Daejeoksa Temple – 대적사 (Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

Daejeoksa Temple in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Temple History

Daejeoksa Temple is located in northern Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do to the west of Mt. Ansan (501.7 m). Daejeoksa Temple was first founded in 876 A.D. by the monk Bojo Chejing (804-880 A.D.), who shouldn’t be confused with the more famous Bojo-guksa (1158-1210). The temple was later rebuilt by the monk Boyang during the early part of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). Daejeoksa Temple would eventually be destroyed by fire during the Imjin War (1592-98) in 1592. The temple was extensively repaired by the monk Seonghae in 1689. The temple would be repaired, again, in 1754 and 1939. And more recently, and starting in the 1970s, Daejeoksa Temple has undergone repairs up to the present-day.

Daejeoksa Temple is home to one Korean Treasure, which is the Geukrak-jeon Hall. The Geukrak-jeon Hall is Korean Treasure #836.

Temple Layout

You first make your way up to Daejeoksa Temple to the left of the Cheondgo Wine Tunnel. On the road that leads up to the temple, there is a stupa that houses the earthly remains of the monk Pungam, which was erected in 1752. And to the left of this stupa, and up a sidewinding side street, is Daejeoksa Temple.

From the temple parking lot, you’ll make your way up a set of wide stone stairs to get to the main temple courtyard. You’ll pass through an entry gate with a pair of intimidating images of Narayeon Geumgang and Miljeok Geumgang (Heng and Ha) on the entry doors. Stepping through this gate, you’ll finally enter the main temple courtyard with the monks’ dorms to your right and the historic Geukrak-jeon Hall straight ahead of you.

The exterior walls to the Geukrak-jeon Hall are adorned in simple dancheong colours. There are a pair of folkish-looking dragons near the signboard of the main hall entryway. It’s believed that the Geukrak-jeon Hall was first built in 1754. The Geukrak-jeon Hall is meant to symbolize the Western Paradise. On the front section of the stone base, you’ll find engraved images of lotus flowers, peonies, as well as tortoise designs. Also on either side of the base are sculpted images of dragons. The stone stairs leading up to the Geukrak-jeon Hall are believed to date back to 1676 and are adorned with lotus flowers and dragons.

Stepping inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall, you’ll notice a triad of statues on the main altar. Sitting in the centre is an image of Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise), who is joined on either side by Gwanseeum-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Daesaeji-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom and Power for Amita-bul). A painting of Chilseong (The Seven Stars) hangs to the right of the main altar. As for the rest of the interior of the Geukrak-jeon Hall, the interior walls are adorned in murals dedicated to the Shinseon (Taoist Immortals), Nahan (The Historical Disciples), Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife), the Bodhidharma and Dazu Huike, and Bicheon (Flying Heavenly Deities). A look up towards the ceiling will reveal a compact datjib (canopy), as well as murals of dragons and floral patterns.

To the left of the Geukrak-jeon Hall is the temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to this shrine hall, much like the main hall’s walls, are adorned in simple dancheong colours. Stepping inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall, you’ll find a green-haired statue of Jijang-bosal on the main altar. This statue is backed by a relief dedicated to the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife and the Siwang (The Ten Kings of the Underworld).

The final shrine hall that visitors can explore at Daejeoksa Temple is the Sanshin-gak Hall to the rear of both the Geukrak-jeon Hall and the Myeongbu-jeon Hall. The Sanshin-gak Hall was built in the mid-1990s. The exterior walls to this shaman shrine hall are simple. Stepping inside the Sanshin-gak Hall, you’ll find a rather conventional image of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) being joined by a pair of dongja (attendants) with one carrying a large basket of peaches (a symbol of immortality).

How To Get There

From the Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to take Bus #7 to get to Daejeoksa Temple. You’ll need to take this bus for five stops and get off at the “Songgeum-ri – 송금리 하차” bus stop. The bus ride should last about 25 minutes. From where the bus drops you off, you’ll need to walk about ten minutes, or 700 metres, to get to the temple. The temple is situated to the left of the Cheongdo Wine Tunnel.

And if public transportation isn’t your thing, you can take a taxi from the Cheongdo Intercity Bus Terminal to get to Daejeoksa Temple. The bus ride will take about 15 minutes, over 10 km, and it’ll cost you about 14,000 won (one way).

Overall Rating: 6/10

By far, the main highlight at Daejeoksa Temple is the Geukrak-jeon Hall. The murals painted inside the main hall are stunning. In addition to these murals, you can also enjoy the stone reliefs adorning the foundation and stone stairs leading up to the main hall, as well. And if you look particularly closely, you’ll see a pair of rather oddly sculpted images of dragons near the signboard of the Geukrak-jeon Hall’s entryway. Like I said, the main hall is the focal point of any temple in Korea, but it’s especially the case at Daejeoksa Temple.

The road leading up to the temple.
The gateway and stairs leading up to the main temple courtyard.
An image of Heng. On the other door is Ha. Both are temple guardians.
The Geukrak-jeon Hall at Daejeoksa Temple.
The decorative stairs leading up to the main hall.
A stone relief of a peony adorning the main hall foundation.
The folkish-looking dragon near the signboard of the Geukrak-jeon Hall’s entry.
The main altar inside the Geukrak-jeon Hall.
One of the decorative paintings inside the main hall.
Yet another.
And another of a Bicheon (Flying Heavenly Deity).
A Far East interpretation of the Bodhidharma (right) and Dazu Huike (left).
The ceiling of the Geukrak-jeon Hall.
The Myeongbu-jeon Hall at Daejeoksa Temple.
The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.
The Sanshin-gak Hall to the rear of the temple grounds.
And the painting of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) inside the shaman shrine hall.