Beomo-sa … the biggest temple in Busan

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The first weekend of March we had a plan to visit a friend in Yangsan (Gyeongsamnamdo). So on Friday at 5 pm we got on the bus at the Pyeongtaek busterminal.  Five hours later, after a change in Daejeon, we arrived safely and well at the Nopo busterminal in Busan. In Busan it was noticable warmer and during the weekend we even witnessed the first blossoms in Yangsan. Our plan was to go back to Pyeongtaek on monday after lunch. But since Beomosa temple is very close to Nopo terminal we decided to take this opportunity to visit this well renowned temple.
After spending an other night in a motel around Guseo station we woke up early next morning. A first look through the window showed a cloudy sky. Motels in Korea don’t offer breakfast (only tea or mix coffee tea ^.^), so around 9 am we left the motel for a breakfast in the nearby Paris Baguette.
While we had some croissants and an Americano we checked Dale’s Korean temple adventures website in order to find more information how to get there. According the information, we had take the subway to Beomosa station from where you can get easily to the temple. One hour later we left the bakery and we got back on subway line 1 direction Beomosa station, one stop before Nopo terminal.
We followed the underground signs to exit 1. We walked a few meters to the nearby junction where you can see the first signs to Beomosa temple. We walked up the hill in order to get on bus 90. At the bus stop we noticed an old lady who was trying to catch the taxi drivers’ attention. After 10 minutes waiting she made it to stop one taxi. As soon as the taxi stopped she asked us to join her to the temple and so we did.

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Five minutes later we were dropped at the back side of the temple. The old lady thanked us for sharing the bill and she continued her way to one of the temple buildings. We walked downwards to get back to the temple entrance. The nearby parking was full with cars, so we guessed something special was going on.

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Meanwhile the sun had come out and we enjoyed a beautiful blue sky and warm temperatures. Great to start a new week like this, especially on my birthday anniversary.

At the parking lot we had a first glimpse at the Main Hall of the temple. From here we went to the Iljumun, the fist entrance gate, which has a unique design because of its four pillars (normally two). This gate is named ‘One pillar gate’ because when you look from the side it seems that the gate is supported by only 1 pillar.

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In order to go to the courtyard of the temple we had to pass two more gates.  The second gate or Cheonwangmun contains the 4 Heavenly kings or the guards of the 4 cardinal directions of the universe. They are replica’s of the former guards who were burnt down with the gate in 2010.

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Beomo-sa can be translated as ‘the temple where the heavenly fish play’. This refers to  the story of a golden fish from heaven who came to live at the place where the temple was founded. The temple dates back to Shilla dynasty and was constructed in 678 by the famous monk Uisang.

Beomo-sa belongs to the Jogye order and it is one of the biggest templets in Korea.
Like many other Korean temples this place was also burnt down a couple of times, especially during Japanese invasions (1592).  The Main Hall and the Iljumun date back to 1613 when the temple was renovated.

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Also the third gate and the lecture hall are quite new. When we climbed the stairs to the courtyard, we found out that this is completely under renovation.

The Shilla stone lantern, a tangible cultural asset,  was completely wrapped in plastic foil but the tree story pagoda, an other tangible cultural asset, was still visible.

The courtyard is surrounded by some very nice old buildings, a beautiful bell pavillion and a very old hall dedicated to Gwanseum Bosal, the boddhisatva of compassion.

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On the left side of the Daeungjeon or Main Hall, almost hidden behind a huge rock you can see the Chilseongdang, one of the smallest halls containing a painting of the constellation of the Big Dipper (7 stars). As usual we took off our shoes here to bow and make a donation to the temple.

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On the left side of the Chilseongdang there’s a beautiful hall consisting of 3 different sections. The middle entrance is decorated with an arch, which is unusual for Korean temples.
In one of this halls, the Nahan-jeon, you can see 16 of Buddha’s disciples. An other hall, the Palsangdang, displays eight sceneries of Buddha’s life.

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When we looked around we noticed that we were the only remaining visitors. Enjoying the beautiful weather and exploring this peaceful environment almost made us forgetting lunchtime. Since we didn’t bring any snacks or drinks it was time for us to go back. On our way to the parking lot we passed the monks dormitory and a beautiful decorated bell pavilion.

Near the drum pavilion we walked the path downwards to the parking lot. The chilly spring wind blew through the 6 to 8 meters tall bamboo and created some nice frames to capture.

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Almost three hours after our arrival we left the temple complex. We took some pictures of the first blossoms before we followed the long wide staircase back to the bus stop. In the bus we noticed the many restaurants alongside the mountain and it made us actually feeling hungry.

After lunch we took the subway back to Nopo busterminal from where we got back on the bus to Pyeongtaek. It was a rewarding anniversary day with a first glimpse of the new spring blossoms. Beomo-sa is absolutely worth to pay a visit and we will definitely come back here !

For more pictures of Beomo-sa temple look at www.Flickr.com/k-mood

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