Cheongryeonam Hermitage, which means “Blue Lotus Hermitage” in English, is located to the east of the main temple, Namjijangsa Temple, in Dolseong, Daegu. Both the temple and the hermitage are situated to the south of Mt. Choijeongsan (905 m). Like Namjijangsa Temple, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was first constructed in 684 A.D. by the monk Yanggae. Both were built on the behest of King Sinmun of Silla (r. 681-692 A.D.). And like the neighbouring Namjijangsa Temple, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was completely destroyed by the invading Japanese during the Imjin War (1592-1598). In fact, and during the Imjin War, Cheongryeonam Hermitage was used as a training centre for monks that were led by the famed warrior monk Samyeong-daesa (1544-1610). This would help explain why it was destroyed by the Japanese at this time. Cheongryeonam Hermitage was later rebuilt several times over a period starting in 1653 and completed in 1714. In 1806, the hermitage was destroyed, once more, by fire. The current hermitage structures date back to 1808.
Cheongryeonam Hermitage, which shouldn’t be confused with the hermitage of the same name at Beomeosa Temple in Busan, is located some two hundred metres to the east of Namjijangsa Temple through a beautiful lush forest trail. Past a hillside filled with picnic benches, and along the trail, you’ll finally arrive at the outskirts of the hermitage grounds. And the first thing to greet you, as you continue eastward towards the Sammun Gate, is a tall traditional stone fence that marks the boundary of the hermitage’s grounds.
Passing through the squeaky entry gate, which in fact has three entryways, you’ll be welcomed to the hermitage courtyard by an L-shaped main hall, which also acts as the monks’ dorms. The main altar inside the main hall is situated to the left. And the simplistic main altar is centred by a statue of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). And this solitary statue is backed by a red mural inside a glass display case. The red painting consists of another triad centred by Amita-bul, once more, who is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) to the right and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul) to the left.
To the right of the main hall, you’ll find a storage shed. In this area of the hermitage grounds, you’ll also find a biseok (stele). And to the left of the main hall, and just around the corner, is the hermitage’s garden.
To the rear of the main hall, and the true highlight to Cheongryeonam Hermitage, is the unpainted Samseong-gak Hall. This shaman shrine hall is surrounded on all sides by dense shrubbery and hydrangea bushes. On the front side of the Samseong-gak Hall, you’ll find four fading paintings dedicated to guardians. Stepping inside the Samseong-gak Hall, you’ll be greeted by a collection of Korea’s most popular shaman deities. Both the Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) and Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) are vibrant and new. And Sanshin is joined by a large tiger at his side. And the red mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars) is new and vibrant, as well. And these three paintings are joined on the far right wall by an older Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural). Also, and if you look close enough across the low-lying ceiling beam, you’ll find two beautiful, blue dragon murals.
How To Get There
From the Daegu train station, you’ll need to walk about fifteen minutes, or nine hundred and thirty metres, to get to the Chilseong market bus stop. The bus stop is located out in front of an NH Bank. Take the Gachang-2 bus. After fifty stops, or one hour, get off at the Urokri stop. This is the last stop of the bus route. After getting off at this stop, you’ll need to walk 2.7 km, or forty-one minutes, to get to the hermitage. When you finally arrive at Namjijangsa Temple, head right, or to the east, through the temple parking lot. Head up a dirt trail for two hundred metres, until you come to Cheongryeonam Hermitage.
You can take a bus or simply take a taxi from the Daegu train station. The ride takes about 50 minutes and costs 25,000 won (one way).
Overall Rating: 3/10
Cheongryeonam Hermitage is beautifully situated on the southern foot of Mt. Choijeongsan among the twisted red pines. There are only a couple shrine halls to enjoy at Cheongryeonam Hermitage, but the Samseong-gak Hall is definitely the highlight both with its interior wall murals and the paintings of the three shaman deities that hang on the main altar. Another beautiful feature at Cheongryeonam Hermitage is the uniquely named, and designed, Sammun Gate. And in combination with Namjijangsa Temple, a visit to Cheongryeonam Hermitage makes for a beautiful little day trip out into the more rural parts of Daegu.