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Gayasan

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Introduction

As one of the 8 most beautiful places in Korea, Gayasan Mountain lies from north to south between Seongju-gun of Gyeongsangbuk-do and Hapcheon-gun of Gyeongsangnam-do, with the mountain’s main peak Sanwangbong (1,430m) in the center, many rocky peaks like Dooribong, Namsan, Bigaesan, Bukdoosan and various other peaks higher than 1000m stand together like a folding screen. The Hapcheon-gun side is rather a milder slope full of soils but on the Seongju-gun side, the slope is more rockier and rugged. Oddly formed rocks and strangely shaped stones which you look upon at the top of the mountain fit well with the autumn leaves that cover the mountain during the fall season and the snow covered Gayasan in the winter is another special scenery.
Gayasan's mysterious yet remarkable sceneries bring many visitors all throughout the year. The Hongnyudong Valley that stretches from the ticket office to Haeinsa Temple is abundant with pine trees and other broad-leaved trees and the trail is regarded as one of the best parts of Gayasan. From Gyeongmyeokwon at the entrance of Haeinsa to Woobijeong at the top, there are 19 famous sites in Gayasan. Hongnyudong Valley which originates from Gayasan, offers different views for each season and along with the forest of thousand-year old pine trees, there are many beautiful sites between a 4-km trail from the 3rd most beatuiful site, Mooreunggyo to the 17th site, Haksadae. The name Hongnyudong derives from the water in the valley that turns red because of the autumnal tints of the leaves during the fall season. The valley was also called Oknyudong during the summer seaons because it resembled the Oknyucheon in Geumgansan Mountain. In Gayasan, there are many more beautiful sites such as Mooreunggyo, Hongpilam, Eumpoongrye, Gongjaeam, Gwangpoongrye, Jaewoldam, Nakhwadam, Cheopseokdae and etc.
In present days, Gayasan became more famous because Buddhist master Seongcheol practiced in Baekryunam. The famous Buddhist saying, 『Mountain is Mountain, Water is Water』, seems to flow like the clear water in Hongnyudong Valley and blow like soft breeze through many visitors who come to Gayasan.


* No admission fee or parking fee for Gayasan National Park but admission fee for viewing cultural properties is collected at the Haeinsa's Hongnyudong ticket office



◇Gayasan – The name was naturally given because the mountain was the highest and the most beautiful mountain in the region during the ancient Gaya Kingdom. Also it is told that the name refers to Gaya mountain, a place near Bodh Gaya in India, where the Buddha became enlightened and the mountain that is famous as one of the major sites of Buddha’s teachings. The older brother had a sun-like, round and reddish face like his father’s and the younger brother had a bright and and narrow face like his mother’s. So the older brother was called Noejiljuil(惱窒朱日) and the younger one was called Noejilcheongye(惱窒靑裔). "

◇Sangwangbong peak (Woodubong peak) - The word ‘sangwang’ in Sanwangbong, the main peak of Gayasan, is a sacred name that appears in ≪Yeolbangyeong, the Nirvana Sutra≫ and it refers to all Buddhas. From the old days, the peak was used as a sanctioned place of offering cows as sacrifice to the mountain. "
◇Woobijeong(牛鼻井) - Inside the triangle-shaped entrance under the rock located to the southwest of Sangwangbong peak, there is a spring called Woobijeong. Since Sangwangbong resembled a cow’s head, it was also called as Woodubong and the word ‘Woobi’ of Woobijeong means ‘cow’s nose.’ As a healthy cow’s nose is always wet, the spring is also always full of water. Whether the spring water is from underground or from the rain is still unknown.

◇Chibulbong peak – Chilbulbong peak is related with the myth about the grandsons of a mountain goddess, Jeonggyeonmoju. According to the myth, the second son of the goddess, Kim Suro, the founding king of Geumgwan Gaya, married Heo Hwang-ok, the princess of Ayodhya in India and had 10 princes. The first prince succeded to the throne and the second and third became the progenitors of their mother’s last name, Heo. The other 7 princes followed their uncle Jayuhwasang and began priest in Chilbulbong. The Queen missed her princes so much but she could not get to Chilbulbong so she prayed to Buddha and her devotion moved Buddha to finally have her princes’ images reflect on the pond by Haeinsa. The pond is now called ‘Yeongji’ and some say that Chilbulbong peak can been seen on the pond for those who pray with sincere devotion.

◇Sang-A-Deom (Ivory Site)正見母主 -Located in Seojangdae, Sang-A-Deom is a sacred place that is known for its myth of ancient Gaya Kingdom. According to the myth, once there was a goddess with absolute beauty and holy nature, called Jeonggyeonmoju living in Sang-A-Deom. She was a goddess who looked after the people living at the foot of Gayasan. In hope of creating better world for the people she prayed day and night to the sky. Finally, moved by her devotion, the god of sky, Ibiha came down to Sang-A-Deom, the rock of goddess, on a 5-colored clouds. The god of sky and the goddess of land had two sons in the holy land, Gayasan. The first son became the founding king of Daegaya, ‘Ijinasiwang’ and the second son became ‘Surowang’, the king of Geumgwan Gaya. This story is passed down through Chi-Won Choe’s `Seoksuneungjeon` and `Dongguk Yeoji Seungram`.

◇Jideok (the auspicious effect of a site) of Gayasan – The ancient people knew the hidden value of Gayasan. There is a record that says, ‘the shape of the mountain is the greatest in the world and Jideok is the greatest in the country’ and the author of Taekniji, Joong-Hwan Lee highly praised the mountain and said, “the high, rock peaks are so beautiful and they stand strong like bursting flames.” In `Jeonggamnok`, it is also predicted that the energy of country’s capital will move from Hanyang to Gyeryongsan (Mt.) and finally to Gayasan.
The fact that our wise ancestors did not travel around mountains for the artistic joy of it is noted clearly in Jeonggu’s 〈Gayasan Kihaengmun (travel essay)〉. It is says, “the mountain’s great sceneries are to make the wise man self-examine by understanding the profound truth about the origin of life and nature. Climbing up a mountain is not intended to broaden your vision but to broaden your mind.”

◇The Roads in Gayasan – The typical mountain course in Gayasan is the trail beginning from Haeinsa. However, the best course is the one that starts at Baegundong of Seongju-gun and through Amreung section to Manmulsang rocks. Then, after enjoying viewing Chilbulbong and Sangwangbong, you head down to Haeinsa. It is about 9km long and takes about 4hrs 30mins. Located at the east of Gayasan, Baegundong is a historic region that has many famous sites such as Gaya Sanseong, the old site of Geumdangsa, many other sites of famous Buddhist temples and beautiful peaks such as Manmulsang.
As you pass through a well-lighted valley for about 20 mins, there is Baegunamji and in about 20 mins of hard climb, you will arrive at Seoseongjae. From there, if you go down south from Seoseongjae, you can see Sang-A-Deom (Seojangdae). If the trail is not restricted, you can walk on Manmulsang ridge for about 3km. The trail from Seoseongjae to Chilbulbong peak is the key section of Gayasan. There are many rocky slopes but steel steps are installed on the most dangerous sections. The hard climb gets rewarded with a beautiful view of Manmulsang. After you go up the last steel steps and steep rope-climbing section, you will be at the Chilbulbong fork section. At this point, the order is to go to Sangwangbong after you have seen Chilbulbong.
Chilbulbong is only 200m away from Sanwangbong but the view of Sangwangbong and Dongseongjae Amreung is absolute masterpiece. Many mountain lovers say that it is difficult to decide on the more beautiful peak between Sanwangbong and Chilbulbong. As you go around the rock peaks of Chilbulbong, a great chunk of rock called Sangwangbong will capture your eyes. The anticipated, top of Sangwangbong is at right after another climb of steel steps.
The view of Sangwangbong is a blessing from Gayasan. Faraway to the left, Cheonwangbong peak of Jirisan stands strong as if it would touch the dim sky, and the wide and round Banyanbong peak can be seen as well. To your left, there is another great mountain range and it is Deogyusan. So the complete line of Baekdudaegan that stretches from Jirisan to Deogyusan can be seen as a panoramic view.

◇Gaya Sanseong (fortress) 伽倻山城 - Gaya Sanseong is a rock fortress standing with the center as Yonkigol of Baegundong. It is a fortress built to the right ridge from the highest point of the mountain and it is 5km long and 5m high. There are 6 valleys and 10 streams nearby. The fortress was built when Gaya was a tribal nation and as the center fortress, it is connected with other fortresses such as Heuksanseong, Dogyong Sanseong and Woonla Sanseong through a mountain range to the southeast direction. 4 of these fortresses are located at the peak about 5km apart each and they are called Hami Sanseong because they all have shrines for the guardian spirit of the mountain. In 1594, General Sin-Yeol reconstructed the fortress by raising the upper story of the fortress gate.

◇ Manmulsang 萬物相 - Manmulsang means ‘Rocks of Ten Thousand Features’ and Manmulsang trail was opened to public for the first time in 38 years after the mountain was designated as national park. The place is in short, a grand feast of oddly shaped rocks and stones. Many beautiful rocks such as Koggiribawi(elephant rock), Dolgoraebawi(dolphin rock), Kidobawi(praying rock), Duggeobibawi(toad rock) and Ssangdoongyibawi(twin rock) are seen all over the place. The elephant shaped, Koggiribawi looks like a shy elephant just trying to show his long nose and the dolphin shaped, Dolgoraebawi looks as if a dolphin is jumping out the water wanting to be fed. Kidobawi, the praying rock, is facing against the open view as if the praying is not done yet. Duggeobibawi, the toad rock is too big to notice its exact form at first sight.
The oddly shaped rocks and stones that are withered by wind and rain speak for the long years. For so many years, these rocks have withstood patiently to finally show their true beauty. The exciting part still goes on as you climb to Sang-A-Doem at the top of the ridge. As you get there, the view of all those rocks and stones come in as a complete view. You just won’t be able to turn your head away from the absolute beauty of them.

<19 Most beautiful spots in Gayasan>
1. Gyeongmeogwon(更覓源) or Myeokdowon(覓桃源)
2. Chukwacheon(逐花川)
3. Mureunggyo(武陵橋)
4. Chilseongdae(七星臺)
5. Hongnyudong(紅流洞)
6. Nongsangjeong(籠山亭)
7. Chuijeongbong(翠積峰)
8. Chaepilam(泚筆岩)
9. Eumpoongnoe(吟風瀨)
10. Gwangpoonnoe(光風瀨)
11. Wanjaeam(宛在岩)
12. Bunokpok(噴玉瀑)
13. Jaewoldam(霽月潭)
14. Nakhwadam(落花潭)
15. Cheopseokdae(疊石臺)
16. Hwaseongdae(會仙臺)
17. Haksadae(學士臺)
18. Bongcheondae(奉天臺)
19. Woobijeong(牛鼻井)

Visitors guide