Monday, July 8, 2013

Geumsansa Temple

It has been 4 weeks since I visited Geumsansa Temple..... Wow, where has the time gone. I've been super busy preparing for English camp over the summer vacation and doing wedding things with Jihyeon. 

Anyway, Geumsansa (literally translates to "Golden Mountain Temple") is the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. It stands on the slopes of Moaksan in Gimje city. The initial Geumsan temple was built in 599AD during the reign of King Beop of Baekje. About 100 years later the temple was rebuilt and greatly expanded under the direction of the Master Jinpyo

During the first Japanese militry campaign of Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1592, Geumsansa also played a defensive role. The Buddhist volunteer corps (numbering over 1000) used Geumsansa for a training ground. During the second Japanese military campaign, the Buddhist volunteer corps established their headquarters at Geumsansa. Sadly, the entire temple complex was then burnt to the ground by the invading Japanese forces. 

The present buildings were rebuilt in 1635 and the temple currently serves as one of the principle Buddhist centers in the region and is one of the largest temples in South korea. 

You have to park your car a little way down the mountain and walk about 1 or 2 kilometers. On the way up the well paved footpath you will pass a man made waterfall that turns on every 30 minutes. We just happened to be walking past just as it turned on. 

Keep walking up the hill and you will reach a giant gate. 

Here is a map of the temple complex.

Crystal clear water flowing down the side of the road.

Keep walking towards the biggest building you can see. As you walk under it you will enter the courtyard. Unfortunately the temple in the right of the picture below is under going some serious maintenance to ensure it is preserved for many hundreds of years to come. Jihyeon told me it was the most spectacular of all the temples. I might have to come back when the renovations are finished next year.

See the temple in the center of the picture above? The picture below was taken inside the temple. I was happy not to see any "no photo" signs.

This was another smaller temple around the back of the main temple.

Panoramic view looking back at the temple complex. You can see the temple being renovated in the left of the picture.

The stone dragons (left) are meant to sit on top of the turtle (right).

I just had to put my finer in there.

Some fresh spring water coming out of the side of the mountain. You can see the red scoops hanging behind me. These are communal drinking cups. Germs don't bother many Koreans. They are happy to eat from the same plate as other people, or in this case share a cup with a total stranger. I on the other hand.... decided to refill my water bottle ^^.

Some more fresh spring water bubbling up into a pond, and a temple in the background.

This is Taejang Chon (Taejang Hall) (though, according to wikipedia it is called (DaeJangJeon) and National Treasure #827 of Korea and one of the first temples erected on the site in the 600's. Out the front you can see national treasure #828. The stone lantern (Geumsansa Seokdeung), or lamp of enlightenment was used to light the front of the worship hall. It is about 1000 years old. 

Artwork on the roof inside Taejang Hall (aka DaeJangJeon).

They are in the process of re-constructing another temple using a mix of traditional construction techniques and modern tools. 

We then headed back down the mountain to meet up with Jihyeon's parents who were resting by the river which is also a popular swimming hole for the people staying at the campsite. 

Then, we had a picnic lunch of mandu (dumplings) and fruit. 

After all the great food was eaten. We headed home.


  1. I'm struggling to edit an incoherent description of the lantern for the Cultural Properties Agency. Your photo helps somewhat, so thanks. I hope you'rre doing fine wherever you are.

    1. No worries Mike. Happy my photo helped you in some way. We are doing fine and getting ready to move back to Australia.