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South Korea: Jogyesa Temple

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Jogyesa Temple | South Korea | Asia

[Visited: December 2008]

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.

Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Buddhist nuns dressed in pink walking past Jogyesa Temple

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.

Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Seven story stone pagoda and Chinese scholar tree at Jogyesa

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.

Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Looking up inside Jogyesa temple
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Bowing for the golden Buddha images inside Jogyesa temple
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Pink dressed Buddhist nuns in prayer inside Jogyesa temple
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Woman in prayer with book inside Jogyesa temple
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Buddha triad with praying woman
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Decoration outside the Great Hero Hall of Jogyesa
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Roof of the Great Hero Hall of Jogyesa in fine snow
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Woman in prayer with burning incense outside Jogyesa
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): People around a fire in the courtyard of Jogyesa temple complex
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Leaving a message outside Jogyesa temple
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Still outside the Great Hero Hall: shoes and wooden panel
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Top of seven story stone stupa with modern building in the background
Picture of Jogyesa Temple (South Korea): Small stone pagoda with decorated wooden panels outside Jogyesa temple

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