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An unforgettable overnight Templestay in a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Buddhist mountain monastery in Korea

May 13, 2019 Destination North Asia No Comments Email Email

Have you ever spent a night in a UNESCO World Heritage site? If you desire to feel a living history or take a unique getaway from your busy daily lives, here is something that you will never forget – Templestay in a “Sansa”, meaning a Buddhist mountain monastery in Korea.

A group of seven Sansa located throughout the southern provinces of the Korean Peninsula, was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in June 2018. They include Tongdosa, Buseoksa, Bongjeongsa, Beopjusa, Magoksa, Seonamsa, and Daeheungsa.

These traditional Korean temples surrounded by mountains have been designated as the UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to their openness and continuity of Korean Buddhism. These mountain monasteries have survived as living places of faith and daily religious practice for more than 1,700 years from the fourth century when Buddhism was first introduced to Korea.

Templestay is a good way to learn Korean Buddhism’s history, culture and tradition. Many Korean temples including UNESCO World Heritage-listed sansa offer Templestay programs. Templestay literally means “staying at a temple,” allowing participants to experience a day of Buddhist monks. Usually, they spend an overnight staying, experiencing early morning “Yebul” (Buddhist ceremony), “108 bae” (108 prostrations), “Chamseon” (Zen meditation) and learning how to make Buddhist prayer beads.

All meals are vegetarian diet the monks eat, so the vegetarian can participate without any pressure. Many participants said, “It was a very peaceful and tranquil experience. I was able to learn Korean Buddhism and traditional culture. It was time to get to know myself.”

Templestays are being held at a total of 137 temples across the country. Even if you cannot speak Korean at all, there is nothing to worry about. 27 temples provide Templestay programs in English and have English-speaking interpreters.

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