Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Namsan, Chilbulam 칠불암
Considering I've spent most of my 8 years in Korea searching out famous, and not so famous, temples, it's quite odd that until not long ago, I'd never taken a hike into the hills of Namsan, a small mountain south of downtown Gyeongju, famous for being littered with ancient Silla dynasty stone Buddhas, pagodas, and long ago temple sites.
On a spectacularly clear morning in November, I picked up Patrick, my co-worker, and we made our way to Namsan.
After getting on the trail, it was a short hike straight up to the most famous site on the mountain, Chilbulam, Seven Buddha Hermitage, with a trio of stone carved Buddhas sits facing a square stone with a Buddha carved on each face.
Though there are hundreds more Buddhas on the mountain, that ended up being all we came across up close, as we apparently headed up the wrong side of the mountain, as far as stoned Buddhas are concerned, but we did find a few enormous pagodas, including the famous one overlooking the valley.
The hike along the ridge was inspiring, though the peak itself was nothing to write about. On the way down, we did spotting a large Buddha far up the slope, hidden well through the pine trees. I was just able to get a clear view of it with a 300mm lens.The only reason I spotted it at all was because there was an information panel that seemed randomly placed on the trail other than I figured there must be something there to look out for.
I'm hoping I get at least a couple more chances to visit the mountain. The west side of the mountain is supposed to have the highest concentration of carving. We hiked the south.
I'll let the photos do the est of the explaining now...