Busan is the second largest city of South Korea. With a population around 4 million, it is located on the south-eastern part of Korean peninsula; near Fukuoka, an island of Japan. Buddhism was introduced in this region long after Buddha had died and spread throughout this area because of the peace that is taught in Buddhism. Although Christianity is most practised in South Korea, Buddhism is the most practised religion in Busan. Busan is also blessed with some ancient and beautiful temples.
Throughout its history, Korean culture has been influenced by Buddhist teachings and its practice in the country, and it is said that there are almost 300 small and large temples in South Korea alone. Many of the older and more famous temples were built in the mountains, and one can even hike the mountains to enjoy the beautiful views of these temples. Exuding heavenly vibe these temples attract travellers like moth to the flame, and most tourists at least plan to visit these temples while visiting Busan.
Here are a few famous temples of Busan:
Beomeosa Temple has the most traditional look along with stunning views and gorgeous surroundings. Located on the mountain Gaumjeongsan, it is one of the most important temples in Korea. An interesting aspect of Beomeosa temple is that it has variety of unique features for the benefit of visitors. There are all sorts of activities that run throughout the year which include a detailed temple tour that can be a very memorable cultural experience, as the visitors are introduced to the background and history of the temple.
At the base of Baegyangsan Mountain, stands Samgwangsa temple which has a panoramic view of the city. It is located centrally in Busan city and worth a visit any time of the year. It is, without a doubt, one of the most impressive temples to see around the time of Buddha’s birthday anniversary. This temple has expansive grounds, scenic beauty and hiking trails. But the biggest attraction is the celebration in the weeks leading to Buddha’s birthday anniversary. During this time, Samgwangsa Temple holds Busan’s largest Lotus Lantern Festival, and the temple become an incredible display of light and colour as the place is decorated with thousands of lanterns, providing an unforgettable experience and quite a lucrative chance to take impressive photographs.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
One of the most astonishing and unique temples, Haedong Yunggungsa is located on the coastline overlooking the East Sea and Songjeong beach. For its location and the breathtaking views, it is also called The Water Temple. This is one temple one shouldn't miss while visiting Busan. Over the rocks, by the ocean, this temple has a soothing ambiance to it that cleanses the visitors' soul. There is a golden Buddha statue looking at the temple. There are also 12 Chinese zodiac sign statues and other monumental statues, dragon statues, impressive gates, staircases with great architectural beauty to see. When the waves crash on the stones the spectacle is simply magical.
Another unique and original temple, and of course not for the faint hearted people is Seokbulsa temple, which requires quite a bit of a hiking to reach. After grime roads and some abrupt climbs, the spectacular temple can be found. Along the way one will also pass through some interesting mountain villages and see some colourful views. Although the trail is not perfectly identified, there are some signs that mark the route, and obviously locals are always willing to help out. Not only the view from the top that’s incredible, but the temple in and of itself is just mesmerising. Carved into rocks, Seokbulsa offers a massive engraved Buddhist imagery.
Tongdosa temple is considered as one of the Three Jewel Temples of Korea. Unlike most temples, there are no statues or images of Buddha present outside the temple. Rather, Tongdosa is famous for its relics. Legends say, several of the relics includes Buddha’s skull and robe, which are contained within temple grounds. The temple is the largest in Korea and is about 1500 years old. Adjacent to the entrance, there is a stream that is popular among locals and is a beautiful start to a visit to this popular site. This temple also offers Korean dishes within the premise from various food shops and restaurants.
Eunsusa is a very small temple that sits at the base of the Elephant Rock (locally called Sutmaibong). Not very far from the city, this temple is mostly famous for an extremely rare pear tree which is believed only to exist there. Legend has it that this tree is more than 600 years old. The literal meaning of Eunsusa is Silver Water Temple. This temple is considered a natural monument of the giant rock formation behind it.
Temple Stay accommodates everyone who wishes to stay there. Regardless of where they are from, which religion they follow, if interested, anyone can stay in the temple. Not only staying in but they can meditate, pray and live Buddhist monastic life in it. Monks help the guests to know the way of Buddhist life, giving them instructions and guidance about peace. This is an extraordinary opportunity for anyone.
Busan is just not only a port city of South Korea but the heart of Buddhist culture and magnificent temples.