Thursday, March 1, 2012

Backpacking Korea: Haedong Yonggungsa Temple in Busan

Our first stop in our day tour around Busan was in Haedong Yunggungsa Temple. From our inn at Seomyeon, we met with my friend's friend to drive us around the the nice places in Busan.

This Buddhist temple is located at the north-eastern portion of Busan lying along the coastal area. Unlike other temples which are located at mountains, this one is at the shore which makes it quite unique. It was built centuries ago during the Goryeo Dynasty and most people come here on New Year's day to view the sun rise.

This is from Korea's Tourism Website describing the temple:
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of Busan. This superb find of a tourist spot and temple offers visitors the rare find of a temple along the shore line. Most temples in Korea are located in the mountains. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was first built in 1376 during the Goryeo Dynasty. During the reign of Uwang, the great Buddhist teacher known as Naong established this temple beside the sea. Haesu Gwaneum Daebul (Seawater Great Goddess Buddha), Daeungjeon Main Sanctuary, Yongwangdang Shrine, Gulbeop Buddhist Sanctum (enclosed in a cave), and a three-story pagoda with four lions can all be seen looking out over the ocean. 

The main sanctuary of the temple was reconstructed in 1970 with careful attention paid to the colors that were traditionally used in such structures. On the right-hand side, inside the a cave, is a uniquely designed Buddhist sanctum, while situated just in front of the main sanctuary is a three-story pagoda with four lions. The four lions are symbolizing joy anger, sadness, and happiness. Other special sites at the temple are the 108 stairs and stone lanterns lining the rocky landscape. After going down the 108 steps, one will be delighted with the beauty of the temple. Midway down the 108 steps one can stop and enjoy the calming sounds of the waves as well view the majestic sunrise. Many people often come to this spot on New Year's Day to make a wish for the new year as they watch the sun come up. April is an especially beautiful time of year with cherry blossoms in full bloom. The birth of Buddha is also celebrated in April (following the lunar calendar) and offers a spectacular night view as the temple area is aglow with electrically lit lanterns.

As we were dropped off the parking lot, we saw statues in the entrance. There are a lot of food stalls along the way for the hungry tourists that comes here. As you walk down the path, you are greeted with the many tourists that visits the area. Most of them are Koreans and Asians. There are only a few Westerners going around the place.

at the entrance

food stalls along the way

As you pass the food stalls you are greeted with large statues of the 12 animals of the zodiac. You can opt to take pictures there or just rest since there are a lot of places to seat there. There are also lots of spots there but only few had English translations so I am not sure what they are for.

the 12 animals of the Zodiac

the park at the entrance

lots of place to rest

a large pagoda

As you go further down the path, you will go down some stairs going to the main temple. It branches out to the viewing deck where you can see the nice view of the sea and temple. It was nice to take pictures there. You can further go down here and go even further to the waters, however, since it was freezing cold (It was winter), I didn't dare touch the waters. It was nice scenic view there and you can see the temple and the shore on the other side. The waters were very blue and I liked how they looked so I took a lot of photos.

main entrance

view on the other side

Buddah at the other side

After a while, we went to temple itself. We went back to the stairs going down until we reached the bridge where people are throwing coins wishing and hoping it will reach the small turtle in the middle of the pond. The water in the pond is frozen solid. After a while, we entered the main temple area.

coastal side of the bridge

frozen pond at the other side of the bridge

The place is big. It has a lot of large statues and even a large golden Buddah. People are paying tribute to most of the statues there. We were just there paying respect even if I am really not sure what each means.

dragon statue with a lot of miniature statues around it

some of the miniature statues around the dragon statue

paying respect or wishing, I'm not really sure

Golden Buddah

structure at the temple

underground cave where you can drink the water from the source

On the end part of the temple, stone stairs that leads to the Goddess of Mercy statue. As you climb up there, you can see the beautiful view of the coast line. We stayed there for a while before going back down and returning to the main entrance. It was such a pretty place and a must see in Busan.

Goddess of Mercy

View of the coast

There is just one thing I am really not sure. Why are there Nazi Symbols around the temple? Can someone leave a comment about it?

Nazi Symbol around (?!)

Here are some info on Haedong Yonggungsa Temple:
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
Operating Hours
04:00 - 19:00
Parking Facilities
Available (cars: 2,000won/ buses: 5,000won)
Admission Fees
Haeundae station (Busan subway line2), exit 7
Take bus 181 and get off at 'Yonggungsa Temple'
Check out its page here.

If ever you're in Busan, South Korea, try to visit this place. It is really nice and pretty and even if I don't understand much of the info around, I still appreciate this place. Add this to your must see place in Korea!


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