The morning I left Gyeongju, I had a few spare hours to make one last trip to Namsan, so I decided to check out a few things in the relatively accessible northeastern corner, which is very close to downtown Gyeongju.
I first went to Borisa, and temple which looked very lovely that morning.
Behind Borisa is an ancient Buddha statue from the days of the Silla kingdom.
And backside that ancient Buddha statue has a second Buddha image carved into it.
I also got a view over the valley to the east of Namsan.
I then went through Tapgol (Pagoda Valley) to Ongnyongam Hermitage. Behind the hermitage is one of the greatest collections of ancient Buddha carvings in all of South Korea, Bucheobawi.
I think there is a total of … 34 human figures carved onto these rocks? I’m not sure if ’34’ was the number, but a sign there says exactly how many figures there are, and while I found most of them, I never managed to find all of them.
Even if I did not find them all, looking for as many figures as possible was fun.
Of course, not all of the carvings depicted humans.
Above/behind the rock with all of the carvings was … another ancient Silla-style stone pagoda.
The section of rock carvings facing the stone pagoda was my favorite.
Most of the ancient relics in Namsam are ‘a’ pagoda or ‘a’ Buddha image. This set of images offers a lot more variety, not just featuring Buddhas, but different kinds of figures, as well as some additional details, such as the tree carvings which appears in the photo below. It offers me a better look into the imagination of the Silla people.
After taking my time to appreciate this giant rock of art, I went back to downtown, took my luggage and lunch, and left Gyeongju.
I have done a lot of hiking in East Asia. I have done a lot of travelling in East Asia. I have not been to anywhere else like Namsan, with so much art from an ancient kingdom left where the artists originally placed it amidst lovely natural scenery. If one is able do some light hiking, Namsan should be high on the list for anyone who visits South Korea.
And if you want to get a look at Gyeongju through the ages (er, 20th century), Dale’s Korean Temple Adventures has a collection of retro-photos.