Seokguram Grotto: Seoul’s Version
Seokguram Hermitage (경주 석굴암) is one of those places that makes it onto every list of top 10 temples, Buddhist sites or wondrous views while in Korea. If you haven’t heard about it yet, head over to my friend Dale’s website and read more about it there. As I’ve read the name and heard it again and again, though haven’t yet been the site myself, I recognized it when I came across the name in Korean as I sat on the side of Mt. Inwang in Seoul.
Seokguram… Seokguram (인왕산 석굴암), when I realized why I recognized the name it made me all the more confused as to why there was a sign for it on Mt. Inwang when the famous one was nestled quietly down south in Gyeongju.
Of course I had to go see what this was all about, even though I’m seven months pregnant, and up we hiked. Luckily, from where we started in Suseong-dong Valley (인왕산수성동계곡), the walk was only about 25 minutes up. If you’re not pregnant, I’m sure it’ll be much faster, though when I say up, I mean up. The entire walk is at a steep incline up stone steps.The steps lead to a clearing and what looks like a giant rock that would be easy enough to walk right on by without noticing except that there is a door on the side beckoning those passing to enter for just a moment. The rock has been carved out inside and though it’s small and no where near as large as the Gyeongju Seokguram, it is no less remarkable that the inside of a rock was carved out to house a Buddhist altar. Lotus lanterns cover every inch of the ceiling and dangle down from above. The carvings in the wall are intricate and beg those stopping by to take more than one look.
It doesn’t take long to stop by and is worth a gander on any hike around the mountain. Don’t think that you can cross off Seokguram from your list of must sees in Korea after you’ve seen this one though. You’ll still have to head down south to see the more immense and popular one of the same name down in Gyeongju.
Address: (no specific address available)
서울특별시 종로구 옥인동
Ogin-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Subway/ Bus: Gyeongbukgung Station, exit 3. Out of the exit, walk straight to the maeul (local bus stop) stop and catch bus 09. Take the bus to the last stop on the route which ends at the foot of the Suseong-dong Valley. The maeul bus takes less than 10 minutes from the subway station. From there, follow the path up. There will be signs directing you.