Boriam Hermitage in Namhae: A Visitor’s Guide
I have visited many temples around South Korea and Boriam Hermitage in Namhae is definitely one that I will never forget. The temple located in Hallyeohaesang National Marine Park is one of the most unique and beautiful temples in South Korea. If you are visiting Namhae, be sure to drop by Boriam Hermitage while you are there. You won’t regret it.
How To Get There
Address: 665 Boriam-ro, Sangju-myeon, Namhae-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do
By Bus: There are two parking lots at Boriam. The first one is located at the foot of the mountain so you will have to hike up to the temple if you park here or take the shuttle bus. If you don’t want to hike, I recommend heading up to the second parking lot. From there, you only have about an easy 15-minute walk to the temple.
Tip: The second parking lot fills up very early, especially on weekends. I recommend arriving between 7 and 8 AM to secure a spot here.
By Bus: Take the Namhae-Bokgok bus from Namhae Joint Terminal and get off at Hallyeohaesang National Marine Park and walk to the entrance of Boriam Hermitage. This trip takes approximately 40 minutes.
Hours: 8:00am ~ 6:00pm
Admission: Individuals – Adults 1,000 won
Groups (30 people and more) – Adults 800 won
History of Boriam Hermitage
The hermitage was founded in 683 by the leading thinker of Korean Buddhism, Great Master Wonhyo. He allegedly lived at the temple in complete solitude and away from all worldly pleasures.
It is said that King Taejo spent 100 days praying at Boriam Hermitage to seek guidance to sufficiently lead his new kingdom before starting the Joseon Dynasty. Due to this, he later gave the temple its name and the surrounding mountain the name Geumsan.
Today, Boriam is known as one of the most prestigious prayer spots in Korea.
What You’ll See
What makes Boriam Hermitage a must-see in Namhae are the spectacular views from the temple complex. More specifically, the views from the Manbul-jeon Hall are the most impressive, and people even line up to take the instagrammable shot looking out into the Namhae islets from this point.
Boriam Hermitage is divided into an upper and a lower section, separated by a flight of stairs. Most of the buildings are located in the upper section, whereas the lower section is just as impressive. Here, you will find a tall, slender statue dedicated to the Buddha of Mercy, as well as a three-story stone pagoda of great historical importance.
Entering the hermitage grounds, you will find Wontong-jeon Hall on your right. The exterior walls of this hall are decorated with paintings of the Bodhisattva of the Afterlife.
However, the most important feature here is tangible cultural property number 575: a miniature wooden shrine with a seated statue of Gwanseeum-bosal on a red silk pillow. This statue represents the Buddha of infinite compassion and mercy.
It is believed that this type of miniature shrine was popular from the 17th to 19th centuries. This particular shrine seems to have been made in the 17th century due to the typical characteristics of the appearance of a Buddha from this time period.
Jong-ru (Bell Pavilion)
The bell pavilion is smaller compared to the ones at other temples but equally as important. You can follow a small path towards a beautiful white Buddha statue inside a small grotto in the rocks on the right of this pavilion.
Come back to Jong-ru and take the stairs to its left down to a ledge where you will find a beautiful slender statue and the famous three-story stone pagoda.
Three-Story Stone Pagoda
While the Goddess of Mercy statue is probably the first thing you will notice on this ledge looking out into the South Sea, the three-story stone pagoda is much older and of great significance.
The pagoda is situated to the statue’s right and is 2.3m tall. It consists of a two-tiered base, three sets of body and roof stones, and a round decorative top.
According to a legend, this pagoda was brought to Korea from India by Heo Hwang-ok (? – 188), the queen of King Suro who founded a Gaya tribal state.
Another legend says that the Great Master Wonhyo erected the pagoda during the Silla period (around 600 AD).
However, more recent research indicates that the pagoda fits much better into the characteristics of the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) based on the thickness of the roof stones.
Boriam Ramyeon Restaurant
Following the trail towards the peak of Geumsan Mountain, there is a small restaurant called 금산산장. Even though this place only serves cup noodles, it’s become super popular due to the spectacular views over the mountains and south coast.
Where to stay in Namhae
Great Hotels near Boriam
If you are planning to stay overnight near Boriam in Namhae, there are a couple of great options to choose from.
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