Sunday, May 3, 2009

Buddha's Birthday in Gyeongju

Buddha's birthday rolled around again, and as tradition dictates, I visited three temples.


First was Bunhwangsa. It dates from the 7th century, although it has been reconstructed a couple of times. The pagoda is a reconstruction of one of the first pagodas built in Korea. Overall, it's a rather small temple, but it's near several other famous sites.

From Bunhwangsa we attempted to take the bus to Bulguksa. After waiting for about 15 minutes, the other people waiting at the bus stop told us they had been waiting for an hour. So we started walking toward the bus terminal in town. About half way there we saw buses headed to Bulguksa. So we grabbed a bus from there.

Traffic on the road leading to Seokguram/Bulguksa.


Seokguram Grotto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Grotto itself is a temple that's been buried under a mound, much similar to the burial mounds throughout town. Inside are sculptures of Buddha and various other apparitions. Buddha's Birthday is the one time of the year (although maybe on Lunar New Year's Day as well) that you can go inside and walk around the Buddha. On the list of World Heritage Sites that I've visited, I wouldn't rank this one very high.

The outside of the Grotto.


The final stop was Bulguksa, which is probably the most famous temple in Gyeongju. It's not a particularly impressive temple, but on the night of Buddha's Birthday it does have a bit of charm. Unfortunately, it started to rain so the crowd thinned out and the lantern parade around the pagoda was reduced to a few hardy souls. I still managed to get a few decent photos of the temple and lanterns, so I was happy.

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