Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of Busan. This superb attraction offers visitors the rare find of a temple along the shore line; most temples in Korea are located in the mountains. Haedong Yonggungsa Temple was first built in 1376 by the great Buddhist teacher known as Naong during the Goryeo Dynasty. Haesu Gwaneum Daebul (Seawater Great Goddess Buddha), Daeungjeon Main Sanctuary, Yongwangdang Shrine, Gulbeop Buddhist Sanctum (enclosed in a cave), and a three-story pagoda with four lions can all be seen looking out over the ocean.
History of the temple
The motto of Haedong Yonggung temple is “At least one of your wishes will be answered here through your heartful prayers.” The sea has been with human-being in history from long time ago. It was very calm sometimes while furious sometimes. The Haedong Yonggung temple is situated near the sea unlike other temples located in mountains, therefore it’s quite reasonable to call this temple an aquatic Buddhist sanctum.
They say that the Great Goddess Buddha of mercy in the sea lives alone at a solitary near the sea and appears on the back of a dragon. That’s why the Korean’s worship of the Great Goddess Buddha was formed near the sea or on the island, and this Haedong Yonggung temple is one of 3 Sacred Places related to the Goddess Buddha. This temple preserves religious concept deeper than that of any other temple ever as the sea, dragon and the Great Goddess Buddha embody a harmony here.
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The main sanctuary of the temple was reconstructed in 1970 with careful attention paid to the colors that were traditionally used in such structures. On the right-hand side, inside the a cave, is a uniquely designed Buddhist sanctum, while situated just in front of the main sanctuary is a three-story pagoda with four lions. The four lions are symbolizing joy, anger, sadness, and happiness. Other special sites at the temple are the 108 stairs and stone lanterns lining the rocky landscape. After going down the 108 steps, one will be delighted with the beauty of the temple. Midway down the 108 steps one can stop and enjoy the calming sounds of the waves, and view the majestic sunrise.
Many people often come to this spot on New Year’s Day to make a wish for the new year as they watch the sun come up. April is an especially beautiful time of year with cherry blossoms in full bloom. The birth of Buddha is also celebrated in the fourth month of the lunar calendar and offers a spectacular night view as the temple area is aglow with lit lanterns.