The History and Design of the Statue
Officially, this statue is known as the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain – 남산불곡석불좌상, and it’s located on the north-east side of the historic Mt. Namsan (494 m) in Gyeongju. In fact, the name of the valley, which means “Buddha Valley” in English, is named after this statue. This statue is also known as the Bucheogol Halmae, or the “Buddha Valley Grandmother” in English. While little visited, women continue to pray at this shrine to have their wishes come true.
You’ll first approach the one metre tall statue of the Buddha up a trail that leads through a bamboo grove. You’ll need to take this trail for three hundred metres, until you finally come to a clearing. In this clearing, and sitting all-alone among a cascade of strewn boulders, is a serenely seated statue of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This statue is believed to date back to the 7th century, and it’s believed to be the oldest of its kind on Mt. Namsan, which is saying a lot considering the vast amount of Buddhist artifacts, temples, and former temples that remain on the mountain.
As for the design of the historic statue, it appears inside a large rock that’s 1.4 metres in height. The entrance to the rock shrine is arched, and during the early morning hours, when the sun appears in the east, it somewhat shades the eyes of the slightly concealed face of the stone statue. The face of the statue is slightly bent, and its hands are placed inside the sleeves of its monk’s robe. Additionally, the Buddha appears to be wearing a hood that covers its ears. The shape of the face is round, and it has a smile spread across its face. It appears to have slightly swollen eyes, and it has a deep mouth. Overall, it appears to have more feminine features. The clothing of the statue hangs from both shoulders. The clothing has a wave-like pattern.
The one metre tall statue was once located near a temple, but through the passage of time, the temple no longer exists; instead, all that remains of this temple is the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain. The Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain is Korean Treasure #198.
How To Get There
To get to the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain from the Gyeongju Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to hail a taxi. From the bus terminal to the shrine, it’ll take about fifteen minutes, and it’ll cost you about 6,000 won.
Overall Rating: 6/10
This statue is a bit hard to rate just because that’s all there is. With that being said, it’s an amazing little statue. The statue exudes a divine beauty that’s been gracing the Bulgok Valley since the end of the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C. – 935 A.D.). In addition, and if you’re up for it, both Borisa Temple and Bucheobawi are in the same general area as the Rock-Carved Seated Buddha in Bulgok Valley of Namsan Mountain. So get out there and explore lesser known parts of Gyeongju!