Saturday, March 30, 2013
Inwangsan, March 2013
One of my favorite places to visit on a tired weekend used to be Inwangsan, a small mountain just west of the main palace in Seoul.
It's an interesting place since after Buddhism was banished from the city during the Joseon Dynasty, a few of the temples relocated here, forming a clustered community of temples divided by a labyrinth of narrow alleys and stairways, clinging to the side of the granite slope.
Eunbong and I visited Inwangsan for the first time together recently, and though we didn't make it any further up the mountains than the temples, it was nice to go back to a place that was once very familiar. We did manage to make it up to Seon Bawi (Zen Rock), which is supposed to resemble two seated monks. I'm not sure if I see them when I look, but it is undeniably one of the more interesting rock formations I've encountered, which, wether or not I see two monks, makes it worthy of at least three bows!
If we'd continued just a short way up, there is a cute looking ancient Buddha low-relief carving in the granite, where there was always at least a few shamans performing rituals. The absence of their clanging gongs was noticeable, though, and Eunbong told me there was a sign saying that shamanistic rituals were no longer permitted. What ever the reason may be, I hope that it's not for the sake of the apartment block that has sprung up next to the mountain, nearly eye level with the temples. Impermanence or not, it would be a shame, in my opinion. The short hike also has some great views of old Seoul, especially around sunset, when the city lights start shining.
Next week, I dig out some older photos from previous visits.