When I walked from the bus station to the entrance of Bulguksa, little could I appreciate of the beauty I would later see inside. On this frosty and sunny winter morning, the trees surrounding Bulguksa were bare, and I could only try to imagine what it would look like in spring. Once inside, I noticed a thin layer of ice on the pond; nevertheless, the outside temperature was comfortable. I crossed a bridge to arrive at the area in front of the complex itself. The complex lies on the lower slopes of Tohamsan mountain, on a higher level. To reach it, there are four stairs, officially called bridges, with 33 steps representing the 33 steps to enlightenment.
Unfortunately, the delicately carved stone stairs are closed for the public, and I had to take a back entrance. I arrived at the main courtyard and immediately saw that one of the national treasures inside this Unesco World Heritage Site, the stone pagoda of Dabotap, was completely covered for repair. Seokgatap, the other stone pagoda, was visible, and a peek inside Daeungjeon temple revealed a golden Buddha image. From here, I continued exploring, seeing other temples like Geuknakjeon, Birojeon, and Gwaneumjeon, as well as the bell tower and sarira stupa.
Bulguksa literally means the Temple of the Buddha Land, and was constructed in the heyday of the Silla culture, in the middle of the 8th century. In its long existence, it was destroyed, restored and expanded several times. What is especially notable is the fine paintwork under the roofs of the temples, the bright colours, the serene atmosphere despite the fact that this is one of the major tourist sights in the country. Even with groups of school children running around, staring and waving at the odd foreigner, there is an unmistakeable peaceful air around the temples and courtyards of Bulguksa.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bulguksa (South Korea). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bulguksa. Read more about this site.