Yongsusa Temple – 용수사 (Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do)

Yongsusa Temple in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

Temple History

Yongsusa Temple is located on the southern slopes of Mt. Yongdusan (664.6 m) in the very northern part of Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do. Yongsusa Temple was first founded in 1181 during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). According to one story, there was a temple in the area before Yongsusa Temple was first built, but all that remained of this site was the foundation after several fires destroyed the former temple. When the governor of the region built Gakhwasa Temple, as well as several other temples on the south side of the old Yongsusa Temple Site in 1146, a monk, who had a close relationship with the royal family, asked for a temple to be built for him to practice Hwaeom. This would be the future Yongsusa Temple.

The temple was later repaired and expanded during the reign of King Seonjo of Joseon (r. 1567-1608), when the Geukrak-jeon Hall was built. In 1895, both Yongsusa Temple and neighbouring Yeongeumam Hermitage were destroyed by fire during fighting with the Japanese military. Later, and in 1994, the temple was rebuilt with the construction of the Daeung-jeon Hall and the Yosache (monks’ dorms).

Temple Layout

To get to Yongsusa Temple, you’ll pass through the slender Iljumun Gate on your way up to the ridge that houses Yongsusa Temple. When you finally do arrive at the temple parking lot, you’ll first notice the compact Jong-ru Pavilion to your left. Inside this compact bell pavilion is a beautiful bronze bell with various images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas adorning it, as well as striking floral patterns.

Slightly to the right, and book-ended by a pair of monks’ dorms, is the Daeung-jeon Hall. The Daeung-jeon Hall is fronted by three marble pagodas that are replicas of famous pagodas in Korea. They are Seokga-tap Pagoda and Dabo-tap Pagoda from Bulguksa Temple, as well as the “Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site” in northern Gyeongju. The exterior walls of the main hall at Yongsusa Temple are filled with Buddhist-related murals like the Four Heavenly Kings, as well as paintings of Birojana-bul (The Buddha of Cosmic Energy). Also, and something to keep an eye out for, is the floral latticework at the front of the main hall.

Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful array of statues and paintings. Resting on the main altar is a seated image of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). This central image is surrounded by a fiery mandorla. Joining this central image on either side are statues of Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). Also housed inside the Daeung-jeon Hall is a modern Shinjung Taenghwa (Guardian Mural).

To the left of the main hall is a small, protected enclosure with a wooden pavilion at the front. Housed under the pavilion is an older stone statue of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha) that is backed by a modern, stone mandorla. And to the far right of the main hall, and up a long set of wooden stairs, is the Sanshin-gak Hall. Inside the shaman shrine hall, you’ll find one of the more interesting images of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit), who is joined by a rather unique image of a tiger. As for the exterior of the Sanshin-gak Hall, you’ll find a tiger looking up ferociously at a taunting tree-top magpie.

How To Get There

From the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal, you’ll need to make your way towards the Kyobolife bus stop, which is a three minute walk from the bus terminal. From this bus stop, you’ll need to take Bus #67 for 42 stop, or for an hour and forty minutes, and get off at the Yongsusa Temple bus stop. From this bus stop, you’ll need to walk 425 metres, or 5 minutes, to get to Yongsusa Temple.

Additionally, if public transportation isn’t your thing, and you don’t have your own mode of transportation, you can take a taxi from the Andong Intercity Bus Terminal. The taxi ride should take about 45 minutes, over 37 km, and it’ll cost you about 50,000 won (one way).

Overall Rating: 6/10

One of the highlights at Yongsusa Temple is the Sanshin (Mountain Spirit) mural housed inside the Sanshin-gak Hall. Other highlights include the three marble replica pagodas, the temple’s bronze bell, as well as the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall. Put together, they make for a nice little trip to a lesser known temple in Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

When you first make your way towards the temple grounds.
The bronze bell at Yongsusa Temple.
The Daeung-jeon Hall and replicas of Seokga-tap Pagoda (right) and the “Thirteen-Story Stone Pagoda at Jeonghyesa-ji Temple Site” (left).
The front floral latticework that adorns the main hall.
Two of the Four Heavenly Kings that adorn one of the exterior walls of the Daeung-jeon Hall.
A look inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The well-worn image of Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha).
The replica of Dabo-tap Pagoda with the Sanshin-gak Hall in the background.
A look back from the replica of Dabo-tap Pagoda.
A look up at the Sanshin-gak Hall.
The image of Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit) inside the shaman shrine hall.
A look down at the temple grounds from the heights of the Sanshin-gak Hall.