The pace of Seoul is fast, it is a metropole that never sleeps and that can overwhelm the visitor with flashy neon signs, endless shopping opportunities, thick traffic, streets full of people. Just around the beginning of Insadong shopping street, and surrounded by skyscrapers and multi-lane streets full of cars lies the Jogyesa temple complex. It is a Buddhist island in an ocean of concrete. The first Buddhist temple was built here in the 14th century, while the present temple was constructed early 20th century. As soon as you walk into Jogyesa area, you start winding down. The atmosphere is different: the people are serene, the frenzy of the city is lacking completely, and you could well imagine being outside the city altogether.
The complex of Jogyesa consists of several interesting constructions. There is the Seven Story Stone Pagoda, which was constructed in 1937 and holds a sarira which was taken to Korea in the early 20th century by a Sri Lankan monk. Then there are two noteworthy trees: a pine tree that is over 500 years old, and the so-called Chinese Scholar Tree which is more than 400 years old; both trees standing just outside the Great Hero Hall. Then there is Paradise Hall, a two-story bell pavilion holding a bell that is struck every morning and evening by Buddhist monks, as well as a meditation centre, a college building and a gift shop.
After I left my shoes outside and entered the Great Hero Hall, it was difficult to get inside because it was completely packed. People were immersed in prayer, there were speeches, there was applause. My eyes directly caught the three golden images of Buddha: Sakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha Buddha and Bhaisaiya Buddha. The former was the original statue; the two others were added only in 2006. Since Sakyamuni is considered a hero by Buddhists, the hall is called Great Hero Hall. It actually is the largest one floor hall building in Korea. Once outside, a fine snow had started to fall on Seoul, but this could not distract the Buddhist Koreans to continue their prayer.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Jogyesa Temple (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 Jogyesa Temple.
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