After the 30-minute hike down from the Grotto, we finally arrived at one of South Korea’s most beautiful temples and also a UNESCO World Heritage site, Bulguksa Temple.
Bulguksa is a large complex of shrines and pagodas built as early as 535 AD and has survived a number of fires and wars. It also houses traditional Buddhist Art during the Silla Kingdom. It is positioned at the slopes of Mt. Tohamsan which is also quite near from Seokguram Hermitage.
Bulguksa is open 7AM until 5:30PM and adult admission is 4,000 Won. To go to Bulguksa, take a Gyeongju Intercity Bus number 10 or 11. Bus ride would take almost 30 minutes – given that there is no traffic. Go on a weekday to avoid the flock of tourists.
Time to explore Bulguksa! Once you pass the main entrance, you’d be able to see a lotus pond for an eye feast. It was absolutely breathtaking and the view was just calming to the senses.
|The lotus pond inside the temple|
It underwent renovations during the Goryeo dynasty and was burned during the Japanese invasion in the 1500s. It was then reconstructed during Joseon dynasty in the 1600s. Finally, it was fully restored under President Park Chung-hee’s reign during the 1960s.
|Entrance to Bulguksa Temple|
These stairways symbolize a person’s path from the worldly desires to the spiritual realm of Buddha. A lot of tourists were taking pictures of these stairs and unfortunately you can’t go up to the main hall using these stairs.
You’d soon enter the main courtyard of Bulguksa that houses two twin pagodas called the ‘Dabotap’ (Pagoda of Many Treasures) and ‘Seokgatap’ (Pagoda of the Historical Buddha) that are also both national treasures. When we arrived, the Seokgatap was being re-constructed, so I was only able to take a picture of Dabotap. The hallway in the courtyard is very pretty too.
There are tons of rock-stackings in Korea, they are especially evident at temples and on hiking trails – definitely there are lots at Bulguksa as well. It is said that rock stacks would make your wishes come true. Most of these symbolizes prayer and wishes for their family's health and wellness.
One could easily spend half a day or even one whole day at Bulguksa – as there lots of spots to take pictures and you’d be tempted to do some self-reflection. The atmosphere is very quiet and serene that I was almost tempted to take a nap because of the cold wind and the calming effect of the scenery before my eyes.
If I have to recommend only one temple that you must visit during your trip to South Korea, it will be this temple. I’d say that is imperative that everyone visiting Gyeongju go to Bulguksa and it is definitely not to be missed! The beautiful garden, meticulous set-up of the temple’s architecture, the nature that surrounds the whole temple, overwhelming views, and the serenity of the place are the points I absolutely loved. Of course, going here on an autumn was a plus for us. Bulguksa Temple has been one of the highlights of my trip to South Korea and I would not miss a chance of going back here again.