Monday, August 24, 2009

Buddhist Temple in South Korea - The Bongeun Temple (봉은사)


The Bongeun Temple was founded in 794, though most of the buildings have been renovated and rebuilt several times over the centuries.  It remains one of Korea’s most traditional Buddhist temples.  To reach Bongeunsa you can either take subway line no. 2 upto Samsung station (gate 6), or subway line no.7 to Chungdam station (gate 2).


Thursday temple life program for foreigners is held every Thursday from 2 p.m. till 4 p.m. There is also a temple stay program for which you need to make a reservation. For more information kindly visit the official temple website at and on more information on temple stay Korea-wide you can visit this website at

IMG_9466 This is Jinyeomoon (Jinyeo Gate- 진여문) and it represents eternal reality.  As one enters this gate one is seeking the unchanging truth.  Inside the gate you can find the statues of four devas, Sacheonwang ( 사천왕), or four heavenly kings, who represent protectors of the Buddhist lands, Dharma and its followers.IMG_9597This is the Haesoogwaneumsang (해수관음상) statue.  It represents the Korean traditional Bodhisattva of Compassion. The lotus flower and the pond depict harmony with nature.IMG_9469 Bupwangroo (법왕루). It houses 3.300 private small statues of the Boddhisattva of  Compassion.

IMG_9586 This intricate mural on the ceiling of Bupwangroo, as well as the many elaborate paintings found on the walls and ceilings of the temples represent stories of the Buddhist faith, including the story of the origin of the Bongeun temple.IMG_9482This is in front of Daewoongjeon (대웅전), or the main temple. It is the most important temple of the Bongeunsa and the center of all religious activities.  IMG_9486

I had a tough time catching up with the others and felt dwarfed by the stone steps. IMG_9500People praying at the main temple.IMG_9504Jijangjeon (지장전)  rebuilt after it was burnt down in the spring of 2002.  It was built for Bodhisattva Jijang (지장) who had sworn to save all mankind from pain and hardship by becoming medicinal herbs.IMG_9522Inside of Jijangjeon (지장전), a priest was about ready to start their daily prayers.IMG_9512 Yeongsanjeon (영산전) is located at a height with a magnificent view and aesthetic ambience. The name translates into ‘Eagle Peak Mountain’ and symbolizes a connection with Buddha’s disciples in India.IMG_9531The temple houses a statue of Buddha at the centre flanked on the sides by statues of his disciples Gaseopjonja and Ananjonja.IMG_9547These strings of purses were hung outside Bookgeukbojeon (북극보전). The Mountain Spirit, Big Dipper and the Hermit sage (Naban recluse) are enshrined inside the building.IMG_9553Statue of Mireukdaebul (미륵대불), or Maitreya- the Buddha of the future. Standing at a height of 23 meters this is the tallest statue of Buddha in Korea.  Buddha was born Siddhārtha Gautama around c. 563 BCE in Lumbini, presently in Nepal. He attained enlightenment after meditating under a pipal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India. He passed away at the age of 80 in present day Kushinagar, India. The statue of Maitreya symbolizes hope for Maitreya,or Buddha of the future, to arrive and salvage mankind. IMG_9569   Me and my friends thought we would also try to meditate along with the others but I tell ya it was way too hot to meditate outside.  Hats off to people who withstood the heat to meditate.IMG_9585 Jonggak (종각) Literally means a bell pavilion.IMG_9590JBowoodang (보우당) building was constructed after the October 2000 ASEM (Asia- Europe Meeting) summit meeting. Free medical check ups and free lunch for the homeless and foreign workers are provided here on Sundays.


It was a hot summer day and by the end of the temple tour I was quite exhausted and ready to go home and rest.


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