Eunhasa Temple – 은하사 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)
Eunhasa Temple, which means “Silver Water Temple” in English, is located in the foothills of Mt. Sineonsan (630.7 m), or “Fish Deity Mountain” in English in Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do. And the reason that Eunhasa Temple has this name is that Mt. Sineonsan used to be called Mt. Eunhasan. According to a legend, Eunhasa Temple dates back to the reign of King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya (?-199 A.D.), when it was built by the monk (and brother to Queen Heo), Jangyu-hwasang. What is more likely, and based upon earthenware found on the temple grounds, is that the temple dates back to the Three Kingdoms of Korea (18 B.C. – 660 A.D.), since Buddhism had yet to be introduced to the Gaya Confederacy (42-562 A.D.) at this time. When the temple was in fact first constructed, it was called Seonimsa Temple. During the Imjin War (1592-1598), and in 1592, the entire temple was destroyed by the invading Japanese. The Daeung-jeon Hall, which is the main hall at Eunhasa Temple, was rebuilt in 1629. Subsequently, Eunhasa Temple has been rebuilt and restored three additional times, including in 1649, 1801, and 2003. And in March, 1989, a forest fire broke out on Mt. Sineosan; fortunately, Eunhasa Temple was spared when very little else on the mountain was.
You first approach Eunhasa Temple up a winding road for about 400 metres, until you come to the temple parking lot. You’ll need to climb an uneven set of large stone stairs to make your way towards the main temple courtyard. Along the way, you’ll pass by a lotus pond with a bronze image of Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) in the centre. Crossing over the fish-designed granite bridge, you’ll pass by a forested pathway to your right. Straight ahead, and up some more uneven stone stairs, you’ll pass through a gate with three doors. Having passed through this gate, you’ll enter into the lower temple courtyard at Eunhasa Temple.
In the lower courtyard, and to your immediate right, is a gift shop and tea house. Straight ahead is another temple parking lot. And to the far left, you’ll find the temple’s administrative office. But what is most memorable about the lower courtyard is the Jong-ru Pavilion that hovers over top of the lower courtyard. It’s doubly impressive with the imposing Mt. Sineosan off in the distance framing the entire temple grounds.
Up even more stairs, you’ll finally enter into the main courtyard at Eunhasa Temple. To your immediate left is the beautiful Jong-ru Pavilion that you were looking up at. The exterior is adorned with unusually designed dragon heads that are perched along the railing of the bell pavilion. And in the centre of the Jong-ru Pavilion is a beautiful Brahma Bell.
Next to the Jong-ru Pavilion, and up the last of the uneven set of stone stairs, is the Myeongbu-jeon Hall. The exterior walls are simply adorned in dancheong; however, the beautiful floral latticework that adorns the front of the shrine hall are exquisitely detailed both in form and colour. Stepping inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, you’ll find a green haired image dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife) on the main altar. And this central image is joined on either side by the Siwang (The Ten Kings of the Underworld). There are also a pair of Vajra Warriors at the entrances to the shrine hall.
Centrally located, and in the upper courtyard, are three more temple halls. The temple shrine hall in the centre is the Daeung-jeon Hall. This rather compact main hall is beautifully adorned both inside and out. The exterior walls are adorned with Buddhist-motif murals. Stepping inside, and rather oddly, you’ll find a large golden statue dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). This is peculiar because the main hall is a Daeung-jeon Hall, which is typically reserved for Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This image of Gwanseeum-bosal is adorned with a beautiful, ornate crown. There are various paintings inside the main hall. And adorning the interior walls are murals dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal and Chilseong (The Seven Stars).
To the left of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the Samseong-gak Hall. One of the exterior walls of this shaman shrine hall is adorned with a life-like painting of a tiger. Stepping inside the Samseong-gak Hall, you’ll find three shaman murals hanging on the main altar. The central image is dedicated to Chilseong, while the images to the right and left are dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). The final mural housed in the Samseong-gak Hall is a painting dedicated to Jangyu-hwasang, the brother of Queen Heo.
And to the right of the Daeung-jeon Hall is the Nahan-jeon Hall. This compact shrine hall is dedicated to the Nahan (The Historical Disciples of the Buddha). Stepping inside the Nahan-jeon Hall, you’ll find an all-white image of Seokgamoni-bul on the main altar, who is joined by sixteen white images of the Nahan.
How To Get There
You can catch Bus #98 from the Gimhae Intercity Bus Terminal, which is next to the Royal Tomb of King Suro subway stop. Take this bus for 4.7 km until you arrive at Inje University. From Inje University you can get to the temple in one of two ways: first, you can either walk the 3 km hike up the hill; or second, you can take a taxi for about 5,000 won (one way).
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
Eunhasa Temple is scenically located beneath the gray granite peaks of Mt. Sineosan. The beautifully adorned Jong-ru Pavilion, the majestic statue of Gwanseeum-bosal inside the main hall, and the shaman murals inside the Samseong-gak Hall are all something to keep an eye out for as is the lotus pond at the entry of Eunhasa Temple. Eunhasa Temple is one of those temples that seamlessly combines nature with temple shrine halls.