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Selection of Eight Temples for the Enjoyment of Beautiful Winter Snow Scenes

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Writer admin Date07 Dec 2006 Read14,414 Comment0

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Five skandhas or aggregates are empty, but doesn’t the white color signify purity and emptiness as well? November 22 was "the minor snow," one of the 24 cosmic terms of the year in the lunar calendar in Korea, and, as the term implies, it is the harbinger of the snowy season. When we look at the mountains covered with beautiful white snow, it seems that all the dust accumulated in our mind are melting away.

There are 10 noted mountains in Korea. They are Baekdu (white head), Geumgang (diamond), Halla, Seorak (snow mountain), Jiri (extraordinary wisdom), Songri (cessation of the mundane world), Odae (five foundations), Taebaek (great white), Geryong (cock and dragon), and Bukhan (the north of the capital). Except Baekdu and Geumgang, they are all located in the southern part of the Korean peninsula.

Baekdam Temple in Mt. Seorak

Baekdam (hundred ponds) Temple is the most well known temple in the interior region of the Mt. Seorak. This temple is located by the up stream of the Baekdam creak where the two streams flowing down from Gaya and Gugok creeks meet. This temple is also the gateway to the mountain climbing of the interior region of Mt. Seorak. There are eight mountain trails around the temple.

This thousand years old temple was first built by Preceptor Jajang during the Silla Dynasty, and it is also well known temple where the patriot-priest Manhae Han Yong-un wrote his famous poem "The Silence of Love."

Transportation guide: Depart from Seoul → #6 national highway → #44 national highway at the junction of Yang-pyeong (70.7km) → three-way junction at the resting station across the Hangeri Folk Artifact Park → #46 national highway to Misi-ryeong → the checkpoint of Hangeri three-way junction (12.3km) → Oega-pyeong three-way junction → turn to right (1.5km) → ticket office at National Park Office (7km) → Baekdam Temple (Authorized vehicles only, and there is a shuttle bus operating from the ticket office to the temple)

Gwaneum Temple in Mt. Halla

Mt. Halla is the highest mountain (1950m above the sea level) in South Korea, which is also the trademark of Jeju Island. It was sometimes called the mountain of Buddhas because there once were 500 temples and Buddha statues in this mountain. This temple, one of the 23 District Head Temples of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, is also, as it is with Baekdam Temple in Mt. Seorak, one of the gateways of the five hiking trails to the peak of the mountain.

Transportation guide: Depart from the local bus terminal (7.9km) → Sancheon-dan (2.0km) → Gwaneum Temple.

Beopju Temple in Mt. Songri

This mountain is famous for its many mountain peaks surrounding the temple. There are eight gates and eight mountain peaks: the inner stone gate, the outer stone gate, Sanghwan stone gate, Sang-go stone gate, Sang-go outer stone gate, Virocana stone gate, Diamond stone gate, Churae stone gate, and Munjang peak, Ipseok peak, Gyeongup peak, Baeseok peak, Hakso peak, Eunseok peak, Phoenix peak, Sanho peak, which all add to the beauty of the snow scenes of the mountain. Departing from the temple is the basic route to all the hiking trails in the Mt. Songri.

Transportation guide: Boeun township, Chungbuk Province → #25 national highway (4km) → Dae-a-ri → #37 national highway (7.3km) → the branch school of Sucho primary school (4.2km) → Peopju Temple.

Hwaeom Temple in Mt. Jiri

Hwaeom Temple, one of the 23 District Head Temples of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, is the largest of the many temples in Mt. Jiri with many cultural assets. You can smell the fragrance of the thousand years old temple when you pass the One Pillar Gate, the Diamond Deva Gate, the Gate of Four Heavenly Guardians until you finally arrive at the Boje Pavilion.

This temple was well known for the departing point for the mountain hiking in the Jiri mountain until the completion of the Sung Sang Pass road. The Nogo peak of Mt. Jiri is about 1,200m above the sea level from the temple, and the mountain trail from the temple to is noted for its steep climb straight to the mountain peak, so steep that it is called "the nose pass."

Transportation guide: Depart from Seoul → Daejon → Jeonju → turn to right to #19 industrial highway after passing Chunhyang tunnel of Namweon → Bangjae tunnel (20.2km) → enter #19 national highway from Gure IC, and then turn to left at Naeng-cheon three-way junction to enter #18 national highway (3.5km) → drive straight ahead at the Magwang three-way junction (2.1km) → Hwaeom Temple.

Woljeong Temple in Mt. Odae

Mt. Odae is noted for its beautiful scenery with the excellent natural surroundings of holy land where fifty-thousands Bodhisattvas are residing, according to the legend. The best winter snow-scenery of Mt. Odae is the view along the ridge from the main peak of Vairocana to the thick bush of japonica and the giant dead trees.

It is highly recommendable to visit the snow-capped bush of fir trees that form the snow-flower tunnel of Woljeong Temple, Sangwon Monastery, the Hall of Sublime Equanimity where the genuine sarira of Shakyamuni Buddha is enshrined, and then the Vairocana peak, the highest point of the mountain.

Transportation guide: Yeongdong expressway → Jinbu IC → #6 national road → 4km → Weoljeong three-way junction (Woljeong gas station) → turn to left to the north (4km) → Geon-pyeong bridge → three-way junction → turn to left (4km) → Woljeong Temple parking area.

Jeongam Temple in Mt. Taebaek

You can see not only the fine prospect of the temple but also the whole vista of the Taebaek mountain from the Sumano stupa (treasure #40) on the hill behind the Hall of Sublime Equanimity. The Sumano stupa is believed to have built with the agate obtained from the King of Dragon under the Yellow Sea by Preceptor Jajang when he was sailing back home from China where he studied at Mt. Odae.

The Sumano stupa is more celebrated because of the genuine sarara of Shakyamuni Buddha which is enshrined in the stupa, whereas the temple is designated as one of the five Halls of Sublime Equanimity in our country.

Transportation guide: Yeongdong expressway → Jecheon central expressway → Jecheon IC → Yeongweol → Sabok → Gohan → Gangweon Land → Manhang pass → Jeongam Temple.

Donghak Temple in Mt. Geryong

Donghak Temple is famous for its long tradition of Bhikkuni Buddhist Academy. The hiking trail starting from the temple to Eunseon fall → Gwaneum peak → the long ridge of the mountain → Sambul-bong pass → Sinheung Monastery → Yongmun fall → then finally to Gap Temple, which extends to 7.lkm, is well-known. But in the snowy winter, the mountain climbers prefer the course that connects the valleys of Danghak and Gap Temples instead of taking the course along the steep ridge of the peaks.

Transportation guide: Cheonan-Nonsan expressway Gongju IC → Gongju → #32 national highway → Pak Jeongja three-way junction → Donghak Temple.

Jin-gwan Temple in Mt. Bukhan

Jin-gwan Temple is beloved temple of Seoul citizens with three other temples around the capital. They are Buram Temple to the east, Sammak Temple to the south, Seungga Temple to the north. The beautiful Bukhan mountain is designated as the national park with many cultural assets and historical sites. Besides Jin-gwan and Seungga Templs, there are many other famous old temples in Mt. Bukhan including Doseon and Hwage Temples, all beloved by Seoul citizens.

Transportation guide: Get off subway #3 at Gupabal station and exit by gate #3 → take Maeul (village) bus #7724 → Jin-gwan Temple.

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