Gyeryong-san   계룡산
the holy Rooster-Dragon Mountain
Gyeryong-san's traditionally-most-sacred area, the large valley at the southern foot of
Heavenly-King Peak, was initially favored for the site of the capital city of the Goryeo
Dynasty in 935 CE
(and so Gaetae-sa Temple was built just to the south) and was briefly
chosen by
pungsu-jiri geomancers as the site of the capital city of the Joseon Dynasty
in 1390 CE
(foundation stone were laid before Founding-King Taejo Yi changed his mind and
made Hanyang/Seoul his new capital, following the advice of geomancy-master-monk Muhak-daesa,
who based it on the advice/prophescy of
Doseon-guksa).  This holy southern valley was taken
over as the
headquarters base of the Korean Army in the late 1970s, and is closed to
the public.  For that reason the main peak, which has military & civilian communications-
towers on it, is not usually open.
INDEX of my Gyeryong-san Pages:   (many are still under construction)

01  Introduction  (this page)
02  The Gyeryong-san Sanshin-je Mountain-Spirit Ceremonial
Festival at Shinwon-sa [Spirit-Garden Temple]
03  The Buddhist Sanshin-je Ceremony
04  The Neo-Confucian Sanshin-je Ceremony
05  The Northern-Shamanist Sanshin-je Ceremony
06  Mountain-worship Shamanism at Golden Dragon Hermitage
07  The Gyeryong-dae Male and Female Dragon Pools
08  Other Hermitages on the way up to Yeon-cheon-bong Peak
11  Shamanic temples & shrines west and south of Shinwon-sa
12  Shamanic temples & shrines north of Shinwon-sa

13  Gap-sa -- one of Korea's Oldest Monasteries
14  Shinheung-am Hermitage behind Gap-sa -- great Sanshin-gak
15  Shinheung-am Hermitage -- Ancient Natural Stupa-Peak!
16  Other Hermitages and features around Gap-sa
Hiking over Sambul-bong Three Buddhas Peaks, November 2005
18  the Brother-Sister Pagodas and Gyemyeong-jeongsa Hermitage
19  Shamanic temples & shrines south of Gap-sa
20  Shamanic temples & shrines north of Gap-sa

22  Sangshin-gol and -ri , Upper-Spirit Valley and Village
with Ceramics Studios, the Guryong-sa Site and fascinating temples
23  Imgeum-bong Cheonin-sa Shamanic Temple of Sangshin-gol
24  Dan-il-sa Buddhist Temple of Sangshin-gol
25  Cheonryong-sa Buddhist Temple of Sangshin-gol
26  Seongbul-am Shamanic Temple of Sangshin-gol
Anjeong-sa Temple on the upper east side

30  Donghak-sa
31  Hermitages of Donghak-sa
32  Janggun-bong Hakrim-sa Temple and the dinosaur museum
33  other Temples & Shrines around Janggun-bong

34  Shamanic Temples of the Minmok Pass (SE)
35  Shamanic Temples of the Dongwol-gol Valley (SE)
36  the amazing Baekun-am, White Cloud Shrine of Dongwol-gol

40  other sites of Gyeryong-san National Park
the modern monument on
Gwaneum-bong [Bodhisattva
of Compassion Peak],
at 816 meters
MAP of the Gyeryong-san Area:
Gyeryong-san has been one of Korea's most sacred mountains since ancient times.  
It was the central holy mountain of the Baekje Kingdom, the Western Peak of the
of the Unified Shilla and Goryeo Dynasties, and the Central Peak of the Sam-ak of the
Joseon Dynasty.  It's not very high at all -- the summit is
Cheon-hwang-bong [Heavenly-
King Peak] at only 848 meters -- but it stands out prominently on the West Coast
flatlands where few mountains top 1000 m.  It has half-a-dozen other main peaks,
mostly with classical Buddhist names.

The name means "Rooster-Dragon Mountain", given because of the way it looks --
the main ridge winds around like a dragon's body, and the 20 or so sharp peaks along
it resemble a cockscomb when viewed from a distance.  Both the Rooster and the
Dragon are members of the Twelve Symbolic Animals of the Oriental Zodiac, and
thus the name has deeper resonant meanings.

Several dynasties have planned or attempted to build their capital here, and it has
always attracted a wide variety of religious enthusiasm to its slopes.
Gyeryong-san is now the most-heavily-visited attraction in South Chungcheong Province,
located just west of Daejeon City
(a few km southwest of the famous Yuseong Hot Spings District)
and easily accessible from the expressway.  In 1968 it became the second area designated
as a National Park, with 61 square kilometers of territory.  It features three main ancient
Buddhist temples -- Gap-sa
(one of the oldest existing temples in Korea), Donghak-sa (the main
study-temple for the nation's female monks) and Shinwon-sa
(featuring the largest and fanciest
pre-modern San-shin-gak in Korea)
 -- and dozens of fascinating hermitages and shamanic shrines.
The rest of the park is crisscrossed with a dozen main hiking trails, often crowded.  Three
fine waterfalls grace the valleys, one in the center, one in the south (closed to the public)
and the other on the Northwest.  The scenery here, combined with profound cultural
treasures, make it one of the best places in Korea to explore.  The regions surrounding the
park in every direction are unusually rich with traditional cultural sites for the traveler to enjoy.
The name "Gyeryong" may have been derived from the myth
of Alyeong, the first queen of the Shilla Kingdom, as told in the

When Founding-King Bak Hyeok-geose was born (hatched
from a giant egg found next to the Na-jeong Well on sacred
Mt. Nam-san, in Saro village-valley that became Gyeongju),
the elders decided that a suitable wife needed to be found. On
that day, in Saryang village there appeared a strange creature
that was a cross between a rooster and a dragon, called a
Gye-ryong [Korean pronunciation of chinese characters for
"chicken" and "dragon"). From its left side a girl was born
(similar to the myth of Sakyamuni Buddha being born from his
mother's right side; similar also th the Jewish myth of Eve?).

She was a beautiful child, but she had the beak of a chicken.
When she was taken to be bathed, however, the beak fell off.
The child took her name from the Alyeong well next to which
she was born, and she was married to Pak Hyeok-geose when
she reached the age of thirteen.
At the 2000 Gyeryong-san Mountain-spirit Ritual-Festival, the famous shaman Manshin Lee Ae-ju
performs a veneration rite together with Buddhist monks, on the Third Full Moon.
Large icon-painting of the female Sanshin Mountain-spirit of Gyeryong-san, used in that Festival.