Seongheungsa Temple – 성흥사 (Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do)

The beautiful bell tower at Seongheungsa Temple in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Seongheungsa Temple is located in southeastern Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do. It’s scenically located in a valley with a stream that flows the length of it. And beautifully framing Seongheungsa Temple to the north is the towering Mt. Gulamsan, which stands 663.1 metres in height.

You first approach the temple down the long valley with the tranquil stream to your left. Eventually you arrive on the grounds at the terraced temple parking lot. A little further up the paved pathway that leads towards the main temple grounds, you’ll notice a large seven tier stone pagoda to your right. Lined with pink flowers around its base, and fronted by two stone lanterns, the pagoda is well protected on all four corners by stone guardians.

Just a little further up the path, you’ll see that the temple grounds are beautifully backed by the towering mountains to the north. To gain access to the temple grounds, you’ll pass through the Cheonwangmun Gate. Housed inside this temple gate are four statues dedicated to the Four Heavenly Kings. Each appears to be older in age.

Finally standing in the lower temple courtyard, you’ll notice the visitors’ centre to your left and the monks’ dorms to your right. These two buildings are the only buildings at the temple that are unadorned at Seongheungsa Temple.

Up a small flight of stairs, you’ll see the main hall straight ahead of you. Populating the well-manicured main courtyard is an older tree to your left with colourful paper lanterns hanging from its limbs, as well as the two storied bell pavilion to your right. On the first floor of the bell pavilion is a large bronze bell, while the second floor houses a large drum.

Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon main hall, you’ll notice a large guardian mural on the far left wall. And on the far right wall is a painting dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). As for the main altar, you’ll see a triad of seated statues. In the centre rests Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He’s joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Strength and Wisdom for Amita-bul). The exterior walls to the main hall are only adorned with the traditional dancheong colours, and the Daeung-jeon Hall dates back to the late Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

To the left of the main hall is the Nahan-jeon Hall. The exterior walls are adorned with simplistic Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. Stepping inside the Nahan-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues seated on the main altar. In the centre of the three sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). The triad is then joined by two levels of Nahan statues. Seated on the ground, and much larger in size, are the sixteen disciples of the Buddha, while in the upper levels are smaller statues of additional Nahan statues.

And to the right of the main hall rest`s the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. The exterior walls to this hall are beautifully adorned with the most popular shaman deities, as well as a realistic depiction of a tiger on the left rear exterior wall. Stepping inside the Samseong-gak, you’ll first be greeted by a painting and statue of Yongwang (The Dragon King). The next pair of a painting and a statue are dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint), while in the centre of the main altar hangs an elaborate mural of Chilseong (The Seven Stairs). The final pairing is dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). While the painting is rather bland, the realistic features of the statue are something to keep an eye out for.

HOW TO GET THERE: The only real viable option to get to Seongheungsa Temple is by car. So a taxi from the Changwon Intercity Bus Terminal to Seongheungsa Temple takes around 40 minutes, and it’ll cost 28,000 won.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10. While not a huge temple, Seongheungsa Temple has a lot of features to draw a visitor in like the large seven story stone pagoda at the entrance of the temple, as well as the dozens of Nahan statues and the paintings adorning the exterior walls to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

As you first approach the temple grounds with Mt. Gulamsan in the background.

The large seven tier stone pagoda at Seongheungsa Temple.

A closer look at the beautiful pagoda.

The Cheonwangmun Gate at the temple.

A look through the Cheonwangmun Gate towards the main hall at Seongheungsa Temple.

One of the four Heavenly Kings inside the gate.

The Daeung-jeon main hall at Seongheungsa Temple.

Some decorative paper lanterns hanging from a temple tree.

A monk performing the morning ritual inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.

To the left of the main hall is the Nahan-jeon Hall.

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

The view from behind the Nahan-jeon Hall.

The main altar inside the Nahan-jeon Hall with Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha) seated in the centre.

The rows of Nahan statues inside the Nahan-jeon Hall.

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

The Sanshin mural that adorns one of the exterior walls to the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.

The statue of Yongwang that fronts the painting of the Dragon King.

The statue and painting of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

And the view from the Samseong-gak shrine hall out towards the temple’s bell pavilion.