South Korea in the Perspective of a Filipino Expatriate

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Discovering the Mystery of Jeju’s Sanbangsan Mountain Temple


During my trip to Jeju Island, my visit at the Sanbangsan Mountain Temple was the most extraordinary because it has the element of mystery. We went there in the late afternoon, it was drizzling and the sky was eerie. I don’t know if I would be thankful for the gloomy weather for it will keep the scorching heat of the sun away from us, or I would feel bad because hiking a mountain while it’s drizzling is pretty bad combination, at least in my book.


If you happen to pass by the Sanbangsan, it’s impossible not to notice the temple nesting on this mountain. According to the legend, this was used to be the peak of the Mt. Halla. When it was broken off, the peak was thrown off at the area where Sanbangsan is now located. If you look at the crater of Mt. Halla now, there’s a lake called a white deer lake which, according to the legend, is a space left by its crater which is now Sanbangsan.


Since it’s a mountain, we expected that the trip needs a little bit of hiking, and by little bit I meant around 15 minutes of uphill climb via the steep wooden staircase they provided for those who are interested to see what’s up there. I was tempted not to hike the mountain because there are already a lot of things to see in the area. Believers go to this place where there’s a giant statue of a golden Buddha. The statue is surrounded by golden bells. People believe that if you touch all the bells around the statue, you can make a wish and it will come true.



Since I was already there, I decided to just hike the mountain to see what’s up there. I was intrigued to the fact that people are willing to hike the mountain just to go to this very special place. As we went uphill, the magnificent view from the mountain was such a refreshing sight. Everywhere you look from the mountain is spectacular. I forgot I was tired from hiking because every now and then, I stopped just to absorb the wonderful sight of the ocean and flat plains below.



I almost forgot I have to climb up to the peak, so I decided to continue hiking. When I reached the top, there were several people resting and some were even panting. Then I started evaluating if it’s all worth the climb. What I saw up there was a very mysterious and holy place. They call this place Sanbangsan-gulsa, a mountain room cave temple. This cave has been existing since the Goryeo Dynasty in 964 to 1053. This was used to be the praying ground for people from that dynasty. According to the legend, a certain monk named Monk Hye-Il lived in this cave alone with his statue of Buddha. The cave has overflowing springwater, people drink the water for cleansing the spirit. You can also light a candle and offer a prayer for your wish and your appeals.



The drizzle turned into rain when we decided to climb down the mountain. It was obviously easier to go down than to go up, but with the heavy rain trying to intimidate us, it was a little bit of a challenge to trek the mountain. On a good weather day, Sanbangsan is a perfect place

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