South Korea is filled with many beautiful and historical temples that litter the slopes of the many mountains that cover the nation. One of the most historical and most highly visited temples in Korea is Beopjusa Temple located in Korea’s central province of Chungcheongbuk-do:
Here is a map of what the temple compound looks like:
This 1,500 year old temple is located on the slopes of the stunning Songnisan mountain which provides the incredible scenery that surrounds the temple:
Though the temple was first constructed in 553AD it was destroyed during the Hideyoshi invasion of Korea in 1592 and rebuilt again 30 years later. The oldest buildings at Beopchusa date from this time with some buildings dating only from the 1960?s due to expansion of the temple. The temple is a short 3 kilometer walk from the Songnisan tourist village where the trail is surrounded with beautiful scenery:
Once at the temple, I was immediately impressed with the giant Golden Buddha that towers over the surrounding buildings:
This Buddha was first constructed with cement back in the 1960?s and then replaced in 1988 with a bronze Buddha that weighed 150 tons and reached to a height of 33 meters. In 2000 the Buddha was refurbished and its gold colored coating was added. This Buddha is allegedly the tallest standing Buddha in all of Asia. As beautiful as the giant Golden Buddha is, the most impressive site at the building in my opinion is the beautiful Palsang-jeon pagoda in the center of the temple complex:
The Palsang-jeon pagoda is five stories tall and is the only original wooden pagoda left in the country. The pagoda was rebuilt in 1624 after the Hideyoshi invasion and remains in its original form to this day. It is believed that this pagoda may have influenced the construction of famous pagodas in Japan such as the Horyuji pagoda in Nara. The pagoda is built around a lone pillar that rises up the center of the building and has an a Buddhist altar along side of it that surrounds the pillar with 1,000 miniature Buddhas and fine paintings:
The pagoda is really a beautiful building and and an under-appreciated natural treasure for Korea. The temple also has many other old relics such as this gorgeous stone lantern first carved in 720AD:
If you look at the bottom of the pedestal it has two lions holding the lantern which is a extremely rare feature in Korean artwork. The temple has many other old relics such as a giant rice bowl, a lotus cistern, and calligraphy from the Korean King Seonjo (1567-1608) enshrined in one of the buildings.
The temple is filled with many buildings that visitors can wander around and check out:
The monks are extremely friendly at the temple and have no issues with visitors wandering around the buildings and taking pictures:
Besides wandering around the temple I took a short side path to see the below ancient Buddha carved in a solid rock face:
There was also some old Chinese calligraphy on the rock wall as well:
This Buddha was carved in 1007 and is unusual from other carved Buddhas in Korea because the Buddha has both feet flat on the ground where usually Buddha images have the feet of the Buddha folded underneath him.
Overall I found Beopjusa Temple to be one of my favorite temples because of the beautiful buildings, the giant gold Buddha, and the beautiful surrounding scenery:
To easiest way to reach Beopchusa temple from Seoul is to take a direct bus there from the Nambu bus terminal. Tickets cost about 13,000 won. Alternately you take a bus or train to Cheongju and then take a bus from there to the park as well. The fee to get into the temple is cheap, at about 3000 won. Of course the best time to visit is the autumn as the leaves are changing. A spectacular experience to say the least.