Yongchu Temple and Waterfall
Not having terribly much to see in Geochang, nearby Hamyang beckoned with Yongchu Temple (용추사) and waterfall (용추폭포) at an easy 45 minute moped trip away.
Set up in the mountains, the winding road to get to the path was covered with gorgeous lush green bushes and trees that had clearly enjoyed the recent rain fall. Following the path on the left from the parking lot on foot, it’s about a 10 minute walk up a paved road to Yongchu Waterfall. The stream to the waterfall forms in the valley between Mt. Mabong and Mt. Beombang to fall into the pool of water here named Yongchu meaning “a pool of water where a dragon lives.” Legend has it that two female dragons flew from this heart shaped pond up into the sky and upon doing so made markings on the granite boulders on either side of the waterfall with their dragon scales. Water flows here abundantly throughout the year and from the pond branches off in three streams; West Stream, Middle Stream and East Stream. It is said that if the west stream runs dry, Jeolla Province will likely suffer a drought. If the middle stream runs dry, Chungcheong Province will likely suffer a drought. And if the east stream runs dry, Gyeongsang Province will likely suffer a drought. At this time of year, August, rainfall is plentiful and so the waterfall was falling with force. The mist thrown up from the water was cool and a welcome break from the humid air.
Continuing on the paved path, just beyond the waterfall sits Yongchu Temple. This is the only temple area remaining from the original Jangsu Temple complex. At the parking lot, a pavilion can be seen that was the original entrance to the old temple complex, but that is all that has remained with Yongchu Temple after the temple was burnt down during the Korean War. It was originally founded by Gakyeondaesa in 487, the 9th near of King Soji during the Silla Dynasty. Yongchu was rebuilt as part of a restoration project of the old site in 1953. The temple site is not that large and probably not worth it, in and of itself, to see unless one is interested in enjoying the streams and mountain trails that run through the area as well. Where the paved path ends at the temple, after going left to enjoy the temple, the path can also be followed to the right to head to the top of the waterfall and can be followed even further up the stream. There’s a bridge that crosses over the water and if one goes left, mountain trails open up and if followed down to the right this path leads back to the parking lot.
The Yongchu Gyegok Valley makes for an enjoyable trip into the mountain for a day in the Korean countryside.
Sangwon-ri Ahnae-myeon Hamyang-gun Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea
경상남도 함양군 안의면 상원리
962 Sangwon-ri Ahnae-myeon Hamyang-gun Gyeongsangnam-do, Korea
경상남도 함양군 안의면 상원리 962