So the end of my epic two-day hike where I got to and from mainland South Korea’s highest peaks by paths less trodden was Ssangyesa Temple.
Ssangyesa, which means ‘Twin Streams Temple’, is right in the center of Jirisan National Park on the east-west axis, and is at the southern perimeter of the park. It is also at the border between Gyeongsangnam and Jeollanam Provinces.
Since I came from the mountain, I actually entered Sssangyesa backwards, and the photo above shows my first glimpse of Ssangyesa. It is in fact the original temple (well, not THE original temple – the temple was destroyed during the Japanese invasion of 1592) before it was expanded. It’s currently dedicated to the Chinese Zen master Haeneng.
And so I continued my descent into the temple.
I then went past the bell and reached the main courtyard.
There was a National Treasure there.
It’s the Jingam stele, which was carved around 886 C.E.
I then walked through to the front courtyard, and found this.
This is a relatively new stone pagoda … which compensates for its newness with height.
Apparently, it enshrines sari (crystallized remains) from the Buddha. Only a few Buddhist temples in South Korea have sari.
And here are some of the famous wooden gates of the temple.
Of course, since I entered the temple backwards, I didn’t encounter them until I was on my way out.
Above is the gate which houses the Four Heavenly Kings, and was built in 1704.
The above photo was taken inside the second gate, called the Geumgangmun Gate, looking at the Iljumun Gate. The Geumgangmun Gate was built in 1641. The statues below are inside the Geumgangmun Gate. You can learn more about the temple and its history at San-shin and Dale’s Korean Temple Adventures
I admit, after that hike, I was really interested in a) food and b) getting on a bus, so I was not in the best mood to appreciate the temple. I did get some food in the village outside Ssangyesa. I originally thought I’d have to stay overnight in Jinju, or Hadong, or if I missed the last bus in the village around Ssangyesa. However, I got a bus to Hadong in time to catch a Hadong -> Busan express bus, so Busan is where I slept.
But these photos recorded my visit, and now that I’m in a different frame of mind, this temple looks beautiful indeed.