One cannot talk about Korean culture and religion without acknowledging the impact that Buddhism has had. People from all walks of life (monks and non-Buddhists) can be seen enjoying the peacefulness of Buddhist temple sites. Not only in Daegu, but all over the country you can see hundreds (possibly thousands?) of Buddhist temples and statues with each site priding itself for its own history, individuality, and charm. If you’re up for it you can even try doing a temple stay experience. If you haven’t heard of this place then you’re definitely in for a treat as it is home to one of the world’s largest standing stone Buddha statues.
Donghwasa is more than just a temple
Located deep in the woods of Palgong Mountain, this is more
of a cultural complex that’s concentrated on keeping Buddhism traditions alive
and flourishing. Founded in 493 by a monk named Geukdal, it was originally
named Yukasa Temple. It wasn’t until 832 that it was changed to Donghwasa by
royal monk Simji after illustrious foxglove trees flourished around the temple
all year round, even in the coldest of winter. Later on, it became one of the
three renowned temples of the Beopsang Order of Korean Buddhism.
A set of two flag poles called ‘dangganju’ was built at the end of the Unified Silla Kingdom. Whenever special events or ceremonies were held at temples, flags were hung on the top to inform the people. In addition, they were also used to mark territory.
While most monuments like these used a turtle for the base, Donghwasa had a high admiration for the Phoenix. It isn’t seen the photo, but the base of this small structure is apparently the shape of one.
Even for people who don’t practice religion, it is fascinating to see how Buddhism has cultivated Korean culture for more than 1000 years. Every piece of Donghwasa from the group of stupas to the engraved rock have all played their part in keeping the Buddhist spirit breathing.
1 Donghwasa 1-gil, Gongsan-dong, Dong-gu, Daegu, South Korea