With South Korea having the rich past that it does, its not long after a foreigner arrives here before they go searching for relics of its heritage. As such, I also went looking for the most vaunted cultural attraction in Cheonan, Gagwonsa Temple, within the first few months of being settled in South Korea (little did I know that it would be close to the end of my stay there, but c’est la vie).
Located up on the slopes of Taejosan above the rapidly growing industrial, high-tech and research city of Cheonan, this place is one of serenity and peace from the hustle and bustle present in the streets below.
After taking a bus from the entertainment district of Cheonan, I arrived in the relaxing mountain village that lies just below the temple complex itself. After a bit of a walk in the sweltering 32 degree heat (not counting the heat index), I finally made it to the most famous sight of Gagwonsa – The Bronze Buddha…
Noted as one of the largest sitting Buddhas in Asia, it was a worthwhile sight to see on this day … but there was still more exploring to be done.
To those not familiar with Asian religious history, the symbol of the swastika on these venerated temple structures may come as a bit of a shock. They were used as Hindu and Buddhist symbols for thousands of years before the Nazis co-opted this icon for their own nefarious purposes.
Heading down into the courtyard, I simply couldn’t come here without taking a look inside…
Shoes off before going in!
I wasn’t sure if cameras were frowned within the inner sanctum, so I snapped a pic before stepping inside. Anyone in the know about this, please inform me on the proper protocol!
I was going to go on a mountain hike on this day, but with the heat so overwhelming on this day, I thought better of it on this day and turned back at this point. Summer is a terrible time to go peak bagging in Korea, spring or fall is your best bet!
Do you have a favorite local temple in Korea where you live? Have you visited one on holiday here? Tell all in the comments below!