Bongeunsa Temple

Trip Start Aug 16, 2013
Trip End Aug 25, 2013

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Seoul is known for being an urban metropolis, not for having grand elaborate temple complexes. I was surprised to find a large temple complex across the road on the north side from the Coex mall, on par with the grand temples of Haeinsa or Bulgoksa in the south of the country. I was really impressed by this temple and didnt know they had places like this in Seoul.

To begin you come thru a giant gate with giant doors. The outsides of the doors are painted with giant figures which you see as you come thru as they open inwards. The inside of the doorways also has a pair of guardians on either side to protect from evil spirts. 

There is then a pathway sloping up which brings you to the temple complex. To enter the actual complex you walk under a building on stilts. The base of the building which would be the roof as you walk under it is coloured with decorative painted tiles. 

This then leads you to a large outdoor chamber with a giant pagoda. Here there were worshippers. There entire area was roped with a ceiling of red coloured lanterns.  

The complex then branches off with buildings on various sides. I went first to the small shrine on the summit at the rear of the complex for a span view looking down over the complex. 

To the right was a larger temple building. The inside had a large buddha shrine at the centre. The roof was decoratively painted and had paper notes hanging from the ceilings. To either side of the main central shrine were also groups of large carved and painted figures. 

Either end of the rectangular room also had a giant wall mural. This continued on the outside where the sides of the building were painted with many different scenes. Many of them were quite interesting. 

At the other end of the complex was a giant outdoor stone figure of a buddha with a cap. This was reminscent of our Donghwasa Temple in Daegu. (see blog entry Donghwasa Temple )

There was also a raised outdoor building with a covered roof. This housed a giant bell and gong and giant hanging painted fish and animals. From watching the buddhist TV channel these are hollowed out and used for tapping. 

Then I headed to the large building I had walked under when I first arrived. From this side you are level with the building and can go inside. This was quite a spectacular surprise. 

One length of the building on one side were filled with many gold buddhas in various sizes. There were rows and rows and reminded me of pictures I had seen of 1000 buddha temples. It actually reminded me of chocolate as often they come in gold wrapping like this.    

There were rows of the small buddhas. A section of the wall would jut out and more buddhas were places all round the three sides of the extension of the wall. In some areas there were giant buddhas in the centre of the rows of smaller buddhas. 

There was also a giant mural at one end of the hall. Many people were kneeling on their prayer mats. They would bow and position themselves in bows to each side and corner of the hall. 

As I was leaving there was another very long building by the car park. From here I could hear drumming noises. Inside was a large group seated in a circle having a drumming class.  


I would really recommend this as a must see temple in Seoul. I'm surprised all the tourist brochures for Seoul barely make any mention of this unique site. You can also do overnight temple stays and run across to the COEX mall across the road when you're done. 

They have a website at 

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