Baekdusa Temple – 백두사 (Gijang, Busan)
Hello Again Everyone!!
Baekdusa Temple is located in the eastern part of Busan in Gijang. The temple is situated south-east of Mt. Ilgwangsan (385.3m) in the countryside.
You first approach Baekdusa Temple under a bridge that spans a major highway in Gijang. Once you appear on the other side of the tunnel, you’ll make your way up a paved road until you come to the newer looking Baekdusa Temple.
The first buildings to greet you are a pair of white, two storied buildings that are the temple’s visitors centre and conference hall. Passing by these two buildings to your left, and making your way up towards the upper courtyard, you’ll notice a standing stone statue of Podae-hwasang (Hempen Sack). This statue is joined by an equally stunning stone lantern. Down a grass pathway, and just out in front of the main hall, is the temple’s three story stone pagoda. Uniquely, it’s not situated in the courtyard directly out in front of the main hall, but on a slightly lower grass ledge.
Up a set of stairs, you’ll notice, what looks to be, a brand new, and beautiful, main hall at Baekdusa Temple. The first floor acts as the temple’s kitchen, while the second story is the Daeung-jeon main hall. The exterior walls are adorned with a masterful set of Palsang-do murals. And the signboard that hangs over the main entrance to the prayer hall is one of the more elaborate that I’ve seen in Korea. Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, and sitting on the main altar, is a set of three rather large statues. In the middle rests Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). Strangely, he’s joined on either side by Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul) and Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion). I say strange because these two Bodhisattvas typically join Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise). Hanging on the far right wall is the temple’s Shinjung Taenghwa (guardian mural). And to the left of the main altar is a beautiful, large mural dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife).
To the rear of the main hall is the diminutive Yongwang-dang, which is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). Hanging inside this small hall is a traditional mural of the Dragon King. And rather strangely, and to the right of the Yongwang-dang, is the temple’s bathroom. Not sure if I’ve ever seen a bathroom to the rear of the main hall. Typically, that space is reserved for other shrine halls.
The most unique part of Baekdusa Temple is to the left of the main hall and past the temple’s bell pavilion. As you walk up the incline, you’ll be greeted by two rows, on opposite sides, of ten stone statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas like Jijang-bosal, Yaksayorae-bul (The Medicine Buddha), and Gwanseeum-bosal. Once you pass these life-sized statues, you’ll see the Samseong-gak up a set of stairs. Housed inside this shaman shrine hall are a collection of three paintings. Both the Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) and Chilseong (The Seven Stars) murals are traditional in composition; however, it’s the older looking Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) that stands out with its spotted tiger.
Next to the Samseong-gak is an artificial cave. Out in front of the entrance to the cave is a seated statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). This statue is joined by four other statues. Housed inside the artificial cave are a collection of three statues. Seated in the centre looks to be an image of Mireuk-bul. And this statue is joined on either side by Seokgamoni-bul and Gwanseeum-bosal.
HOW TO GET THERE: From the Ilgwang subway station, stop K124, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to Baekdusa Temple. The taxi ride should cost about 7,000 won and take 16 minutes.
OVERALL RATING: 5/10. There are beautiful paintings all throughout the temple grounds at Baekdusa Temple including the Palsang-do murals that surround the main hall, the murals inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, and the Sanshin mural housed inside the Samseong-gak. Adding to this artistry is the artificial cave and stone statues that guide you towards its entrance.