The last of three World Heritage Sites we saw near Gyeongju, a town in the southeast part of South Korea was the Bulguksa Temple & Seokguram Grotto.
Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple were established in the 8th century on the slopes of Mount Toham. The Seokguram Grotto contains a monumental statue of the Buddha looking at the sea. With the surrounding portrayals of gods, Bodhisattvas and disciples, all realistically and delicately sculpted in high and low relief, it is considered a masterpiece of Buddhist art in the Far East. The Temple of Bulguksa (built in 774) and with the Seokguram Grotto form a religious architectural complex of exceptional significance.
Bulguksa Temple was vast and beautiful. It was also very popular with school field trips the day we went, haha. We spent several hours walking around checking out the various shrines, stairs, courtyards, and etc. Most of the buildings were rebuilt after being destroyed by the Japanese during the occupations in the 1500’s and then again in the early part of the 20th century. With that said it was still very moving seeing all the Buddhist architecture painted in green with a flower like print over it. We loved every minute of it.
To get to the temple we simply took a bus from town to the base of the hill it was built on. Getting to Seokguram Grotto on the other hand involved a $10 taxi ride each way, because the bus was not running due to road construction.
Once we got to Seokguram Grotto we walked about a quarter of mile along a trail and entered building that extended into the side of cliff. Inside there was a wonderful Buddhist statue behind a glass wall. Even taking your time to soak it all in, it only took a minute or two to see this part of the World Heritage Site. I still think it was worth it though. 🙂