Gyeongju is one of South Korea’s most popular cities that attract not just Korean tourists, but also lots of foreigners as this city is rich with culture and history being the former capital of the kingdom of Silla dynasty that lasted for almost thousand years . Gyeongju will allow you to step back in time with its picturesque architecture from the Silla Kingdom. Some of the famous sites (that also includes some that are even UNESCO-recognized) are Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram Grotto, Daereungwon Royal Burial Grounds, Bunhwangsa Temple, Cheongseongdae Observatory, Ahnapji Pond, Namsan Mountain, and Bomun Lake Resort.
I am now regretting the one day we have missed because we could have used this to go around – but anyway, there’s no use crying over spilt milk. Our host has work in the afternoon but he went with us to Seokguram Grotto as he has never been there yet.
We took a cab to Gyeonju station (downtown) and inquired at the tourist station regarding the bus station and schedule to Seokguram Grotto and the nearby temple, Bulguksa. While there, also get a map of the city as it will be very helpful on planning your next destinations.
We took Bus 10 (you may also take Bus 11) from the bus stop near the station. The trip took about 30 minutes. We got off at Bulguksa bus station then took another bus going to Seokguram Grotto. The bus from here comes every 30 minutes.
|The beautiful pavilion near at the foot of Mt. Tohamsan|
We were greeted with amazing blue skies when we arrived at the entrance to Mt. Tohamsan. From there, you can see a large pavilion and inside it, a very humungous bell which is called “The Bell for Peace.” You have to pay 1000 Won to be able to enter here and ring it yourself, we all took the challenge and rang the bell for experience. It's fun to see (or hear) who can ring it the loudest!
|Bell for Peace|
From the entrance, you will have to walk around 15-20 minutes to reach Seokguram. Yes people, just walk and not hike :) Entrance to Seokguram is 8000 Won.
|You may also drink the water coming from the mountains here|
Seokguram Grotto is a temple in Mt. Tohamsan that houses a giant Buddha stone and is protected by two sets of 12 attendant guardians. It is strictly forbidden to enter inside Buddha’s chamber and there are also no photos allowed so you can see to statue only for appreciation. It was still worth seeing just so you can say that you’ve seen it and I did not think our host appreciated it as much as we did. I thought the entrance fee was a bit pricey to what you will be able to see inside though I am not just sure if the religious significance of the statue would make it worthwhile for Buddhists.
|The plan insde Seokguram|
|Buddha - picture is not mine, credits to the owner|
After we have returned to the entrance/exit station, you may opt to either take a bus (that only passes by every 30-40 minutes) back to Bulguksa bus station or hike your way down. You can also hike up to Seokguram from Bulguksa – I am thanking Buddha that we did not take this route as I could have probably be a bit disappointed if I made lots of effort going up to the grotto just to see the overprotected statue.
|stones for your wishes|
It was a 3km hike and if you’re going down it will probably take you 20-30 minutes. I was wearing flats this time (and not rubber shoes or boots) so it took me almost 30 minutes, I was probably the slowest of us three that time.
|snake - and later did we know that it was poisonous|
It was a pretty interesting walk as you could take in lots of fresh air and see lots of nature. I would recommend going to Seokguram Grotto if you are interested with Buddhism and artworks during the Silla dynasty, but if not, you could pass on this one.
Let me know your opinions about the grotto and your inputs about Gyeongju :) Next posts will be more about this beautiful city, so please stay tuned!