Once a friend sent me a nice postcard of Woljeong-sa (월정사). It was a winter scenery of Woljeongsa temple beautifully covered with a thick blanket of snow. From that moment I wrote this temple on my “temples to visit” list. However it took me to July 2013 to visit this temple during a family trip in Pyeongchang county, Gangwon province.
The temple was our last destination on a rainy day in the middle of monsoon, the rain season. Around 6 pm, we arrived at this beautiful location on the east slopes of Odae(san) mountain. It had just raining and the mountains were covered with fog, creating a mysterious atmosphere. The temple was easy to reach. Cars were parked on the parking lot nearby the granite bridge that gives immediate access to the temple.
Woljeong-sa is a main temple of the Jogye order, founded in 643, during Shilla dynasty, by a monk called Jajang, who practiced Buddhism in China. It is said that he brought some Sari, relics of the historical Buddha, from China to Korea and that he build a hermitage to house the relics in Odaesan.
Even though the temple is famous for the Sari (relics of Buddha), the best known cultural property is the beautiful 15.2 meters high octogonal 9-story pagoda and the seated Buddha both in front of the Hall of Stillness and Light.
The 9-story octogonal pagoda is a “new style” pagoda from early Goryeo. This style of pagoda can be found at different temples in the northern part of Korea.
During the Korean War in 1950 rebels hide themselves in the temple. Due to its strategic importance the temple was almost completely destroyed. Eventhough the temple was rebuilt many cultural assets and historic data were lost. The temple still contains its original more than 1000 years old entrance gate.
At the moment of our visit we were the only visitors, something which is quite rare when you visit a famous temple like this. But we didn’t mind, we enjoyed the peaceful and mysterious atmosphere. And even though it was not winter time, the temple completely met my expectations !
Look here to see more pictures of Woljeongsa : FLICKR.COM/K-MOOD