• Gyeongju

    Bucheobawi/Okryongam Hermitage – 부처바위/옥룡암 (Gyeongju)

    Shrine and Hermitage History Of the two, Bucheobawi and Okryongam Hermitage, it’s Bucheobawi that you’ve probably traveled all this way to see. Bucheobawi, which means “Buddha Rock,” in English, is located on the northern tip of Mt. Namsan (468m) in Gyeongju. But to get to Bucheobawi, you’ll first need to make your way down a country road, which eventually becomes a trail that runs alongside a stream. About three hundred metres up this trail, you’ll finally come to Okryongam Hermitage. Where the hermitage is presently located was the former site of Sininsa Temple, which was built during Later Silla (668-935 A.D.). Shrine and Hermitage Layout When you first approach Okryongam…

  • Gyeongju

    Girimsa Temple – 기림사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Girimsa Temple, which means “Sacred Forest Temple,” in English, is located in eastern Gyeongju. The name of the temple is a transliteration of one of the two main temples that the Buddha and his disciples were active in during Seokgamoni-bul’s (The Historical Buddha) lifetime: Venuvana and Jetavana. Of the two, it’s Jetavana that Girimsa Temple is named after. The reason that Jetavana was so important is that it’s where the Buddha spent twenty years of his life and taught the majority of his teachings. In fact, of the forty-five vassas (three month retreats), the Buddha stayed at Jetavana for nineteen of them. In Korean, the name for Jetavana…

  • Gyeongju

    Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site – 황룡사지 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site, in central Gyeongju, means “Imperial Dragon Temple Site,” in English. The construction of the massive temple started in 553 A.D., during the reign of King Jinheung (r.540-576 A.D.), and it wasn’t completed until 644 A.D. during the reign of Queen Seondeok (r.632-644 A.D.). The temple stood over seventy acres, or 283,280 m2, in size. There are several legends surrounding this famously historic temple. The first is that King Jinheung planned to build a new palace northeast of the royal palace compound of Banwolseong, or “Half-Moon Palace,” in English. During this construction, a yellow dragon purportedly appeared, which was taken as an auspicious sign. So instead…

  • Gyeongju

    Bunhwangsa Temple – 분황사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Bunhwangsa Temple is located in downtown Gyeongju near Hwangnyongsa-ji Temple Site and Wol-ji Pond. Bunhwangsa Temple means “Fragrant Emperor/Imperial Temple,” in English. Bunhwangsa Temple was first established in 634 A.D. under the auspices of the famed Silla ruler, Queen Seondeok (r.632-647 A.D.). At this time, during Queen Seondeok’s reign, Buddhism was only a century old, having only been adopted by the Silla Kingdom in 527 A.D. by King Beopheung (r.514-540 A.D). Early in its history, Bunhwangsa Temple was a large temple. It consisted of an inner gate, three golden halls, an assembly hall, a gallery, and a stone pagoda (which is the only thing that still remains today…

  • Gyeongju

    Chilbulam Hermitage – 칠불암 (Gyeongju)

    Hermitage History Chilbulam Hermitage, which means “Seven Buddhas Hermitage,” in English, is located on the eastern slopes of the historic Mt. Namsan (495 m) in Gyeongju, which was the ancient capital of Silla (57 B.C. to 935 A.D.). The modern form of the hermitage actually only dates back to the 1930’s, when a nun was hunting for wild mushrooms on this part of Mt. Namsan. It was by mere chance that she stumbled upon a pair of statues that comprise the seven Buddhas statue at Chilbulam Hermitage. These statues were buried in the ground. Upon their discovery, the nun built a hut on the grounds. And in 2009, the present…

  • Gyeongju

    Golgulsa Temple -골굴사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Golgulsa Temple, which means “Bone Cave Temple,” in English, is located in eastern Gyeongju. East of Seokguram Hermitage, and over a mountain pass, you can find Golgulsa Temple to the south of the towering Mt. Hamwolsan (584 m) in a narrow valley. Golgulsa Temple was first built sometime during the 6th century by the monk Gwangyu. Gwangyu came back to Korea from India with some followers and built Golgulsa Temple to emulate the cave temples in India. According to the painter, Jeong Seon (1676 – 1759), pen name Gyeomjae, who painted during the mid Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), he painted Golgulsa Temple with a wooden antechamber in front of…

  • Gyeongju

    Samreung Valley on Mt. Namsan – 삼릉골 (Gyeongju)

    Valley Layout Samreung Valley, on the west side of Mt. Namsan (495.1m) in Gyeongju, means “Three Tombs Valley,” in English. If Gyeongju is considered an outdoor museum then Mt. Namsan, and, more specifically, the Samreung Valley, is an outdoor shrine to Korean Buddhism. From the visitors centre and the parking lot, it’s about a 1.5 kilometre hike to the top of the mountain. Leaving enough time to see everything, which there’s a lot to see, it’ll take anywhere from an hour to two hours to hike. The trail starts off rather easy, and then it gets gradually steeper at the midway point. The first thing you’ll come across during this…

  • Gyeongju

    Seokguram Hermitage – 석굴암 (Gyeongju)

    Hermitage History Seokguram Hermitage on Mt. Tohamsan in Gyeongju houses the most famous statue in all of Korea. In English, Seokguram Hermitage means “Stone Cave Hermitage.” Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1995 alongside Bulguksa Temple, it’s also National Treasure #24. The artificial cave at Seokguram Hermitage was first constructed by Kim Daeseong in 751 A.D. However, it wasn’t completed until after his death in 774 A.D. It’s believed, at least according to the Samguk Yusa (“Legends of the Three Kingdoms,” in English), that Bulguksa Temple at the base of Mt. Tohamsan was built for his parents in his current life and that Seokguram Hermitage…

  • Gyeongju

    Bulguksa Temple – 불국사 (Gyeongju)

    Temple History Without a doubt, Bulguksa Temple in Gyeongju is the most famous Korean Buddhist temple both in Korea and internationally. Bulguksa Temple is located at the western foot of Mt. Tohamsan (745 m) in eastern Gyeongju (the former capital of the Silla Kingdom). Bulguksa Temple means “Buddha Kingdom Temple” in English. The name of Bulguksa Temple can have two possible meanings. The first is that traveling through the architectural landscape is like taking a journey through the spiritual realm of the Buddhas. So in a way, it’s an architectural manifestation of the celestial realm of the Buddhas on earth. And the second meaning is in reference to the Unified…

  • Gyeongju,  Video

    Video: Seokguram Hermitage – 석굴암 (Gyeongju)

    Hello Again Everyone!! Alongside Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram Hermitage is the most internationally recognizable Buddhist site in Korea. And with Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram Hermitage was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Seokguram Hermitage was first built in 774 A.D. And the name of the temple means “Stone Cave Hermitage,” in English. The statue inside the grotto at Seokguram Hermitage is the most beautiful image of the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul, in all of Korea and perhaps Asia. The statue is spell-binding just as soon as you step inside the stone grotto. So follow me, as we explore together, this amazing feat in both artistic and religious excellence in Gyeongju!