiful highlight at this ancient temple. Add into the mix the fierce golden eyes of the tiger that keeps Sanshin company inside the Samseong-gak, and you have yet another great reason to visit the religious Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

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The winding road that leads up to the bell pavilion at Borisa Temple.
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The large main hall at the temple.
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And to the left of the main hall is the ancient statue of Seokgamoni-bul and the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.
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A closer look around the main hall reveals a set of Palsang-do murals.
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A look inside the main hall reveals this beautiful golden altar.
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To the left of the main altar is this statue and painting of Jijang-bosal.
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And to the right of the main altar is this guardian mural.
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The view to the south of the main hall at the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall and the three red pines that keep it company.
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The Chilseong mural inside the Samseong-gak shrine hall.
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And the Sanshin mural with the golden eyed tiger.
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Finally, a look at the ancient, and yet, well preserved, statue of Seokgamoni-bul.
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A closer look at the 1,000+ year old statue of the Historical Buddha.
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And an even closer look at the cracks and crevices of the statue.
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In the shadows of Mt. Namsan, the statue of Seokgamoni-bul looks out over the city of Gyeongju.
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The sites that Seokgamoni-bul stands over at Borisa Temple.
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One more look and then it was time to go.

Samneung Valley on Mt. Namsan Pt.2 – 삼릉골 (Gyeongju)

DSC_1262The view of the Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul from the neighbouring mountainside on Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

This is part two of the extremely impressive Samneung Valley on Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju. And the only reason, which is a first for this blog, that this entry gets two parts is that there truly is so much to talk about. So with that being said, let’s continue with Samneung Valley. The first part, if you’re interested, can be seen here.

After visiting the Two Lined-Carved Buddha Triads, and making your way back to the main trail, you’ll have to walk an additional 180 metres up to the Seated Stone Buddha. Located half-way up the hike, and perched on a mountain plateau, appears a statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) featuring the Touching the Earth mudra. This statue is placed upon a beautiful lotus pedestal. Formally, this striking statue was disfigured with the employment of haphazard cement being placed over the jaw area that had previously been damaged. Fortunately, in 2007 and 2008, this travesty was rectified. And now, the statue was returned to its former grace and serenity. It’s believed that this statue was built either in the 8th or 9th century.

Now, the final 500 metres of the hike are the steepest as you near the summit of the mountain. It’s about at this point that you should take a bit of a rest as you prepare yourself for the hardest part of the trail. But with that being said, it’s also the most beautiful part of the Samneung Valley.

Having rested, and made your way up a steep set of rock stairs, you’ll finally come to the only hermitage along the trail: Sangseonam Hermitage. Sangseonam Hermitage is a recently built hermitage that was built on the foundation of a former ancient Silla temple. When you first climb the zigzagging set of brown wooden stairs, you’ll first be greeted by the nuns’ dorms. Past the dorms, and slightly to the right, is the hermitage’s only hall. Out in front of this main hall, you’ll get a beautiful view of the Samseung Valley below and Badukbawi up above. Stepping inside this extremely compact main hall, perhaps the smallest I’ve ever been in, you’ll be greeted by walls filled with Buddhist paintings. Immediately to your left, as you enter, you’ll see a rather typical Korean Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) painting. Next to this painting is a far more vibrant Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. Sitting on the main altar are a triad of statues centred by Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And he’s joined by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) on one side and Bohyun-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power) on the other. Interestingly, there’s an extremely unique, and extremely feminine, statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right of the triad. To the left of the main altar, and on the same wall, is a mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And to the right, and on the right wall, is the Shinjung Taenghwa (the guardian mural).

To the left of the main hall, and between the nuns’ dorms, is a sign that leads you to the top of the mountain and the Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). During the winter, and unfortunate for me, this area is sectioned off. But fortunate for me, and my long legs, I was able to jump the rope that prevents access to this area. After climbing a small set of stairs, you’ll be welcomed by the large seven metre tall statue of Mireuk-bul. It faces the north with its serene features. As for its body, its right hand is spread to the front, while it’s left hand rests on its seated lap. The body isn’t as masterfully carved as its face, but this is still the crowning achievement to the valley, and it contributes to the mastery of the Silla Dynasty when it was created.

A little further up the mountain, and finally at the peak, you get beautiful views of Gyeongju below and the Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul off to the side. In fact, you can get some of the best pictures of the Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul from these heights.

The final part of this tour of the Samneung Valley is the Sangsaam Rock. Around a bit of a bend in the rocks at the peak is Sangsaam Rock that sits on a bit of a plateau. Sangsaam Rock is a bit gnarly and craggy looking, and it measures a rather large 13 metres in height and 25 metres long. This rock is said to cure love-sickness, as well as granting the wishes of women that want a baby boy. Interestingly, there’s a shrine on the east side of the rock. A stone Buddha, with its head missing, rests beside the altar. It’s less than a metre tall and a lot of the sculpture’s detailing have faded with the passage of time. But what can be seen, however faint, are a pair of hands held towards its chest, as well as monks clothing. In addition to Sangsaam Rock, the views from Badukbawi really are second to none with the jetting rocks, blue sky above, and the west side of Gyeongju down below.

For the Story of Samneung Valley.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Samneung Valley, on Mt. Namsan, you’ll first have to get to Gyeongju. Once in Gyeongju, and at the Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch either bus #502 or #504 across from the terminal. Just make sure with the driver that they’re heading in that direction. So simply ask, “Namsan Samneung-gol,” in Korean. You can either take the bus or you can get a taxi to take you. Again, simply say, “Namsan Samneung-gol,” and the driver will do the rest. In total, the trip should cost you about 8,000 won. From where both the bus or the taxi drops you off, the large trail head opposite the parking lot for Samneung Valley should be obvious.

View Samneung Valley, Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 10/10. Mt. Namsan has earned its nicknamed as the “outdoor museum.” And nowhere is this better suited than with the Samneung Valley and its multiple statues, shrines, and hermitage. In combination, it’s really hard to beat. There’s little else to say about this part of Gyeongju then to say, that unless you’ve visited Mt. Namsan, you really haven’t visited Gyeongju at all.

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The next site along the Samneung Valley is the Seated Stone Buddha.
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A different look at the Seated Stone Buddha.
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And a final, but much closer, look at the beautiful statue.
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A look up at Sangseonam Hermitage as you approach it.
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The main altar inside the main hall at Sangseonam Hermitage with Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) in the centre.
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A look at the unique statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) on the main altar.
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The feminine looking painting of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
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A look down at Sangseonam Hermitage as you continue your climb.
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The next site to greet you is the spectacular Large Seated Statue of Mireuk-bul.
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A closer look at the sculpture.
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And an even closer look at the face of serenity.
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A look down at Gyeongju from Badukbawi.
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A look through the trees from the peak.
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A clear view down at Gyeongju with a gorgeous blue sky up above.
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Along the ridge line of Mt. Namsan is Sangsaam Rock.
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A closer look at the altar at  Sangsaam Rock.
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And one last look before the descent.

Samneung Valley on Mt. Namsan Pt.1 – 삼릉골 (Gyeongju)

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The Headless Mireuk-bul Statue in Samneung Valley on Mt. Namsan in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

I had long wanted to visit Mt. Namsan, in Gyeongju, for many, many years, but for whatever reason never got around to it in ten years. Well, I was finally able to rectify that short-coming when I visited this past week.

The Samneung Valley, which means “Three Tombs’ Valley,” in English, is situated on the western side of Mt. Namsan. From the parking lot (which has bathroom and a visitors’ centre with maps), to the top, it’s about 1.5 kilometres, and it takes about an hour to travel. During this time, you’ll see plenty of shrines, statues, and even a hermitage, along the way. The trail starts off rather easy, and it gets more and more steep as you near the summit.

The first thing you’ll see along the way, and just 250 metres in, are three burial mounds for which the valley gets its name: Samneung Valley. Slightly to the right, and a little off the trail, you’ll see the three burial mounds fenced off through a forest of red pines. The first mound of the three houses the earthly remains of King Adalla (r. 154 A.D. to 184 A.D.) during the Silla Kingdom. During his reign, Silla continued to expand. The second burial mound belongs to King Sindeok, who reigned from 912 A.D. to 917 A.D. King Sindeok, during his reign, was constantly at war with his western neighbours. In addition, King Sindeok’s burial mound is the largest of the three with a circumference of 61 metres and a height of 5.8 metres. The final burial mound is that of King Gyeongmyeong (r. 917 A.D. to 924 A.D.), and he was the third last king of the Silla Kingdom.

Continuing up the trail, which includes a wooden boardwalk in part, and you’ll next come to the Headless Mireuk-bul Statue. From the tombs to the statue, it takes about 15 minutes, or 400 metres. This statue use to be buried in the valley, but was later placed in its present location. It stands 1.6 metres tall and is missing both its head and hands. The most impressive feature about this statue are the finely sculpted details of the monks’ clothes that he’s wearing. This statue is datable to the Unified Silla Period.

Next to this statue, and up the mountain to the left, is the Gwanseeum-bosal Image on a Rock Face. Only 50 metres away from the Headless Mireuk-bul Statue, it’s hard to miss. This image stands 1.55 metres tall and is slightly elevated off the ground. The right hand of Gwanseeum-bosal is raised, while the left is holding a bottle. And on her head, she wears a beautiful crown. What is most interesting about this statue, and through the natural colours of the stone that it’s carved from, is that its mouth is coloured red. While it isn’t exactly known when this sculpture was carved, it’s estimated to be from the Unified Silla Period.

Getting back to the main trail, and walking up it an additional 200 metres, you’ll next come to the Two Lined-Carved Buddha Triads. The triad to the left, and the one you’ll first see when you first arrive at these carvings, is four metres tall and wide. The central figure is standing on a lotus base with his right hand raised, while his left hand is placed over his stomach. The two accompanying Bodhisattvas are kneeling, appearing as though they serve the central Buddha. It appears as though these two Bodhisattva statues are holding up flowers to the Buddha. And the statue to the right is slightly larger than the one to the left with the dimensions of four metres tall and seven metres wide; however, this triad doesn’t seem to have weathered the passage of time quite as well. The central Buddha image appears to be Amita-bul based on his mudra, and he is surrounded by a halo of light, as he sits on a lotus. The two accompanying Bodhisattvas, which appear to be Gwanseeum-bosal and Daesaeji-bosal, stand firmly by Amita-bul’s side.

The second part of Samneung Valley on Mt. Namsan will appear next week.

For the Story of Samneung Valley.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Samneung Valley, on Mt. Namsan, you’ll first have to get to Gyeongju. Once in Gyeongju, and at the Intercity Bus Terminal, you can catch either bus #502 or #504 across from the terminal. Just make sure with the driver that they’re heading in that direction. So simply ask, “Namsan Samneung-gol,” in Korean. You can either take the bus or you can get a taxi to take you. Again, simply say, “Namsan Samneung-gol,” and the driver will do the rest. In total, the trip should cost you about 8,000 won. From where both the bus or the taxi drops you off, the large trail head opposite the parking lot for Samneung Valley should be obvious.

View Samneung Valley, Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju in a larger map

OVERALL RATING: 10/10. Mt. Namsan has earned its nicknamed as the “outdoor museum.” And nowhere is this better suited than with the Samneung Valley and its multiple statues, shrines, and hermitage. In combination, it’s really hard to beat. There’s little else to say about this part of Gyeongju then to say, that unless you’ve visited Mt. Namsan, you really haven’t visited Gyeongju at all.

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The view from the parking lot at Samneung Valley up at Mt. Namsan.
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A look at the three tombs at the trail head for which the valley gets its name: Samneung-gol.
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And a look through a pair of twisted pines before I was off again on my hike through the valley.
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And for a small portion of the hike, you even get a bit of a boardwalk.
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The second site up the trail is the Headless Mireuk-bul Statue.
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Whether it was damaged by the Japanese or Korean Neo-Confucianists is unclear.
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To the left of the Headless Mireuk-bul Statue is this Gwanseeum-bosal Image on a Rock Face.
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A better look at Gwanseeum-bosal with a bottle in her left hand and her right hand held towards her chest.
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A closer look at the pink lipped Bodhisattva.
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The fourth site along this trail are these pair of rocks that display the Two Lined-Carved Buddha Triads. This can be a bit hard to see, but with a bit better look, you can see the masterful sculptures.
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A look to the left reveals a standing Buddha with a pair of Bodhisattvas at his side.
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A closer look at one of the flower offering Bodhisattvas. To the left of his head you can see his arms and the flowers he is offering.
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The triad of carvings to the right. In the centre is a seated Amita-bul with a pair of standing Bodhisattvas at his side.
DSC_1140A closer look at Amita-bul that sits in the centre of the triad to the right.

Video: Chilbulam Hermitage

Hello Again Everyone!!

The amazingly beautiful Chilbulam Hermitage in Gyeongju on Mt. Namsan. Not only does it have picturesque views, but it also houses to two cultural heritage properties that date back to the 8th century. The first are the Seven Buddhas on a Rock Face, while the other is the sculpture of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) that’s carved on the face of Mt. Namsan on a narrow ledge.