Located along the hillside of a stunningly beautiful valley of Chiaksan National Park in South Korea’s Gangwon-do Province is the Buddhist temple Guryongsa:
A monk by the name of Ui Sang built the temple in 668 during the reign of the Shilla Dynasty in Korea. The name Guryongsa (Nine Dragons Temple) comes from a story that the temple was built over a lake where nine dragons lived. The lake may no longer be there, but a cascading creek of incredibly clean water is that run parrallel to the trail all the way to the temple:
As I neared the temple its connection to the dragons of Korean folklore became more apparent as I crossed over a bridge ornately decorated with dragons:
Shortly after crossing the bridge the entrance to Guryongsa, the Sacheonwangmoon Gate came into view:
This entrance to the temple is very familiar to other Buddhist temple entrances I had seen in Korea. As I neared Guryongsa some of the living quarters for the monks began to come into view:
It is in these buildings that people conducting the increasingly popular temple stays in Korea stay at while visiting the temple. The Guryongsa Temple offers Yoga practice, learning the traditional Korean paper arts, tea ceremony, and dyeing with the natural materials during their temple stays.
Unfortunately as I neared the temple I was only able to view the outer buildings of Guryongsa because a massive renovation project was going on to repair damage from a fire that struck the temple:
Pretty much the only thing I was able to see at the actual temple site was a few Buddhist statues that stood in front of the temple:
Here is a large gate that stands at the bottom of the hill from the temple that houses four Buddhist deities that are regularly found in most temples in Korea:
Getting to Guryongsa from Wonju is actually quite easy with buses regularly running from Wonju to the National Park along with being within easy taxi distance from the city as well since it is only 20 kilometers away:
Admission Fees -Individual: Age 19 or over : 3,200 won / Age 13~18/Military : 1,300 won / Age 12 or under : 700 won
-Group: Age 19 or over : 3,000 won / Age 13~18 : 1,100 won / Age 12 or under : 550 won
* 30 people and more are considered as a group.
* Mt.Chiaksan admission fee is included.
Local Transportation By Express Bus: One hour and 40 minute ride from Seoul Gangnam Express Bus Terminal to Weonju Express Bus Terminal. From Wonju Train Station or Intercity Bus Terminal, take Bus No.41 to Guryongsa Temple Entrance (40 minute ride). You are to more than 10 minutes to arrive at Guryongsa Temple. From Wonju Train Station or Intercity Bus Terminal, taxi take 30 minutes.
Once at the trail head it is only about a 30-45 minute walk to reach temple and a visit to this temple can easily combined with a walk up to the summit of Chiaksan’s highest point, Birobong Peak, which is where I was heading next.
Next Posting: Hiking to Birobong Peak