Seungseon Bridge at Seonam Temple in Jogyesan Provincial Park, South Korea
© Aaron Choi/Getty Image
Bridging past and present. Seonam Temple, South Korea
The Seonam Temple, or Seonamsa, in Jogyesan Provincial Park, South Korea, exudes serenity. Just downstream, Buddhist monks built this gently arched bridge by hand, centuries ago. Stones around the base record the names of visitors for posterity. The Seungseon Bridge (‘the Ascending Immortals’), blends into the scenery around the temple, hidden away among ancient trees, tranquil ponds and streams and gorgeous pagodas. Mellow bells and meditation are the order of the day here - the monks also cultivate wild tea plants and are happy to share the benefits of the harvest.
The original temple is believed to have been built in the 9th century, but over the years war and fire caused extensive damage, and it had to be rebuilt in the 19th century. Now the Seonam Temple is a Unesco World Heritage Site, along with six other ‘sansa,’ or Buddhist monasteries, dotted in the mountains throughout the southern provinces of the Korean Peninsula. Visitors can stay overnight at the temple and follow the monks’ daily routine, but you can also dip in for a day to absorb the peace and tranquility. Flowers in spring and colourful leaves in autumn make those the most popular times to visit.