Thursday, May 12, 2011

Buddha's Birthday at Golgulsa Temple

What an amazing day we had at Golgulsa temple in Gyeongju. Even though the weather was awful, and we went home with soaking wet socks, I wouldn't have traded this day for the world!

First off, here is a picture of the entrance to the temple. You would not believe the intricacy and care taken with the painting on not only this entrance, but every building in the complex.

As we walked uphill further onto the temple grounds, this was our first great view. Hundreds upon hundreds of colorful paper lanterns highlighted the mountainside and culminated at the foot of the great image of Buddha carved into the mountainside.

Here's another view of the same area a little further up the mountainside.

As we climbed further up the mountain we could being to see through the trees and to the mountains that surrounded us...

Along the mountainside there were also small caves like this one dug into the rock where shrines have been placed. This is just one of around 7 or 8 that we saw. However, there were likely more that were more hidden that we did not see... As it was Buddha's birthday, there were also offerings of fruit and rice cakes, traditional foods given to Korean children on their first birthdays.

These small Buddha trinkets were also scattered along the mountainside in hundreds of little nooks in the rock.

Here is a closer image of the mountainside Buddha and the shrine built at the base. On this day it's expected that you visit each temple site as well as this shrine and bow in honor of Buddha.

A close-up of this amazing site:

The obligatory vista shot. The beauty truly cannot be captured though...

This is the main temple seen from above along the mountainside.

And here's another view atop a hillside opposite the mountain.

This was shot during the sunmudo martial arts/folk art demonstration. The hats these performers are wearing have poles connected to them that spin 360 degrees which also have ribbons attached to the ends. The result is that as they bob their heads the ribbons spin and dance along with the music. The man on the far right is wearing a hat made of very large but light feathers that resembles a blooming flower when he moves his head. Absolutely breathtaking performance!

These men are practicing sunmudo, a type of martial arts with originated at this temple. It combines Buddhist meditation with flowing martial arts moves. These are some deadly Buddhist monks!

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