- Summary and history
Bulgapsa in the Moak Mountains (Bulgap Mountain: height 515.9m) is said to have been established by Monk Marananto, who is believed to have travelled from Dongjin, China, and to have introduced Buddhism to Beakje, in 384 A.D. (the first year of King Chimryu's reign), or believed to have been established by Most Reverend Priest Gapjin with Dogapsa and Bondgapsa. It is believed that Bulgapsa is primary among them, therefore, the name 'Bulgap' was given to this temple. Marananta's temple construction style was to superimpose pagoda stories on the dragonhead of the main Buddha hall evenly, and from the remaining superimposed stories of the main Buddha hall of Bulgapsa it can be assumed that it is related to Marananta. Though Record of Bulgapsa and Record of Restoring Bulgapsa written by Hang Kang (pen name: Su Eun), the epitaph of Most Reverenced Priest Gakjin written by Koryeo's Hak-Sa Lee (pen name: Ik Je) said that Buddhist Priest Gakjin restored it in 1277. Also, he said that the temple had 500 partitions for large temples, 70 Buddhist nunneries, 400 Nangchal and 90 Nogo; and the sermon hall could hold several hundred people.
In 1597, the temple was destroyed during to the Second Japanese Invasion, except for Temple Jeonilam. In the same year, Esteemed Priest Gaebeopneung restored it to the scale of five sanctums, 11 temples and 12 Amdang. Esteemed Priest Haeneung built three-compartmented main entrances for the fifth; enlarged to five compartments in 1634; and repaired and enlarged to seven compartments in 1635. In less than 50 years, Esteemed Priest Chaeeun supervised the rebuilding of 500 to 600 destroyed compartments including Gongjeon, Bangsa, Jeryo and Sanam etc; in 1695, it was repaired; in 1765, Esteemed Priest Cheongbong repaired; in 1870, Esteemed Priest Seoldu repaired; in 1938, Esteemed Priest Muin restored and renovated to the current appearance.
- Temple scenery
Once at the temple, the Gate of the four Guardians is seen first. This Four Guardian statue was made in Temple Yeonggi, which was established by Most Reverend Doseon, located in Heungdeok, Jeollabuk-do, and transferred to Bulgapsa by Esteemed Priest Seoldu and enshrined. This artwork in unique within Korea. While Esteemed Priest Seoldu repaired Bulgapsain 1870 and Temple Yeonji was closed, it was delivered to Bulgapsa.
The main Buddha hall (Tangible Cultural Property No. 830) is a Dapokye style building having a gambrel roof with three bays on the front and three bays on the side, and shows a very splendid style. Granite was layered about 80cm to build the foundation; the front face was laid from the fixed center, and the foundation stone was faced smoothly rather than using rough-hewn or natural stone. The column was twisted from the lower part shaft (60cm). It is Duhong style structure. Three tiered brackets are installed outside while four brackets are installed inside the building. Square timbers are laid on Changbang. In the center bay, the headpiece on the column was ornamented with a dragonhead. The mid part of the eave line of the gambrel roof is sunken. The goblin shaped column adds gravity. Highly characteristic is the frame of the paper sliding door where lotus and chrysanthemum designs are delicately carved.
Besides, the four articles in Buddhism, which are a bell (to save human beings in the infernal regions), a Dharma bell (to save human beings in the air), a gong (to save human beings in the heavens) and a water fish (to save human beings in the water), remain in the temple. Hall of the Kings of the Hells, the Hall of the Eight Paintings of Sakyamunis's Life and Ilgwangdang building remain and Haebulam and Sudoam remain. Neolitsea sericea, Natural Monument No. 112, inside the temple adds charm to the temple scenery.
- Travel to Bulgap Mountain
Bulgap Mountain has a dense forest with neolitsea sericea and herb of longing.
The summit, Yeonsil Peak commands a view of the sea to the west. In sunset it is magnificent and it is considered to have superb views at sunrise from Mt. Toham where Bulguksa is located.
[Mountain hiking trail guide]
> Parking lot-Yeonsil mountain villa-Nabalbong-Yongcheonbong-Moak Mountain-Gusu Ridge-Bulgap Mountain-Norumok-Janggunbong-Beopseongbong-Nojekbong-Deok Ridge-Bulgapsa-Parking lot (6㎞, 4hour)
> Parking lot-Bulgapsa-Gusu Ridge-Bulgap Mountain-Noru Ridge-Janggunbong-Beopseongbong-Nojeokbong-Deok Ridge-Bulgapsa-Parking lot (3.5㎞, 2hours)
> Parking lot-Temple Bulgap-Noru Ridge-Janggunbong-Beopseongbong-Nojeokbong-Deok Ridge-Bulgapsa-Parking lot (2㎞, 1hour)
> Can hold 200 vehicles (Parking is free)
[Traffic guide ]
1) By car
> Seoul - Honam Highway - Jangseong IC - National Road No. 24 (to Hampyeong) - Munjangri Crossroad (to the right) - National Road No. 22 (to Yeonggwang) - Samhakri three-way junction (to the left) - Three-way junction of the entrance of Bulgap Mountain- Bulgapsa
> Seoul - Seohaean Highway - Yeonggwang I.C - to Yeonggwang (National Road No. 23) - Yeonggwang-eup (National Road No. 22) - Samhakli three-way junction (to the left) - Three-way junction of the entrance of Bulgap Mountain - Bulgapsa
> Gwangju (National Road No. 22, to Yeonggwang) - Samhakri three-way junction (to the left) - Three-way junction of the entrance of Bulgap Mountain- Bulgapsa
Take a local bus to Bulgapsa at Yeonggwang Cross-country bus terminal (82-61-351-3379) (20minutes)
Take a bus to Mokpo via Hampyung from Yeonggwang
Get off at Bulgap-myeon. Take a taxi to Bulgapsa. (3.4km)
[Neighboring tourism sites]
Bulgap reservoir park, Naesan auditorium, Won Buddhism sacred site, Arrival place of Beakje Buddhism, Baeksu Coast Highway
#8 Moak-ri, Bulgap-myeon, Yeonggwang County, Jeollanam-do