Just before Buddha’s birthday, on May 17th, we thought it would only be fitting to take a trip up to Sujong Temple/ 수종사. We had been wanting to go here for a while. We see it every time we drive home from Yangsuri, as it’s sitting high up on the side of 운길산 (Ungil mountain) overlooking the junction of the north and south Han rivers.
To get up to the top, there are several options. There is a road, and many chose to drive up, however hiking may be more rewarding. Small hiking paths zig-zag all over the mountain and they often cross back to the road. We hiked up a combination of both road and hiking paths.
Finally, after about 45 minutes of hiking, we caught our first signs of the temple.
Another 10 minutes of hiking up we finally got to the temple. As with most temples at this time of year, the path was decorated with lanterns for Buddha’s Birthday.
The temple is most renown for it’s view looking over Yangsuri, however with the hazy skies the day we went it was hard to make out much below. Many visitors enjoy the view from the temple’s beautiful tea house with windows open to the view outside.
However, despite being famous for the view, it also has an impressive legend to go along with it as well. In 1458, King Sejo was passing through Yangsuri and stayed there overnight. During the night, he heard the sound of a bell, but upon asking the villagers in the morning where the bell sound came from they said it could not have come from the village. Perhaps, though, it could have come from an abandoned temple on Ungilsan, they told him. He sent his men to investigate and they came across a cave filled with Buddhist sculptures… and water dropping that made a bell-like sound. After this, the temple was born with the name 수종사 (水鐘寺) or ‘Water Bell Temple’.
寺- 사/Sa/ Temple
It’s quite easy to get here from Seoul. Take the Jungang Line to Ungilsan station (50 mins from Wangsimni Station). Come out of exit 1, turn left and take the first street to the right. Follow the street and you will eventually come to signs pointing to the hiking trails to the temple. It’s approximately 1 hour hiking to the temple and you can walk up the road or the hiking trails, whichever is more comfortable for you.
What is your favorite temple in Korea? Where would you like to visit?