Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mt. Palgong - Songnimsa Temple

By: Asif Quadri

Date: July, 2012

Terrain: All uphill the further into Mt Palgong but relatively easy downhill on return.

Difficulty: 2.5 - difficult going / easy return

Trail/Path Conditions: Heading north from Chilgok, Daegu you are mixed in with heavy traffic on an industrial highway. Once you turn into Mt Palgong the traffic gets lighter and there are bike paths.

Things to see: An abundance of temples, natural scenery

Places to eat: Restaurants close to motel district

Getting there : Mt Palgong runs the entire northern length of the city of Daegu. It can be accessed from either Chilgok/Dongmyeong at the western end (buses 427, 527, 730, rapid 3). The eastern end has more famous temples Gatbawi and Donghwasa (buses 401, 101, rapid 1)

My Story
Originally posted and adapted from:

As I'm moving out of my neighbourhood in a couple of weeks I decided to bike north into Gyeonguk Province and Dongmyeong which I haven't visited the entire time I've lived here. I heard there was a nice temple along the Mount Palgong trail I wanted to check out.

 Biking to Mount Palgong

I live on the northern end of Chilgok and biking north a few minutes I reached the city limits and the sign markers for the start of Gyeongbuk province.  

Entering Gyeongsangbuk-do
Heading north for another few kilometers the road becomes a country highway. Its not the best place to go biking as the traffic was quite fast and there were many entranceways to industrial yards. However, the main turning to the temple was only about a kilometer away so I was able to avoid the traffic from there on

Signpost to Temple 
Signpost to the temple

Scenic mountain road

The turn off road had a signpost describing it as one of koreas most beautiful routes. The Mount Palgong trail runs east-west across the city for about 30 kms and it does have many scenic spots. I had wanted to come to see the cherry blossoms but came too early before they were in bloom.

Start of Mountain Road 
Start of mountain road
Temple in the distance

Heading to the temple there is a large reservoir and a ship restaurant along the roadside. You then come off the main road to a side road and follow it a short way to the temple.

Scenic Resevoir
The temple was quite near to the turning off the main road. I keep hearing from friends that they don't want to see "just another temple" but this proved to be yet another interesting find, different from all the other Mount Palgong Temples.

The complex had a large brick stupa in the centre lawn, buildings on either side of the rectangular lawn, and some outer buildings. The main building was undergoing some exterior restoration work.

Inside the main large building there were three large seated gold buddhas. At one end of the hall one wall was a large unpainted wood carving with many faces and lots of detailed etchings

Large Wood Carving

There was another colourful building facing the centre lawn which had some surprises. This building housed life-size painted wood figures. I've seen them before about 2ft high but this was the first time seeing them life-size. There was also bell tower painted in great detail. It had a large bell, drum, and a hanging dragon which is hollowed out and used for tapping from the inside.

 Bell Tower
I then discovered another building which I named the 1000 Buddha hall. Behind the three large gold Buddhas were rows of identical smaller Buddhas set on an incline ascending up to the roof. It was quite an impressive sight and how the temples in Taiwan and Vietnam were to give a distorted perspective of infinity.

1000 Buddha Chamber

Heading back was much faster as I sped down the incline I had to bike up to get here. The ship restaurant takes you back to the main road and reservoir

 Country lane back
I've driven past this reservoir a few times when we came in this area for school dinners so this was the first time to see it slowly up close.

House on the lake

Back on the main highway heading south I passed by an interesting country house and roadside tombs. I then made it back inside Daegu City Limits and headed home.

This article was printed on the Daegu Blogsite

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