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Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple

Recent Posts, Posted by Matt in ALL DESTINATIONS,Buddhist Temples,Historic Korea,Jeolla,Nature, 8 Comments

Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple


From Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple of Gimje

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Until a couple of weeks ago, I had never visited North Jeolla Province. So when a friend of mine invited me to come along with her on a weekend trip, I jumped at the chance. North Jeolla-do has long been Korea’s rice bowl, and its terraced rice paddies and natural areas are famed for their beauty. During my travels there, one of my favorite places was the Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple.

“Geumsansa” actually means “Gold Mountain Temple,” and it’s technically located between the cities of Jeonju (전주시) and Gimje (김제시) on the slopes of Moaksan mountain (모악산). Founded over 14 centuries years ago during the first year of King Beop (법왕) of the Baekje Kingdom, the temple is best known for its Maitreya Hall, which houses the massive Mireuksa Buddha, and is Korea’s only remaining 3-story pre-modern building. The gorgeous structure features dozens of colorful paintings. And each corner of its three roofs requires a supporting column, due to the weight of the ornate eaves.


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Legend has it that the temple was built after Master Jinpyo 진표 had a vision of a Maitreya Buddha upon returning from China. After the vision, he met a dragon king who presented him with a jade robe and led him into the forest. Suddenly, men and women appeared and came together to build the temple in just a few days.

From Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple of Gimje

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By the year 1097 during Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty, the Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple complex had grown to 86 shrine halls and 43 hermitages. This golden age for the Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple ended, however, during the Hideyoshi invasions of the late 16th century. During the Japanese invasions, Geumsansa was a training ground for over 1,000 monks who volunteered to fight against the intruders. In response, the entire complex was razed by fire by the Japanese.

From Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple of Gimje

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Many of Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple‘s present buildings date from 1635, although there are several stone treasures that predate them. For example, Sokryeondae (석련대), a detailed lotus-shaped pedestal cut from a solid piece of stone, is estimated to be over 1,000 years old.

From Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple of Gimje

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The pedestal, the 3-story hall, a number of other buildings, stone treasures and even a few ancient trees surround a large peach-colored courtyard. When I visited early one Saturday morning, I was struck by the temple’s peaceful setting. The beautiful buildings amongst forested hills and between two streams felt perfect.

From Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple of Gimje

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There’s no doubt that this is why Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple has a popular temple stay program. Guests help with chores, practice sitting and walking meditation, and even participate in formal monastic meal and tea ceremonies. If you plan on spending the night, however, you should know that the pre-dawn morning service begins at 3:00 am, when the rhythmic sounds of a mokt’ak and chanting signal it’s time to file into the Main Buddha Hall. For you late sleepers out there, please note that participation is not optional!

From Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple of Gimje

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When it was time to leave and I had passed through the last of the four gates leading into Geumsansa Gold Mountain Temple, I saw a number of red flowers that had popped up near the gate’s base. The best way I can describe them is a thin stalk topped off with what resembles a dozen bright red, tiny Asiatic lilies. It turns out these are hurricane or red spider lilies, and they’re one of the most colorful blossoms of Fall..

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For your information…

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Sunrise-SunsetAdmission: ₩3,000 Adults; ₩2,000 Youth; ₩1,000 Children;63-1330
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North Jeolla Province Gimje-si Geumsan-myeon Maok 15-gil 1From Jeonju Express Terminal, take bus #79 to Geumsansa Temple (buses depart every 30 mins. between 06:24~22:45).website
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8 Comments

24 October 2008 01:01

Lee

So beautiful!!! Wow nice..
i didn’t know Korea has so many beautiful
places~i think u r the korean!!
i’m foreigner the lol
Let’s go together~kk

27 October 2008 22:07

Matt Kelley

I think foreigners are often the people who are most likely to take the time to go sightseeing… I’m American, but have never visited the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty or Niagara Falls but most of my Korean friends who have traveled in the U.S. have… I guess some of us are just less apt to travel when we’re in our home countries!

RE: traveling together, sure! I’d love to.

26 February 2009 07:49

erinatruba

Hi! I’m the Community Manager of Ruba.com. We’re building a website to highlight some of the most interesting places travelers around the world have discovered. We’ve read hundreds of blogs about Korea, and we think that yours is awesome! We’d love to highlight excerpts from blogs like yours (assuming it’s OK with you of course) and to discuss other ways of tapping into your expertise if you are interested. I’m at erin@ruba.com.
Thanks! :)

1 March 2009 08:34

Matt Kelley

Hi Erin,
Thanks for your note. I’ve been in touch with Mike, as well, and we’re discussing the best ways to work together. Good luck!

7 March 2009 13:46

Jeju Feature Part 4: Yakcheonsa Temple « Discovering Korea with Matt Kelley

[...] I’m more of a fan of the faded murals of temples like North Jeolla Province’s Geumsansa or North Chungcheong Province’s Beopjusa, Yakcheonsa’s freshly painted frescoes do a [...]

4 May 2009 05:05

Ken

Thanks for taking me back to a favorite place. I lived in Jeonju 15 yrs ago and still vividly remember the bus ride and the to walk to the temple.

6 May 2009 00:39

Matt Kelley

Hi Ken,

15 years ago? I’m so curious to know what Korea looked like then… especially somewhere like Jeonju with all its cultural and historical significance. Although Korea has seen remarkable wealth over a short period of time, it’s sad to think about what’s also been lost in the rush to industrialize. Anyhow, thanks for your note!

Best, Matt

12 September 2010 21:29

Discovering Korea – All Destinations

[...] Fall Color at Mt. Bukhansan [October 30, 2008] Where to See Autumn 2008 Color [October 25, 2008] Gimje’s Gold Mountain Temple [October 17, [...]

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