Don`t expect to see a Korean temple when you visit Godal-saji (고달사지), since you will be only find temple ruins. Anyway, this site has some great pieces of Korean history. In fact, all that remains at the Godalsa Temple site is designated as National Treasures 6, 7 & 8.
Godal-sa temple is located in Yeoyu, Kyonggido province. The temple was built in 764, under the reign of 35th king of Unified Silla, Gyeongdeok of Silla. According to legend the stonemason named Godal completed the construction of the temple. After completion, he devoted himself to Buddhism and became a monk. Later, he was seated as the great Buddhist monk.
It is said that it was a vast temple complex surrounded with a large village and protected by royal family during Goryeo dynasty. It is destroyed completely after it had been burned to the ground hundreds of years ago.
The only remainings of the temple are the sculptures showing the unique stone trimming technique and workmanship of early Goryeo , around the 10th century. The main attractions are definitely the turtle shaped pedistal (with a dragon’s head) and a 3.4 meters high , octagonal pavilion-shaped Stupa. These sculptures are really awesome and you wonder how people could create such an impressive artefacts more than thousand years ago.
It seems that Godal-sa doesn’t attract many visitors. It’s a quiet and peaceful place. Even though there is no temple you can definitely meet monks here. At the end of our visit we met two monks who even invited us for a cup of nok cha (green tea) under the nice pavilion above the small mountain river.
We exchanged some ideas about Korea and Korean culture. After we said goodbye we left Godal-sa temple site with a wonderful and relaxed feeling.