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Nature's Beauty

Mount Myohyang: Korea's Fragrant Mountain, Part 2 of 2

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One of the main attractions at Mount Myohyang is the International Friendship Exhibition Center, a large museum that holds gifts to Korean leaders from dignitaries all around the world. It is located across the street from Pohyon-sa and was opened to the public on August 26, 1978.

Pohyon-sa, or Pohyon Temple, is one of the most famous temples in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, located deep within Mount Myohyang and built in 1042 during the Koryo Dynasty. When visiting the Pohyon-sa, there are three ceremonial gates that were used to enter. After passing the first and outer gate, Jogye Gate, you can find commemorative steles that explain the history of Pohyon-sa. The third and inner-most gate of the temple is Chonwang Gate, or “Gate of the Four Heavenly Kings.”

The Manse Pavilion, or the “Pavilion of Ten Thousand Years,” is a former meditation hall, directly reached through Chonwang Gate. A large bell and two large drums hang in the pavilion. In front of the Manse Pavilion stands the Tabo Pagoda, known as the “Pagoda of Many Treasures,” which was constructed in 1044. The Sokka Pagoda is considered the most famous pagoda at Mount Myohyang. Erected during the late Goryeo Dynasty, this pagoda stands between the Manse Pavilion and Taeung Hall, which is the main hall.

An indispensable figure in Mount Myohyang and Pohyon-sa is the monk Hyujeong. He is honored at the Kumgang Cave, a hermitage built at the end of the Goryeo Dynasty in a cave about 15 meters wide and 10 meters high. Suchung Shrine, built at Pohyon-sa, is a shrine dedicated to Hyujeong.

Puryongdae, a hermitage located in the middle of Mount Myohyang’s Popwang Peak, is where the shadow of the Buddha resides. This is the place where the “Annals of the Joseon Dynasty,” or “Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty,” listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World registry, were kept. Another Pohyon-sa storage room is the Tripiṭaka Koreana Preservation. A total of 1,159 volumes of the printed Tripitaka Koreana are kept here. In 2007 the Tripiṭaka Koreana Buddhist scriptures were also registered on UNESCO’s Memory of the World list.

Located at the top of Yongjubong Peak, behind the main hall, a five-story stone pagoda is a stupa enshrining The Worshipped Shakyamuni Buddha’s sariras from the time of Her Majesty Queen Seondeok of Silla. Of the numerous Buddhist treasures protected in the northern part of Korea, the Worshipped Shakyamuni Buddha’s sarira stupa, the Tripiṭaka Koreana, and the legacies of Hyujeong are called the three treasures, and Pohyon-sa is valued as the temple that houses them.

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