Buseoksa Temple, located in the mountains west of Seosan near Buseok, had incredibly beautiful natural surroundings. It is difficult to reach the temple without a car or taxi, but with a car, it was relatively easy to find by following the brown signs. Because this temple has a temple stay program, we were able to take the road all the way up to the temple, and park in one of two parking lots. Originally built in the 600s AD, this temple has undergone many renovations, but has kept its authentic, ancient feeling.
From the parking lots, it is a short uphill climb to the temple buildings. There is a paved road or this beautiful (but uneven!) stone path, whichever is preferred. I loved the flowering trees, the brightly painted gate, and the stone lions/dragons guarding it.
Buseoksa means “floating rock” and, like many ancient Buddhist temples, has a legend surrounding its construction. This temple was founded by the Buddhist monk Uisang. He traveled to China to study Buddhism. There, a girl fell in love with him. When he explained that he was returning to Korea and was not interested in a relationship, she was really sad and threw herself into the sea, where she drowned. She turned into a dragon and became Uisang’s protector. When he returned from China, he decided to build a temple to honor her, with a dragon motif. Apparently, local villagers were not pleased that he was building a temple on their mountain, and came to attack. The legend goes that a big rock floated above the attackers, and warned them not to hurt the priest, or they would be crushed by the rock. Well, being reasonable people who did not want to be crushed by a floating rock, they fled, and the temple got its “floating rock” name.
Walking up the stone steps to the main temple complex, this beautiful lily pond and flowering tree greeted us. The gardens and surroundings of this temple made it extra memorable for me! I love taking Landon to these sites because there is plenty of space to explore and roam without getting into too much trouble. With plenty of patches of dirt and rocks, Landon was happy to play, until he decided he needed to go back down the mountain without me…
There was a worship service going on when we visited, so I did not get many close-up pictures of the main temple buildings. Since this temple has an active temple stay program, the main temple and the overflow pavilion pictured above were full of worshipers. The women occupied the lower building, while the men were up in the main temple building. It enriched the experience to walk the area with the rhythmic, soothing chanting in the background.
The way this temple complex was built up the hillside, there are many different levels with buildings. Shortly after climbing up to the main level with Owen in my pack, Landon decided to head back down, so I had to climb down to retrieve him and then all the way back up. I definitely got my workout in! After learning about the legend of this temple, I noticed the dragons everywhere from the entrance gate to this bell and drum pagoda. These details were unique to this temple, and I loved them!
This shaded walkway went up the hill toward the drum and bell pagoda
I love exploring new places. These temples in the mountains are extra fun because as we climbed higher, there was more to discover! This temple had a variety of very ancient-looking stone pagodas, along with a small temple high up on the mountain side. The mix of new and old buildings was interesting, and this building below had decorative scenes on the walls.
I guess this must be the actual floating rock! There were coins stuck in every available crevice, which I guess is an offering for the dragon lady so that she will protect the givers as well. Near the floating rock was a more modern-looking rock-carved Buddha with offerings of fruit and other food in front of it.
Purportedly, the monk built this temple in this location so that the dragon could see the sea. It was too hazy while we were there visiting, but this is the view from the rock-carved Buddha area.
Up the mountain from the floating rock area was this cute little building. Inside, the ceiling was covered with paper lanterns, and the walls were covered with murals of this wise-looking guy. There was no explanatory signs, so I’m guessing perhaps this is Uisang, the monk that built the temple?
The setting was so peaceful I wished I could stay all day. Unfortunately, it was hot and the kids were getting hungry, so we had to move on. Down the rough stone paths, past the tablets where worshipers write their prayers, we appreciated all the beauty of this place. As we drove back toward Seosan, we stopped to snap some pictures of the pink flowering trees and vibrant green rice fields. The beauty of rural Korea takes my breath away! I feel so blessed to call this area home for the next few months!