Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple

Started my trip making a visit to Bulguksa. Situated about 40mins away from Gyeongju city centre, this temple is a National Treasure of South Korea and also a UNESCO Heritage (#502). The history of this temple dates back all the way to the Three Kingdoms where Shilla still exists.

During the Imjin war (Japanese war), this temple was destroyed and subsequently, the temple was being reconstructed, expanded and eventually restored to its present form, with famous stone structures preserved from the original Shilla construction.

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Walking into the compound after you cross the bridge, the Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) and Baegungyo (White Cloud Bridge) stand. The lower staircase, Cheongungyo, has 17 steps and the upper staircase, Baegungyo, has 16, which makes  up 33 steps, corresponding to the 33 steps to enlightenment. These steps lead to Jahamun, which is the gate to Daeungjeon (Sakyamuni Buddha Hall). These bridge-like stairways symbolically connect the earthly world below and the world of Buddha above. Some say that they symbolize man’s journey from youth to old age.

The entire Bulguksa contains a total of 7 National Treasures including the 2 bridges.

As the restoration was done many years ago, you could see the ages on the building, with the paint fading away, and some wood coming off.

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It’s a real function temple so you could still see monks walking around. Bulguksa also offers temple stay which the public could take part in.

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To get there: Take bus 10 from bus interchange. Bus 10 would drop right outside the temple. The way back would be to board bus 10 from the same bus stop you alight.

Admission fee: 4000won per adult

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