4 Top-Rated Korean Buddhist Temples
World travelers looking for out-of-the-ordinary adventures in foreign countries may finally find it in Korean Buddhist temples.
In Korea, a stay at the Buddhist temples allows guests to be in unity with nature and become immersed in Buddhist principles, which may include thrice-a-day praying, concentrated meditating, communal eating, and enjoyable tea drinking.
Using Korean terms, these practices are known as Yebul (praying), Chamseon, (meditating), Balwoo Gongyang (eating), and Dahdoh (tea drinking).
The shared effects of temple stays on guests from various or with no religions are peace of mind and the ability to find calm in the fast-paced contemporary world.
An extended stay at the Korean Buddhist temples also allows guests to understand the life of the Buddhist monks better than before and live out some Buddhist practices in the modern world.
Since there are tens of Korean Buddhist temples, then it would be useful to know which ones are highly rated.
Below is a list of some of the most top-rated Korean Buddhist temples.
1. Bulguksa Temple - a World Heritage Site Korean Buddhist Temple
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Historic and Scenic Site No. 1 by the South Korean government, the Bulguksa Temple is a must-visit for travelers who are staying in Korea for either one day or one year.
This Korean Buddhist temple is categorized as the head temple of the Korean Buddhism’s Jogye Order in the northern Gyeongsang province in Korea.
As a head temple, this Korean Buddhist temple exhibits the magnum opus of Buddhist artistry during the Silla Dynasty.
In fact, it houses several national treasures:
- Dabotap and Seokgatap, two stone pagodas located in the main courtyard of the Bulguksa Temple that are considered two separate national treasures
- Yeonhwagyo and Chilbogyo, pair of bridges leading to Anyangmun and Geuknakjeon
- Cheongungyo and Baegungyo, bridges that form part of a stairway leading to the temple
- a sitting bronze Vairocana Buddha statue
- a sitting bronze Amitabha Buddha statue
- a sarira pagoda that resembles a stone lantern
2. Tongdosa Temple - a Korean Buddhist Temple about Buddha's Spirit
Just north of Busan in Yangsan is the Tongdosa Temple, built in 643 to house three holy Buddhist relics that include a bone from Sakyamuni Buddha’s skull, his robe and the bowl he used for begging.
These relics were transported to Korea from Yunjisi, China by the monk Jajang.
Tongdosa Temple is a landmark of Buddhism.
It houses three dozen other temples and 19 related hermitages in its adjacent grounds.
It forms part of the three-pronged Korean treasure temples, which also include Haeinsa Temple and Songgwangsa Temple.
As part of the Korean treasure temples, Tongdosa Temple focuses on Buddha’s spirit.
3. Hwaeomsa Temple - a Korean Buddhist Temple with Four Korean National Treasures
Hwaeomsa Temple is located on the southwestern slopes of Mt. Jirisan in Masan-myeon, Gurye in the province of Jeollanam-do.
It was built in the year 544 by King Jinheung of the Silla Dynasty, burnt down by invaders from a nearby country in the 1590s, and then rebuilt again during the Joseon period.
In Hwaeomsa Temple, people can marvel at four national treasures:
- Gakhwangjeon Hall
- Daeungjon Hall
- world’s tallest stone lantern that stands at 6.4 meters high
- three-story stone pagoda supported by four lions
4. Beomeosa Temple - a Korean Buddhist Temple Known as the Temple of the Nirvana Fish
Legend has it that King Munmu of the Silla Dynasty had been alarmed at the imminent threat of invasion from barbarous groups from a nearby country.
In a dream, a mountain guardian appeared to him and told him to go to a nearby mountain where the gods would reveal to him a way to quell the invaders.
He did as he was told and was finally able to defeat the invaders.
To give thanks to the gods, he commissioned the construction of the Beomeosa Temple.
Located in Busan, the Beomeosa Temple was constructed in 678 at a mountain that has a summit where the water is said to never dry up.
People believe that the waters have magical properties and that a heavenly fish has lived there.
Thus, the Beomeosa Temple is also known as the Temple of the Nirvana Fish.
At Beomeosa Temple, guests can wonder at several national treasures:
- Three Story Stone Pagoda, which has three floors, a base, and a fence
- Daeungjeon, which is the main temple hall
- Iljumun, which is the first gate to the temple and said to symbolize the way towards enlightenment
- Wonhyoam Eastern Pagoda and Wonhyoam Western Pagoda
- a flagpole holder
- a stone lamp
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