What To Expect
Visit Jeondeungsa temple on Ganghwado and experience the traditional monastic life. Jeondeungsa dating back to the 3rd century is an active Buddhist temple providing a glimpse into the Buddhist culture and you will experience a traditional monastic life in this temple. The temple came into prominence during the late Goryeo period (918-1392) when King Gojong commissioned the famous Tripitaka Koreana wood blocks to be carved there which are now preserved in Haeinsa temple. The main worship hall is dedicated to Sakyamuni Buddha. The Buddha is flanked on the left by Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of Perfect Wisdom, and on the right by Samantabhadra, the Bodhisattva of Perfect Compassionate Action.
As you approach the hall, look carefully way up in the eaves at the corners of the roof, and there you can just see tiny human figures, one at each corner. One version says that the forsaken carpenter carved his two-timing girl up in the rafters, eternally bearing the burden of her deceitfulness. You will see a dharma bell dating back to 1097, the only Chinese bell designated a Korean treasure.
There are many temples in Korea, but the opportunity to observe and experience the ascetic Buddhist life in a temple does not come easily to outsider visitors. Some of the temples in Korea open their doors to foreign visitors for a short sojourn to give visitors the opportunity to see how monks practice their daily discipline from early morning prayers to evening rites. The temples are places where Buddha dwells and where the disciples of Buddha, or monks, practice asceticism. It is also a place where believers learn Buddhist teachings and put them into practice. Visitors will get to study and experience the Korean tradition and culture, all at the same time enjoying the nature.
The temple program may vary due to season and conditions of the individual temple situation, but it basically includes meditation, tea ceremony, lotus lantern making or prayer bead making. You will experience temple meal, perhaps first time in your life.
After the temple program, you will explore Ganghwado, such a fascinating place that is often called a microcosm of Korean history. But, due to its strategic location, Ganghwado has historically been one of the first targets of many foreign attacks particularly in the late 19th century when Korea unsuccessfully sought to maintain its status as a "Hermit Kingdom".
Your tour begins with a visit to the Ganghwa History Museum displaying historical records of the entire spectrum of Korean existence, from the mythical foundation of Korea to the opening port to the outside World marked by Ganghwado Treaty signed in February 1876. Near museum is Korea's first Anglican Church, which is a notably unusual church with Western, Korean, Christian, Buddhist and Confucian influences, and Goryeo Palace site where several Goryeo kings resided (1232-1270) during their tenacious 39-year resistance against Mongol invaders.
You will see one of the most famous dolmens in Korea. A 50-ton capstone, 7.1 meters long, 5.5 meters wide and 1 meter thick, rests on two sturdy supporting prop stones. This prehistoric dolmen including many others in Gochang and Hwasun has been registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage for their archaeological value.
On the way to Seoul, you will stop off at Ginseng market selling variety of ginseng products from raw roots to extracts. This mysterious root has historically been considered an empowering medicine and an aphrodisiac in Korea. It is effective in recovering the liver's functions, improving anticancer and immunity functions, and treating diabetes, hypertension, low blood pressure and stress. Ginseng also facilitates recovery from fatigue and the activation of nervous cells. Apart from the ginseng, you will see a typical example of local market where many elderly women selling fishes, home-grown vegetables and grains on the roadsides.
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Optional activity costs
Tips and gratuities
German, French, Spanish or Russian speaking guides are available at an additional cost.
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