Usually we have to hike up a mountain if we want to have a look around a temple in Korea. But not in the case of Silleuksa temple in Yeoju – this is the only temple in Korea that is by the riverside. Yeoju is about an hour away from Seoul by bus and there are other places of historical interest that can be seen in a day trip including the tomb of King Sejong the Great and the birthplace of Empress Myeongseong.
It’s thought that Silleuksa was built by Monk Wonhyo (around A.D. 580) during the reign of King Jinpyeong in the Silla Period – anyway, it’s very old. Silleuksa was made a prayer sanctuary to the royal mausoleum of King Sejong the Great. It cost us 2,200 won each to get in (a lot more expensive than the entrance fee to King Sejong’s tomb) and a group of adjummas arrived at the same time as us and were also muttering over the pricey entrance fee..
I don’t think we saw the temple at its best though. The weather was cold (late March) and it was before the cherry blossom season started so the trees were bare. There was also a lot of repair and repainting work going on to several of the temple buildings. So they were covered up. And there was construction work going on across the river too so some of the views were a bit, well, see below… nowhere can escape concrete and the mega apartment complex.
But we got the general idea, and I could feel that this place does date back even further than the Joseon period. We saw some 600 year-old Ginko trees for one thing (see below). Temple stays are available here at Silleuksa Temple and despite all the work going on, there were several groups of foreign visitors staying here. I’d definitely like to go back perhaps during autumn and after all the work is finished!
entrance to the temple
building and repainting work
purple scooter by the temple gates
detail of temple gates
600 year-old Ginko tree
roof detail over the temple bell
roof and tiny bell
There are some rare treasures here too such as this 7 tier stone pagoda (designated treasure 226) – stone pagodas are rare in Korea.
Three important monks are enshrined at the temple and this is treasure no. 228 – a stone bell built to enshrine the bones of monk Seongag.
For more details about the treasures at Silleuksa see Life in Korea.