Daily Archives: January 2, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Site #20: Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple

Posted by on January 2, 2009

World Heritage Site #19: Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple

World Heritage Site #20: Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple

From the World Heritage inscription:

Established in the 8th century on the slopes of Mount T’oham, the Seokguram Grotto contains a monumental statue of the Buddha looking at the sea in the bhumisparsha mudra position. 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 the Seokguram Grotto form a religious architectural complex of exceptional significance.

Located a short distance out of Geyongju, the Seokguram Grotto and Bluguksa Temple are two completely different sites put under the same World Heritage banner. The Seokguram Grotto was a real disappointment. It is much more difficult to get to, sitting on the top of a mountain, up a winding road. You have to walk about 10-15 min to get there, and when you do get there, it is a tiny alcove where you can’t take photos, and the Buddha is walled off in glass.

The Bluguska Temple, however, is the most impressive thing in the Gyeongju area. It was the best preserved temple I visited in South Korea, and is a rather large complex. The above photo is the front of the Bluguska Temple. Both the temple and the shrine can be visited from Gyeongju on a half day trip via taxi or organized tour.