Special Historic Temple on Seoul and Gwacheon's Gwanak-san
Views of this temple, said to have been founded in 667 by Great Master Uisang, who brought
the Hwa-eom [Flower-Garland (Sutra), Chinese: Hua-yen] Sect teachings from China and
established them in Korea with royal support. Way up on the main ridge of this mountain at
520 meters-above-sea-level, this is the highest important temple in the Seoul region. The
almost-two-storey wooden Main Hall set on a high stone foundation (shown above) is
consider architecturally unique, and the siting and layout of the entire temple is a good
example of how Korean Geomancy [Pungsu-jiri] influenced Korea's Buddhist tradition.
This three-storied stone pagoda, 3.2m-tall, was built to enshrine sarira
and relics of great monks who achieved enlightenment in their lifetime.
Its style is typical of the early Goryeo Dynasty (10th-11th Cen). Its
gradually ascending tiers, each with a roof subtly upturned at the eaves,
are gracefully portioned; although it has been refurbished several
times, it is still thought to be in its original design. It has been
designated Gyeonggi-do Provincial Tangible Cultural Property #104.
People say that this hermitage enjoys an open-to-all atmosphere rather than the austere
serenity visitors usually feel at a temple deep in the mountains, because it is a friendly
stopover point for most of Gwanak-san's million annual visitors.
The Sanshin-gak here is named on its signboard as the "Geumnyun Bojeon" [Golden
Wheel Treasure-Hall] -- a most unusual, auspicious and high-ranking name for a shrine to
the Mountain-spirit. It seems to associate this San-shin with Gwanse-eum-bosal, the
popular Bodhisattva of Compassion, and raise this powerful Shamanic deity up to the
theological level of a Buddhist Bodhisattva -- an extremely interesting trend in modern
Korea. I have not yet been able to find out who wrote were ordered this signboard, or how
long ago it was created. Many Koreans believe that if they place a stone on the dol-tap
pile on the boulder behind this Sanshin-gak and offer a sincere prayer, their wishes will be
granted. When the national college entrance examinations are approaching for high
school students, this hermitage is bustling with their mothers praying for their child's
successful result due to this continuing belief. (photos of it will come soon)