Saturday, March 23, 2013

Asian Eyes' Korea - Sinheungsa Temple

Sinheungsa Temple as seen
from the cable car on our
way up Ulsanbawi Peak
         Day 5, 21/Nov/2012, 11.30 am: After the tour of Tongil Daebul, we continue down the path to the next attraction down the road, The Sinheungsa Temple, which we saw from the cable car cabin some two three hours ago. This temple is still being use today. Buddhist monks came in and out, and chant their prayers throughout the day. The chanting can be heard resonating throughout the temple, the valley and even up to the cable car up Ulsanbawi that we rode earlier. At the entrance there is a man-made drinking fountain with natural water from the mountain spring. The water was crystal clear, cool and refreshing. We had our fill of water there and even fill up our bottles to take to away. The only issue I noted in drinking the water from that fountain, is as in any fountain, the coins thrown in by visitors. The silver or bronze metal will corrode in H2O, like it or not. I hope the temple management sees the light of this and put up a donation box to collect donations instead of the fountain turns to well wisher dumping ground.
             The temple management had put up a couple of informative signboard in the vicinity, explaining the origin and the use of the buildings. Sinheungsa Temple is situated on the slopes of Seoraksan in Sokcho, Gangwon Province, South Korea. It is located inside Seoraksan National Park, and many tourists hiking Seoraksan up to Ulsanbawi (peak) pass by the temple on the way. Historical accounts vary as to whether this ancient Zen (Seon) temple was first constructed by Jajang in 653, first called Hyangseongsa (Temple of Zen Buddhism), or in 637 following his return from Tang China. It burned to the ground in 699, was rebuilt in 710, burned again in 1645 and was rebuilt in 1648 at its present location by Uisang. This temple is believed to be the oldest Zen (Seon) temple in the world.
          We took some time in visiting the many buildings in the temple, and shot some pictures for memory. Here are the pictures I took at Sinheungsa Temple:
Location: 1137, Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea 
The bridge the link Big Buddha to Sinheungsa Temple, built over a creek. The creek was nearly dry as it was winter time and had less rainfall.
Sinheungsa Temple is built like a fortress and had only a few enter/exit points. To enter Sinheungsa Temple we have to go through this gateway opening immediately after we cross the bridge.
Door gods - these are gods that guard entrance door, typically being portrayed in fierce image to scare away devilish beings.
A monk entering a building to start his morning chanting routine.
Spacious compound in the center of the temple surrounded by buildings. The structure in white at the center doubled as heater in the winter. 
One for the family album in front of the main building in Sinheungsa Temple
Funny caricature of cartoon monk added character to this otherwise religious building. It showed the way to toilet. I must commend that toilet facility is aplenty in Korea.
Intricate design adorn the temple buildings, quite similar to those in Gyeongbukgong Palace that we visited  the second day we arrived in Korea.
Big M scoop up water from the drinking fountain before he gulped it. "Hmm, very cold and refreshing", he commented afterwards.
Note the coins in the fountain - Yuck! Big M rolled up his sleeve and tried to grab a few coins. However the water was too cold for him to immerse his hand in the water for long.
Mr. Cheng filled up his water bottle with the 'blessed' water from Sinheungsa Temple. "Good luck Mr Cheng, in whatever you wish for".
Mummy M with a final picture before we leave the temple.
Colorful leaves wave goodbye to us as we retreated from Sinheungsa Temple. 

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