Guinsa Temple

The jars are all fermenting bean paste wating to be used in stew

GUINSA TEMPLE or as it is known “Temple of Salvation and Kindness”, is in the YEONHWA area of the SOBAEK MOUNTAINS located near Danyang, South Korea.  It is the headquarters of the CHEONTAE SCHOOL of Korean Buddhism.  GUINSA is the administrative centre of over 140 sub-temples and hermitages of the sect.


GUINSA, at 70 years, is young for a major religious site.  It was founded in the final year of the Japanese Occupation as a “lone hut”, but it quickly became a destination for pilgrims and tourists alike.  Now the “towering complex” fills a valley.


Although the architecture of GUINSA follows that of many other Buddhist Temples, in Korea, it is also markedly different in that the structure is several storeys tall, instead of the typical two-storey structures that many other Korean Temples have.  This may be due to the restraints of the valley in which it is located and to modern construction techniques, but it creates a visual experience that is both beautiful and unique from what one sees at other temples.  The ubiquitous black slate roof tiles, found commonly on Korean Temple, is occasionally replaced by “orange glazed tiles”, reminding one of those seen on the roofs of Beijing’s FORBIDDEN CITY.  Some buildings resemble the POTALA PALACE, in Lhasa, with their use of height and vertical lines.


Up to 10,000 monks can live here at any given time, while the kitchen can serve food for twice that number.  The Temple operates and maintains a large farm system covering over 60,000pyeong and provides much of the food prepared and consumed at the temple.  Massive earthenware pots fill the kitchen courtyard ——-,  there is soy sauce, fermented beans and red pepper paste.  The monks grow and preserve all their own food, from cabbage to chestnuts.  Traditional staples like fermented soy, marinated sesame leaves and kimchi stretch the gaps between harvests.  Inside the kitchen, there is a cement horseshoe lined with massive cauldrons.  Each holds enough rice for 500 or soup for 3,000.  The food is simple vegetarian fare : rice and kimchi, soybean soup and roast potatoes.  Sharing food is integral.  Food is an expression of community.

Guinsa temple closeup

Unlike many of Korea’s Temples, GUINSA TEMPLE is fairly new.  The Temple is strikingly located squeezed into a narrow valley surrounded on all sides by mountains like the petals of a lotus.  Its location was decreed by head monk SANGWOL WONGAK’S interpretation of the LOTUS SUTRA.  The original Temple was burned down during the Korean War, but the reconstruction of the first building was completed in 1966 and the complex, which now incorporates over 50 buildings, is still expanding.


GUINSA can only be covered on foot, and its quite a hike uphill from the bus terminal to the top.  The area is large and it is best to arrive early and reserve at least a few hours for exploring the complex.  The complex consists of 50 buildings, most of them built in modern style from concrete, but with opulent decorations  The bus terminal is housed in a temple-style building at the bottom of the valley.  Some of the notable structures here are :

Four heavenly kings gate Guinsa temple

(1) The FOUR HEAVENLY KINGS’ GATE, is a two-storey stone structure containing the statues of the Four Heavenly Kings, marking the start of the Temple complex.

The Great Teacher Hall Guinsa temple

(2) The GREAT TEACHER HALL.  A shrine erected  in memory of SANGWOL WONGAK, a statue of whom can be found inside.

Dharma Law hall Guinsa temple

(3) The FIVE-STOREY DHARMA LAW HALL, completed in 1980, is reportedly one of the largest temple buildings in Korea, and like so many other buildings in the Temple complex, is elaborate both in terms of painting and structural design.  The 1st and 2nd floors contain meditation halls for the monks.  The 3rd and 4th have “shrine rooms” for devotees wishing to offer prayers.  The 5th floor contains the huge DHARMA HALL, housing a large gilded altar of the main Buddha SHAKYAMUNI, Supreme Buddha of the present, flanked by his attendants.  On the left sits AVALOKITESVARA (BODDHISATVA of Compassion) and on the right side site MAHASTHAMAPRAPTA (BODDHSATVA of Wisdom).  A unique THANGKA, behind the Buddha, is a painted raised wood carving.

Cafeteria hall Guinsa temple

(4) The CAFETERIA HALL contains the huge kitchen and large temple cafeteria where the contents of the pots are served up for breakfast, lunch and dinner.


(5) CENTRAL COURTYARD.  Check out the huge clay pots located on seemingly every available surface : these are the Temple’s storehouses of kimchi.

Guinsa Three Story Stone Pagoda sits in front of the main sanctuary housing the sarira of the Buddha.  The tree elephants supporting the base of the pagoda symbolize the buddha's Dharma.  Guinsa, located near Danyang in Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea, has architecture following that of many other Buddhist temples in Korea, but is also markedly different in that the structures are several stories tall, instead of the typical one or two stories that structures found in many other Korean temples.

Guinsa Three Story Stone Pagoda sits in front of the main sanctuary housing the sarira of the Buddha. The tree elephants supporting the base of the pagoda symbolize the buddha’s Dharma. Guinsa, located near Danyang in Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea, has architecture following that of many other Buddhist temples in Korea, but is also markedly different in that the structures are several stories tall, instead of the typical one or two stories that structures found in many other Korean temples.

(6) The THREE-STOREY STONE PAGODA, located in front of the main sanctuary is a “reliquary” housing the SARIRA of the Buddha brought back from the monastery of the JETAVANA in India.  3 elephants support the base of the Pagoda and these strong, intelligent animals symbolize the Buddha’s Dharma.

Guinsa temple mountain view

Once the largest and most powerful of Korea’s 18 schools, CHEONTAE, gradually lost popularity over the years and disappeared completely for some time, but was re-established in 1945 by SANGWOL WONGAK and now commands a respectable 2million followers.  CHEONTAE posits the following mind-bending truths : ** All things are empty and without essential reality.  ** All things have a provisional reality.  ** All things are both absolutely unreal and provisionally real at once.
GUINSA is well-placed to take full advantage of Korea’s seasons, with warm temperatures, in summer, and heavy snow in winter and is open all year round.  However, the most popular time of the year to visit is autumn (Sept.-Nov.), when the mountainsides burst into dramatic fall colours.

Super cool dos at Jeju Island

(1) The ATV : Get your Batman on and indulge in cool edgy rides while at Jeju.  Skid along as you get set to break allowed limits and be a total badass.
(2) Horse Riding : Get on those handsome horses and race with the wind.  Take in some fresh air and adventure to experience the magic of Jeju.  Giddy up !!
(3) Find Nemo : Hah, kidding.  Visit the Aqua Planet and say “Aenyonggg” to the fishies.  Take pictures of them and have a super entertaining time.
(4) Rock n’Roll : Sand castles are so last decade. Be innovative, and make cool rock structures.  get that arty genius out and pull off a Picasso.
060551_110901015106(5) Just Chill : Take some time off to, well, do nothing.  Just pick a cool spot and laze around, enjoying the surroundings.  Sometimes, all it takes is to do nothing and chillax.  Planning is so over-rated, no?
(6) Check how close you are to being Superman : Come on and box, box, and box some more as Jeju helps you find out how strong you are.
(7) Drive your own yacht : You get to feel like a total king.  Drive your own ‘luxury yacht’ and soak in all the glory.  That is cooool.
(8) Gorge On : No matter how much you love travelling, some corner of your heart always wants Ghar ka khana.  So, dig into some delicious Indian food while in Jeju.  Our personal favourite — The Baghdad Café.
(9) Finally jump around a little and see the scenic backdrops which you will find in bulk.  You know that a perfect picture is always the cherry on the cake, after a mind-blowing trip.
—— NDTV Goodtimes  

Nature’s most spectacular shows

Here are a few of Nature’s most spectacular shows :-


(1) AWASH IN LIGHT : —-Bio-luminescence in the tide makes walking along the beach on VAADHOO ISLAND in the Maldives especially magical.  The light is emitted from tiny PLANKTON in the water. 


(2) MILLIONS OF FLAPPING WINGS :—-The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico’s MICHOAOAN State is a winter home to tens of millions of butterflies. 


(3) POLAR FLASHES :—-The AURORA BOREALIS lights up the night sky in LOFOTEN, Norway.  The spectacular shows occur when charged particles from the solar wind interact with the Earth’s atmosphere at the magnetic poles. 


(4) A DELICATE DISPLAY :—-CHERRY BLOSSOMS usher in spring in Jinhae in Changwon City, South Korea.  The city’s Cherry Blossom Festival is South Korea’s largest. 


(5) THE THAW :—-The cracking of mammoth chunks of ice in Alaska’s GLACIER BAY is a SIGHT-&-SOUND to behold. 


(6) NATURAL FIREWORKS :—-Mount Yasur puts on fiery displays on TANNA ISLAND in Vanuatu. 


(7) MEETING THE LOCALS :—-Sometimes nature and man-made endeavours overlap as is the case of the GALTAJI TEMPLE complex, near Jaipur, India.  One of the temples is known as MONKEY TEMPLE after the area’s resident monkey tribes. 


(8) ART OF FLOWERS :—-From March through May, millions of tulips draw visitors to KEUKENHOF GARDENS near Lisse, Netherlands. 


(9) THRILL OF THE CHASE :—-At Alaska’s KATMAI NATIONAL PARK, a brown bear grapples with his slippery dinner.  The SOCKEYE SALMON run starts here in late June and the bears come out for dinner. 


(10) PLUMBING MALFUNCTION :—-Yellowstone National Park’s GEYSERS are a result of subterranean plumbing constrictions and water heated by MAGMA under the Earth’s surface.  

Image: Zebras and wildebeests migrate across the Serengeti in late August

(11) RACE FOR SURVIVAL :—-WILDEBEAST (gnu) cross the MASAI MARA RIVER in Kenya.  More than a million travel between Tanzania and Kenya, each year, during the GREAT MIGRATION in search of food, water and breeding grounds. 

Meteor Shower

(12) SUMMER ROTATION :—-A meteor streaked past the MILKY WAY GALAXY above the Wyoming countryside during the 2013 PERSEID METEOR SHOWER.  The show happens each summer, when Earth rotates through debris from the SWIFT-TUTTLE COMET. 

Victoria Falls Wallpaper

(13) WALL OF WATER:—-VICTORIA FALLS on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border, is the world’s largest SHEET OF FALLING WATER.


(14) FISH TORNADO :—-SIPADAN ISLAND, in Malaysia, is home to a huge school of BARRACUDA, often seen in a swirling VORTEX FORMATION. 


(15) TIME TO FLY :—- 100’s of 1000’s of SANDHILL CRANES migrate each year, and many gather in early spring on the PLATTE RIVER in Nebraska.


Did you know?

(1) In 1518, there was a mass PSYCHOGENIC ILLNESS in Strasbourg, Alsace, that caused people to dance till they collapsed. 

Monkey-Man(2) MONKEYMAN (Jyothi Raj), a 24year old, conquered JOG FALLS (850ft) on 6/4/2013.  He has climed the JOG FALLS eight times, and climbing it is almost PASSE for him. 

The earlier heights he has scaled are :

(a) THE YANA, Uttara Karnataka District. 



(d) A building in JYOTHI CIRCLE, next to DVS TOWERS in Mangalore. 

(3) On April 17, 1963, a baby was born drunk (London) and 12 hours later had a hangover.  this was reported by Doctor Basil Merriman, in a letter to the BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL.  For 2 months, before the baby was born, its mother, a YUKON, Canadian Indian, had been almost continuously drunk. 

(4) Cats have no naturally occurring antibodies against dog’s blood.  So, they can receive DOG BLOOD in life-threatening situations.  BUT, ONLY ONCE.  The 2nd time PROVES FATAL. 


(5) DUBAI COPS get world’s most expensive patrol car —-360,000 Pound LAMBORGHINI AVENTADOR.  It has a top speed of 217m.p.h. and can go from 0 to 62m.p.h. in 2.9secs.

(6) Singing Nun—–ANI CHOYING DROLMA from Nepal(42yrs. old) has sung a fusion song ZARIYA ( composer–A.R.Rehman)  Her 1st album, CHO, was in 1997.  She founded the NAGI GOMPA NUNNERY in Nepal’s Shivapuri (a paradise) and joined it when she was 10 years old. 


(7) The 1st INVISIBLE TOWER in Seoul———–South Korea —TOWER INFINITY, 450m. high, glass-encased sky-scraper —-using LED lighting and cameras to create a REFLECTIVE SKIN on its exterior, which will make it look as IF IT HAS DISAPPEARED.  The world’s 3rd highest OBSERVATION DECK (at 392m) is here. 

(8) Author, Mark Twain, was born shortly after a visit by HALEY’S COMET in 1835, and he predicted that he would go out with it, too.  He died the day after the Comet’s return in 1910. 

(9) CONGO is sub-Sahara Africa’s largest country, and one of its richest ON PAPER, with an embarrassment of DIAMONDS, GOLD, COBALT, COPPER, TIN, TANTALUM —you name it—TRILLIONS WORTH OF NATURAL RESOURCES.——————–——–But, because of never-ending war, it is one of the POOREST & MOST TRAUMATISED NATIONS in the world……………MILITIA-COTROLLED MINES I Eastern Congo have been feeding raw materials into the WORLD’S BIGGEST ELECTRONICS & JEWELLERY COMPANIES, at the same time FEEDING CHAOS.—————–Congo is a PARADOX of GRINDING POVERTY in a land of BOUNDLESS MINERAL WEALTH. 

(10) In the early days of TYPESET PRINTING, printers would often use WOODEN DRAWERS to store the alphabets.  The drawers would be on two racks.  What was stored in the UPPER RACK ?—A B C D…………What was stored in the LOWER RACK ?—a b c d ……..