Last weekend saw me traveling south, leaving the smog and pollution of Seoul. One of our first stops was Hwaeomsa Temple. Welcome to week 322 (03/30/2017) of Travel Photo Thursday. Located on the slopes of Jirisan Mountain, Hwaeomsa is one of the ten most famous temples in Korea. Join me as I take you on a photo tour.
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I was excited to be visiting Hwaeomsa for the second time. My first visit was many years ago, before I began this blog, chanting, meditating, and bowing with the monks for two days. Those were magical moments, but I was secretly glad that I wouldn’t be woken up at four in the morning this weekend 🙂 Built during the Silla Dynasty (668-935), the temple was burnt to the ground during the 1502 Japanese invasion, and rebuilt during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). Hwaeomsa Temple is also the head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
Since my last visit, a museum chronicling the history of Hwaeomsa has opened, housing a replica of the main temple’s ceiling and numerous ancient paintings and artifacts.
Hwaeomsa Temple Museum
To enter a Korean temple, you must get by numerous ferocious-looking guards. There are four of them striking different poses. This is the first one I have seen that appears to be ready to punch someone out. Those eyes mean business!
The walk to the main temple was bone aching cold and wet. I love the fact that “she” has been allowed to age gracefully. The pagoda in front was built in the fifth century, surviving the 1592 fire. Don’t you love the burst of color to the right?
The temple bell is housed in this traditionally painted building. The bell was silent during our visit, but I did stop for a minute to remember the beautiful haunting sounds from my previous visit.
By the time we walked back through the temple gate and those scary lookin guards my hands were numb, and my feet felt like lumps of wet wood. Imagine my relief when we were invited to have tea with one of the female monks. To sit on the heated floor was bliss. The nun was chatty and happy to introduce us to a Buddhist tea ceremony. She requested that we not take photos, but it was a lovely way to end out visit.
My final photo was of this beautiful pink flowering tree (which is probably in full bloom this week), easily the most photographed in the entire temple compound.
My visit to Hwaeomsa Temple was part of a tour with Goh Travel. If you’re looking for a good basic budget trip, I highly recommend this company. Hwan, the owner, speaks excellent English and is a very good guide.
Have you ever visited a Buddhist temple? Let us know in the comments.
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