Songgwangsa is one of Korea’s best known temples and definitely a “must see” when you are interested in Korean Buddhism. This temple of “the Spreading Pines” is located in Suncheon at the west side of Mount Jogye-san (Jogyesan national Park in Jeollanam-do). It can be easily reached within a 50 minutes bustrip leaving from Gwangju city bus terminal.
The sceneries on the way to the temple are very beautiful making the trip very rewarding !
Songgwangsa is one of the oldest Zen temples in Korea and a very interesting temple to visit since it is one of the 3 Jewel temples of the Jogye order. “Buddha, Dharma & Sangha” are called the 3 jewel treasures in Korean Buddhism. Each of them is related to one of the 3 Jewel Temples.
TONGDOSA contains relics of the Buddha, while HAEINSA is the home of the Tripitaka Koreana which is Dharma. SONGGWANSA is the “Sangha Jewel Temple” of Korean monastic community. Eventhough it is the smallest in size it is considered as the greatest of the 3 Jewel temples.
In the past it was the residence of many famous Korean monks and these days there is a popular International Zen Centre where foreigners can experience daily temple life.
There are different legends about the origin of Songgwangsa, but it is sure that the temple was established by the famous Zen Master Chinul (1170), whose meditation techniques greatly contributed to the comtemporary Zen practice in Korea.
Songgwangsa has three national treasures. One of them is the Bisari Gusi, a large rice container made of a large tree and big enough to feed 4000 monks at a time.
It is also the temple where Buddhist monks from all over the country come to participate at the yearly kyol-che, a three months during winter and summer retreat of intensive meditation.
I had the opportunity to visit Songgwangsa two times so far. During my first visit in springtime 2000 the temple made a great impression on me, so I decided to visit it again in autumn 2013. Songgwangsa has a unique beauty, the road to the temple is beautifully decorated with huge pine trees and a stream runs in front of the temple wall.
The stone bridge with its unique architectural arch is one of the most beautiful spots of the temple complex and is a beloved place for photographers, especially in autumn.
To me Songgwangsa is one of the best places to escape from the busy city live and … a place you don ’t want to leave … my cousin took his time there to write down his Korea memories …
Look here for more pictures of Songgwangsa : FLICKR/K-mood