A little bit ago, my friend and I traveled to Ulsan and Gyeongju. We visited her family and explored the sights. Gyeongju is famous for being a historic city in Korea, where so many famous historical sights are located, and there is an extensive ‘cultural village’ that takes you back in time. More on that later, because as much as I enjoyed Gyeongju, I was really surprised by Ulsan. Ulsan, to me, isn’t very famous. It is the epicenter of whale hunting in Korea, which I didn’t even know until I got there. But we had a great weekend seeing some famous (and some not so famous) sights with her grandmother and uncle. It was so much fun!
My favorite place was Seoknamsa Temple in Ulsan. Unlike so many of the temples that I have been to in Korea, it was not completely restored and pristine. It was old, and a lot of the time it looked old. I like that in a place.
A bit of history and information about Seoknamsa? Alrighty… Seoknamsa is located in the Gaji mountain range. It was originally built in 824 but completely destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1592. It was rebuilt in 1674. I found out after the fact, that the temple is now inhabited by nuns, rather than monks, and the temple complex houses the earthly remains of the founding monk, Doui.
The temple, like most temples, was located up the side of a mountain. So before getting there, we spent a good bit of time enjoying the nature while following a mountain stream up to the temple.
We had to walk for a while, because when we finally got there, we were almost in the clouds.
This three tiered pagoda is from the Shilla period. It is the centerpiece of the main temple complex, and quite beautiful.
Temple art is just so stunning to me. This temple wasn’t restored to like new. The paint was faded and chipping, but I think it’s just gorgeous. Also, I love the dragon head in the corner of the buildings.
So much artwork to see! Panel paintings, as well as Buddhas just under the eaves.
This is the marker over the earthly remains of the founding monk. From this spot you could see the whole temple complex and Gaji Mountain.
I always love the tiny Buddha statues collected around temples. These were left with various offerings.