On my second full day in Busan I started my sightseeing at Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, the city’s most famous temple. Haedong Yonggungsa (which roughly translates to “dragon palace temple”) is way out at the east end of Busan and depending on where you are starting from in the city it can potentially take a long time to get there. To reach the temple I rode the metro to Haeundae Station and then transferred to a bus that dropped me off by the road that leads up to it. Once I reached the parking lot I walked through a short shopping street and past a line of zodiac statues before arriving at a stone pagoda and the stairs down to the temple. The pagoda has a car wheel at its base and apparently people pray at it to avoid car accidents.
Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is fairly unique in Korea in that it’s built right next to the sea, whereas most other Buddhist temples in Korea are either up in the mountains or at least some distance back from the ocean. The temple’s location makes for really scenic photos, particularly in the morning when the sun is brightly illuminating the temple buildings.
After getting some photos from the little peninsula next to the temple I crossed the stone bridge over to the temple complex. Haedong Yonggungsa was founded in 1376 and was originally named Bomun Temple but in the late 1500s it was destroyed during the Japanese invasion of Korea. For hundreds of years the temple lay in ruins until the 1930s when reconstruction began and in 1974 it was officially renamed Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. The exteriors and interiors of the various temples halls are intricately decorated with dragon carvings, paper lanterns, golden statues, and highly detailed paintings. In a couple of the temple halls I also caught sight of monks practicing their chants.
A flight of steep stairs leads up to a spot with a view of the temple below. There’s a large white Buddhist statue up there and I believe it is Gwanseum-bosal, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, but I could be wrong about that.
Back in the central part of the temple I went down into a small underground shrine. There are some nice dragon candles in there by the offertory box.
Near Haedong Yonggungsa’s main hall you can also find some interesting statues. Right next to the main hall is a statue of Maitreya Buddha (aka the Fat Buddha) who can be recognized by his jolly facial expression and rotund physique. Near Maitreya is a dragon carrying small statues of monks. A few steps from the dragon are a pair of golden pigs that are said to bring good fortune.