Tuesday, April 26, 2011

청평사: Chongpyongsa Temple, Chuncheon

The first stop on our day trip to Chuncheon was the temple 청평사, Chongpyongsa. From town, it was a half an hour bus ride up a mountain, past a dam, another 10 minute boat ride and a 20 minute hike. But don't let that stop you from getting here, it's not as bad as it sounds. Just be warned that there's a lot of people that go here on the weekends now that the Seoul subway runs to Chuncheon. When we got on the bus downtown it was nearly empty, and when it passed the subway station, it looked like the above photo, wall to wall people.

Then it was on to the boat port where we caught our boat to 정평사, which was 6,000 won round trip.

From there it was another hike through the woods. Nothing strenuous, so don't worry if you're not a hiker. As you can see, it was decorated for Buddha's Birthday which is coming up on May 10th (April 8th on the lunar calendar). 

Here was a statue dedicated to the story of a Chinese princess. The story goes as such: There was a man who was deeply in love with a princess in China. Because the man was a commoner, he could not marry her and he died of a broken heart. He was reborn, though, as a snake, and he wound himself around the princess and attached himself to her. The princess's attendants tried as they might to free her from the snake's grasp, but they could not, the snake would not budge. The princess was forced to live with a snake attached to her. She went from temple to temple trying to find someone that could release the snake from her body. Finally she came to Chongpyongsa temple. Here, she said to the snake, "I'm tired, let's take a rest." and the snake unwound itself from her for the first time since it had attached itself. The princess washed and went into the temple leaving the snake behind. A storm broke out and the snake worried about the princess. It climbed up the mountain but as soon as it entered the temple it was struck by lightning and was killed. Its body washed down into this river and the princess found it later. She felt both relived to be released from the snake, but also felt pity for the snake that loved her so much. She stayed at the temple and and commissioned the construction of a pagoda at the temple.

The hike up is quite beautiful and you pass some great sights along the short hike up to the temple. 

Here is the front gate to the temple. The gate in the middle is called Heojeonmun and has been designated as Cultural Treasure #164. 

This is the best time of year to visit temples as they're full of lanterns in preparation for Buddha's Birthday. 

How to get here: Take bus #11 or 12 to 소양댐 So Yang Dam, which is one of the largest dams in Korea, located about half an hour from downtown Chuncheon. From here walk down the hill to the boat dock where you can buy a round trip boat ticket for 6,000 won. Be sure to purchase the boat for 정평사 (Chongpyongsa) because there are other boats that depart from this dock as well. The boat ride is about 10 minutes and from there just follow the the other tourists up the hill until you reach the temple. During peak tourist viewing times, boats run often, about every 10-15 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating story behind the temple. Great find!