Naksansa Temple in Gangneung, Korea
Sitting on a hill on the northernmost end of Naksan Beach, one can spot the 18 meter high Bodhisattva of Mercy, Haesugwaneumsang, the largest of her kind in the region, while lying on the beach enjoying the sun.
As she gazes out onto the sea and the playful people below her, she invites those in the area to stop by and really Naksansa Temple (낙산사) is a must see. The temple is considered one of the great eight scenic areas, or Gwandong Palgyeong (관동팔경), in the Eastern region of Korea.
Originally founded in 671 C.E. by Monk Uisang-daesa, it was destroyed, rebuilt, reconstructed and expanded numerous times throughout history. In April of 2005, the temple was completely destroyed by a fire but like it had been so many times before, it was rebuilt for new visitors and adventurers to the area.
I would recommend visiting early in the morning as the temple is quite popular but not only that, it requires quite a bit of walking up and down hills and steps. In the heat of the summer, the visit will certainly get the sweat dripping if visited in the middle of the day. After entering and walking through a small courtyard area with a cafe on the right side and a small restaurant that serves free noodle soup for lunch there are signs that direct visitors to enter further. Heading to the right, there is Uisangdae Pavilion built on the top of a cliff where it is said that Uisangdae meditated.
If you head back around from the pavilion to the courtyard and follow the signs in the other direction, you’ll come to a beautiful lotus pond with some of the largest flowers I’ve seen here. There’s a flat stone in the middle that people toss coins onto before heading up the steps to Bota-jeon Hall. I highly recommend taking off your shoes and stepping inside to see the unique and beautiful Bota-jeon statue inside as well as the numerous statues that surround it.
After this hall, a hill leads up to the stone statue you may have seen from the beach below. Benches surround her for visitors to rest, take in the view and enjoy the serenity of the hilltop. It was really a nice surprise to see this exquisite temple on our weekend away and I would highly recommend it to visitors. For more information on the history and background of some of the statues and architecture, head over to Dale’s Korean Temples site.
Naksansa Temple (낙산사)
강원 양양군 강현면 낙산사로 100
100 Naksansa-ro Ganghyeon-myeon Yangyang-gun, Gangwon-do
Hours: 6:00am ~ 8:30pm
Directions: from Yangyang Intercity Bus Terminal, take bus 9 or 9-1 to Naksansa Temple. Takes approximately 10-15 minutes.
Admission: Adults W3,000; Teenagers & Students W1,500; Children W1,000
Amenities: restrooms, parking (W3,000), cafe, restaurant with free noodle soup during lunch hours