Yeongheungsa Temple – 영흥사 (Gyeongju)


 The beautiful lotus pond and main hall at Yeongheungsa Temple in Gyeongju.

Hello Again Everyone!!

The next place we visited on Seondosan, because we must have visited eight or nine different temples, shrines, or tombs, was Yeongheungsa Temple. This temple was a bit larger than the two previous, Geumseonsa Temple and Seonwonsa Temple, and like the other two, it certainly didn’t disappoint.

When you first arrive at the temple, the first thing you’ll realize is just how well the grounds at Yeongheungsa Temple are kept. As for a building or a structure, the first thing to welcome you to the temple is a beautifully painted Iljumun Gate. Up the set of stairs that lead to the temple courtyard, and through the Iljumun Gate, you’ll see the monks’ facilities to your right. And to the left is a compact bell pavilion with a large bronze bell. This bell is joined by a Cloud Gong.

Straight ahead lie three temple buildings. The first, and the one in the centre, is the main hall. Out in front are twin four story pagodas. Surrounding the exterior walls are some rather unique murals of the Bodhidharma, King Sejo, and Euiseong-daesa. As for the interior, and sitting on the main altar, is a triad centre by Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). To the left sits Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). And to the right is Locana-bul. To the far left sits a beautiful golden statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). To the far right is an equally beautiful statue of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). And on the right wall hangs a unique guardian mural. It’s unique because there are so few guardians and the figures in the mural seem to be arranged in any order.

To right of the main hall is a large sized Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall. To the left, and still outside this hall, you’ll see a beautiful orange tiger. And to the rear of the hall is a pirate-looking Nahan. As for inside the hall, you’ll be nicely surprised with a painting of a female Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). Strangely, she looks older in age, and she’s not youthful looking. Also, the Dokseong (The Recluse) is joined by a library of books and colourful scrolls.

To the left of the main hall is a tall stone statue of the Buddha. And next to this statue is the Yongwang-dang. Inside this hall, which also acts as the Josa-jeon, is a vibrant painting of Yongwang (The Dragon King) on the main altar. And to the right, and still inside this hall, is a portrait of a deceased monk and a patron of the temple. As for the exterior, it’s beautifully adorned with a set of murals. One is the elaborate painting of an all-white Gwanseeum-bosal. To the rear are two intertwined dragons. And to the left is a green dragon with what looks to be a Nahan on its back.

The only other things at the temple is a budo to the far left, as well as a lotus pond out in front of the Yongwang-dang.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, you can take bus #30 to get to Yeongheungsa Temple. After two stops, you can get off at the Seorabeol University dormitory stop. (서라벌 대학 기숙사). After being dropped off, you’ll need to walk about a kilometre south to get to the temple. There is a large stone sign that reads – 영흥사 – to your right. The temple is directly off the main road.

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OVERALL RATING: 7/10. The most distinct thing about this temple are the paintings, whether they are inside or outside of the temple. The paintings that adorn the exterior walls of the main hall and the Samseong-gak are two definite highlights, as is the female Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak. In combination with the beautiful buildings, this little known temple is a must for those that enjoy temples off the beaten trail.


 The Iljumun Gate at Yeongheungsa Temple.


 The compact bell pavilion that houses a large sized bronze bell.


 The beautiful main hall with the four tier pagodas out in front and the Samseong-gak to the right.


 Inside the main hall sits Birojana-bul in the centre. He’s flanked by Seokgamoni-bul and Locana-bul.


 To the left of the main altar is this shrine dedicated to Jijang-bosal.


 And to the right is this ornate golden statue of Gwanseeum-bosal.


 On the right wall is this rather atypical guardian mural.


 The beautiful tiger that adorns the left side of the Samseong-gak shaman shrine hall.


 The pirate-looking Nahan behind the Samseong-gak.


 The elderly looking female Sanshin inside the Samseong-gak.


 The scholarly Dokseong.


 To the left of the main hall is this Buddha statue and the Yongwang-dang.


 To the left is this beautiful mural on the Yongwang-dang.


 Inside the Yongwang-dang, which also acts as a bit of a Josa-jeon, are these two paintings.


 And to the far left of the Yongwang-dang is this budo, presumably of the monk in the former painting.


 The lotus pond at Yeongheungsa Temple.