Bulguksa Temple is one of the most celebrated spiritual places in South Korea. This World Heritage Site in Gyeongsang is one of the top historic and scenic site in South Korea. In the Jogye Order of Buddhism in South Korea there are head temples that oversee a list of subordinate temples. Bulguksa Temple is the head temple of the 11th district of this particular Buddhist order in South Korea. Besides being an immensely important and historically significant spiritual place, it is also one of the most popular tourist attractions, both for domestic and international travelers making the trip to the North Gyeongsang Province.
South Korea is filled with many beautiful temples such as Beomeosa Temple in Busan and the Beopjusa Temple in the Northern Chungcheong Province. Perhaps none are quite as celebrated and fantastic as the site at Bulguksa. This is evidenced by the fact that the place is now designated as a World Heritage Site in Gyeongsang. Dabotap and Seokgatap, two formidable stone pagodas, are two of the main reasons why the Bulguksa Temple is as celebrated and popular as it is.
Dabotap Pagoda is listed as National Treasure # 20 in South Korea. Just as in the United States there are sites on the National Register of Historic Places, the National Treasure tag is a similar designation. What is absolutely amazing about Bulguksa Temple is that there are seven of the National Treasures located on the premises. Both Dabotap and Seokgatap are located in the central courtyard of the temple. Dabotap is National Treasure # 20 and Seokgatap is # 21.
The two pagodas are famous around the country because, although they could not look any different from one another than they already do, they somehow maintain a certain congruity that makes them a pair. Dabotap is extremely ornate and features detailed carvings, staircases, and multiple roofs. It is thought to maintain a more feminine look because of its outward appearance. Seokgatap on the other hand was more basically constructed and is much less ornate, giving it something of a masculine look as compared to its more decorative counterpart. There is a story in Buddhist lore about how the two pagodas came to be intertwined with one another. It is based around an enlightened being and a not yet enlightened being sitting together in a temple on the grounds and learning from one another. Dabotap is said to represent objective truth while Seokgatap is said to represent the earthly wisdom it takes to process and recognize the truth. The story is more involved and complex than this, but this at least gives a good idea of how it is that these two temples that now represent the most significant features of this World Heritage Site in Gyeongsang came to be thought of as a pair, even though they are distinctly different from one another.
Bulguksa Temple is certainly a destination that you should consider putting on your list of places to see if you are traveling into the Gyeongsang Province of South Korea. Not every vacation in this country has to be restricted to the popular city of Seoul, and many of the most sought after attractions lie well off the beaten path of the big city.