Monday, April 7, 2008

More Temples: Tongdosa & Naewonsa

This past weekend brought forth some more nice weather. As an added benefit, the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Given the nice weather, I decided to head out and visit a couple more temples in the area.


The first temple I visited was Tongdosa. It is one of the three main temples in Korea, along with Songgwangsa, which I have already visited, and Haeinsa, which I will probably visit in the next month or two. Like many of the other temples in the area, it dates back to the 7th century. While none of the structures are overly impressive, it does have a very scenic mountain location. The walk from the parking lot to the temple is alongside a stream and lined with pine trees. Unfortunately, there seems to be some sort of disease or pest that is stripping the pine trees of their bark, so a lot of trees are being taken down. But there are still plenty to see.

Along the path, there are numerous rocks with Chinese lettering carved in them.

The main area of the main temple. There are also 19 smaller temples located along the road heading up the mountain.


Nearby is another temple, albeit less impressive. I haven't been to able to find much information about it on line though. There are only a few structures, but they are a little more brightly painted than at most other temples. The hike from the parking lot to the temple is also quite scenic, with trails extending beyond the temple going further up the mountains.

One interesting face of this temple is the monks. If you look closely, through the shaved heads and gray robes, you will notice that they are all women. In fact, a book, Women in Korean Zen, was written about the women monks at Naewonsa.

This upcoming weekend brings a return of the Korean bullfighting festival that I attended last year. I also plan on hitting the Yeongdeuk Snow Crab Festival near Pohang, which is tempting me with free fishing boat rides. Expect a full report with pictures in a week or so.

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