Daewonsa Temple – Pohang, South Korea - Atlas Obscura
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Pohang, South Korea

Daewonsa Temple

To enter the lower hall of this temple, you must first walk through a dragon.  

Daewonsa Temple isn’t like the other temples dotting South Korea’s countryside and nestled within its cities. To enter its lower hall, you must first step through the mouth of a dragon. The dragon’s body twists roughly 330 feet through trees and bushes.

Why a giant dragon? The reptilian beasts represent good fortune, spiritual clarity, and in Buddhism, they are the protectors of the Buddha and the temples. This temple—aptly nicknamed the “Dragon Temple”—built a giant dragon to ensure ultimate fortune, clarity, and protection.

In addition to offering protection, the coiled monster acts like a long, winding hallway. It’s filled with religious statues and artwork that tell the story of the Buddha, so your journey through the bowels of the beast is actually an educational experience. While making your way through the dragon’s body, you’ll pass a meditation area, Buddhist artwork, and dozens of little golden Buddha statues. A door within the dragon leads to the lower level of the temple.

Apart from the colorful dragon, the main temple is stunning: the backdrop of the mountains, the peaceful quiet, and the two dragon heads that guard the temple make it a beautiful, unique temple experience. Surprisingly, this temple isn’t very popular with tourists, so it’s a great place to peacefully explore.

Know Before You Go

From Pohang Bus Terminal, take bus #510 for 34 stops, about 50 minutes, and get off at the Chilpo 1-ri stop. Walk about 10 minutes down a dirt road to Daewonsa Temple.