Magok-sa

Temple in Gongju

Magok-sa has had its buildings restored and reconstructed through the years, but unlike most temples, its extant buildings are being allowed to age gracefully, and there are several atmospheric halls, stumpy pagodas and pavilions. The elaborate entry gates feature colourful statues of various deities and bodhisattvas. Cross the ‘mind-washing bridge’ to reach the main hall, behind which stands a rare two-storey prayer hall, Daeungbojeon. The temple is located in a pretty setting 24km outside Gongju.

From Magok-sa, three hiking trails head up the nearby hills (there’s a signboard with a map, in Korean only), passing small hermitages. The longest trail (10km, 4½ hours) hits the two peaks, Nabal-bong (나발봉; 417m) and Hwarin-bong (활인봉; 423m).

A templestay can be arranged for ₩50,000, or there is a motel in the small tourist village, as well as a few restaurants serving typical country fare (₩8000 to ₩25,000): sanchae bibimbap, pyogo jjigae jeongsik (표고찌개정식; shiitake mushroom stew with side dishes) and tokkitang (토끼탕; spicy rabbit soup).

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