Sudosa Temple – 수도사 (Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do)


The beautiful pink wild flowers that bring a little natural colour to the right of the San shin-gak at Sudosa Temple in Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Sudosa  Temple in Uiryeong, Gyeongsangnam-do was nothing more than an add-on temple after I visited my first choice:  Ilbungsa  Temple. However, after seeing Sudosa Temple, I’m glad that I decided to visit this temple.

Sudosa  Temple, which means  Training  Path  Temple (the name of the temple will become apparent soon), is an old temple from the Silla Dynasty on the mid-slope of  Mt.  Sindeok. In the rear, rocks called “folding screens” surround the temple. Great Master Wonhyo, with more than 100 disciples, cultivated their Buddhist faith; and hence, why the temple is named Sudosa Temple.

You first make your way up to Sudosa Temple (수도사) down a long road that runs about 1.3 kilometres. Finally, you’ll arrive at your destination at the Sudosa Temple’s parking lot. I know, it sounds strange, but you’ll be parallel to the temple which resides on the other side of the mountain’s slope. It’s from this embankment that you get a serene view of Sudosa Temple.

Sitting in the valley below is a bridge that acts as an alternative route to gain admittance to the temple grounds. However, the easier way is around the bend in the road that spans a tiny creek that trickles under your feet as you make your way over the bridge meant for vehicles. The first buildings to greet you at the temple are the monks’ dorms, the visitors’ centre, and the kitchen.

Once you pass by these auxiliary buildings, you’ll enter into the temple courtyard. To your immediate right is a plainly decorated two-storied conference pavilion. This natural wood looking structure has a set of stairs that passes under the second story and allows you to enter the courtyard in another way. Straight ahead, and once more, is another row of monks’ dorms.

To your immediate left is a pagoda that dates back to the Silla Dynasty. Just from its appearance alone, you can tell that the pagoda has seen its fair share of Korean history. While a bit uneven in parts, the pagoda speaks to Korean craftsmanship and artistry.

Up the embankment, and on the upper tier of the courtyard, is the main hall. Much like the natural wood-looking conference pavilion, the main hall, also known as a Geungnak-jeon hall, is unadorned around its exterior. The most unique aspect to the main hall is its interior; and more specifically, the triad of statues that sit on the main altar. Sitting in the centre of this triad is Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). He is flanked by a long haired Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right, and an equally long-haired Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) to the left. All three of these statues look to be older in their unique design. To the right of this triad is the guardian painting, and to the left is a Jijang-bosal painting. Much like the exterior, the interior has an all natural wood finish to it.

To the right of the main hall, the Geungnak-jeon hall, is the Chilseong-gak shrine hall, which is also the oldest building at the temple. In front of this hall are a couple of crookedly placed stone lanterns that have been shifted by the passing of time, as well as a row of beautiful purple flowers that were fully in bloom. While largely unadorned around its exterior, there are a handful of fading murals near the eaves of the shrine hall. You’ll have to tug hard on the left sided entrance door to gain admittance to the Chilseong-gak. In fact, at first, I thought this hall might be off-limits to visitors. But with a good tug, I was able to enter the low ceilinged shrine hall. Sitting in the centre of this hall is a crookedly hung Chilseong (The Seven Stars) mural. To the left is a simplistic painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King), and to the right is an equally simplistic painting of Dokseong (The Recluse).

The highlight of this temple, by far in my humble opinion, is the San shin-gak, which crowns Sudosa Temple just around the corner from the Chilseong-gak. Up a long set of newly built stairs is a gorgeous San shin painting. San shin (The Mountain Spirit) is joined by three fierce-looking tigers. To the right of the stairs that lead up to the shrine hall are beautiful pink wild flowers. While the temple has resisted colouring its own halls, nature has saw it fit to add a little of its own.

HOW TO GET THERE: Much like Ilbungsa Temple, which is also in Uiryeong, you’ll first have to get to the Uiryeong Inter-City Bus Terminal. And from the bus terminal you’ll have to take a taxi for the 11 kilometre distance. In total, the ride should last you anywhere between 30 to 40 minutes and cost you eight to ten thousand won.

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OVERALL RATING: 6/10. Sudosa Temple has a long and storied history, which is in stark contrast to the neighbouring Ilbungsa Temple. In addition, Sudosa Temple’s beauty is a lot more subtle than that of its neighbour. All the same, there are a few highlights to this temple like the valley bridge and the two-storied conference pavilion. Added to it are the main altar triad statues, the Chilseong-gak building, and the painting and wild flowers in and around the San shin-gak, and you have a good reason to visit Sudosa Temple.

It’s that way to Sudosa Temple.
Sudosa Temple that sits beautifully on the slopes of Mt. Sindeok.
The bridge that spans a creek in the valley below.
The view at the main hall, the Geungnak-jeon, as you pass through the two-storied conference pavilion.
The monk dorms as you first enter the temple grounds from the west.
A better look at the two-storied conference pavilion at the temple.
A better look at the main hall, the Geungnak-jeon.
A look at the ancient pagoda that stands 2.5 metres in height.
To the left is a look at the unique triad of statues that sit on the main altar inside of the main hall with the guardian painting to the right.
And to the left of the triad of main altar piece statues is this Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) mural.
A different look through a door at the main hall out at the two-storied conference pavilion.
To the right of the main hall is this Chilseong-gak shrine hall.
Sitting in the centre of the altar inside the Chilseong-gak is this slightly off-centre Chilseong (The Seven Stars) painting.
And equally off centre are these two stone lanterns just outside of the Chilseong-gak.
While most of the temple buildings are unpainted, the temple was alive with natural colour and beauty.
A nice little look around the corner of the Chilseong-gak as you approach the San shin-gak.
The flowery San shin-gak.
And a look inside of the San shin-gak and the beautiful multi-tigered San shin (The Mountain Spirit) mural.