Bulguksa temple: A heritage site on the South Korea map

Temples of Asia | | November 15, 2010 at 12:05 am


Factually meaning the Temple of the Buddha Land, the Bulguksa temple is a rebuilt shrine of the Buddhist cult adorning the North Gyeongsang region on the South Korea map. Found in 535 AD by the King Pob-hung, the temple even today preserves its actual Silla structural design making its way to the list of UNESCO Heritage Sites. So, a visit to this one is a must on your South Korea travel. The temple is a genuine work of art that still reveals the facts of the golden time of Silla Buddhist art. Today, it is the head temple of the Korean Buddhism’s Jogye Order.

Located at a distance of 4 km from the nearby Seokguram Grotto as per the South Korea map, Bulguksa temple has become one of the top tourist attractions in the nation. However, the real credit goes to its seven National treasures such Blue Cloud Bridge, the historical Seokgatap stone pagoda, and gilded Buddha statues of bronze. To get it highlighted on the South Korea map by the tourists, the government has designated it as the Historic and Scenic Site No. 1. There is no doubt that the name as well as the fame of the Bulguksa temple has taken roots on the map of the South Korea travel.

As per a legend, the king’s wife came here to pray several times for pleading for the welfare of the kingdom. That is why a small wooden temple was made in 535. But, what you see today is the construction by the Prime Minister Kim Daeseong in 751 who knew his last’s birth name – Kim Daeseong. His former life was spent as a well known architect, in which he built the first temple on this site. This hero was a Buddhist disciple who was supposed to live a holy life because of which he was reborn to live a rewarded life of the prime minister for defeating the mankind problems like poverty.

The Bulguksa temple is entered via a bridge as well as a staircase whose total steps are 33, a holy number that indicates 33 steps of enlightenment. Below the stairs, a big arch is a typical mark of the bridges of Silla. I first visited the Cheongungyo also known as the Blue Cloud Bridge or the lower portion that boasts 17 steps, whereas the White Cloud Bridge called as the Baegungyo or the upper portion has 16 steps. Once you cross the stairway, you can see the Purple Mist Gate – Jahamun that culminates at the main hall.

In total, the complex here is adorned with two major courtyards of which one encloses the Hall of Paradise and the other flanks the Shakyamuni Buddha. On my way, I explored all the national treasures in Bulguksa. Daeungjeon as the Hall of Great Enlightenment is the major hall since 681 A.D., which houses the Shakyamuni Buddha. Look at its façade to explore the two pagodas enlisted as the national treasures.

The Seokgatap (#20) and Dabotop (#21), two magnificent pagodas of the 8th century, are symbolic representations of the Buddha’s coexisting meditation as well as detachment. If the former one is simple, the latter is quite complex. Seokgatap also known as the Sakyamuni Pagoda soars 27 feet high with its three conventional Korean-style storeys. Its stone make-up with nominal decorations does not affect its beauty at all. Elegantly flanked by eight lotus stones to indicate the eight such flora of the heaven (mentioned in Lotus Sutra), the pagoda is a house of gems discovered at the time of reconstruction – a sari box, a sutra, a wooden mockup of the Dharani sutra, and silver sutra plates.

Dabotap is recognized as Many Treasure Pagoda rising 34 feet tall. This is the hallmark that is seen on the South Korean 10 coin. Dedicated to Many Treasures Buddha who is a mythical character of the Lotus Sutra predicting a magical funerary tower, the pagoda is very lavishly adorned for indicating the complex universe. The stones are carved and attached without the use of mortar. Check out for a chamber where once an image of Lord Buddha used to reside.

The Meditation Hall also called the Museoljeon – Hall of No Words is just at the rear of the main hall. Its name reveal that only words cannot make one practice the teachings of the lord. At the highest point here is the Gwaneumjeon (Avalokitesvara’s Shrine) where a portrayal of the Avalokitesvara is revered, who is the Bodhisattva of Perfect Compassion. Beneath this, the Birojeon (Vairocana Buddha Hall) is where you will amaze at the one more treasure that is none other than the golden statue of Vairocana. Besides the main zone in the Bulguksa temple grounds,  the Geuknakjeon (Hall of Supreme Bliss) where you can revere the bronze Buddha, another national treasure.

So, when are you planning for your next South Korea travel?

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