After walking through the cobblestone steps of Insa-dong, I meandered through a small alley leading to the other side of Jongno towards the Jogyesa Temple.
Even though I have been to this very popular temple on several occasions, I didn't know much about its history. But listening through the audio files about the Jogyesa Temple on the Seoul Walking Tour app, I learned that it was built in 1910 by Buddhist monks.
(The Seoul Walking Tour app at work!)
(The ten-story octagonal stupa)
Although many people visit this temple everyday, this place comes alive during the festivities, including the lotus lantern parade, held to celebrate Buddha's birthday in May. But since this is a temple, it is a quiet place, where most visitors come to pray and meditate.
(The smiling Buddha welcomes everyone to the temple)
The first time I visited Jogyesa Temple in the autumn of 2004 with Professor Jimmy Licauco and our KTO Goodwill Guide, Veronica, I was surprised to find such a serene corner in a very noisy and fast city. (I was new to Seoul then, and yes, I needed a tour guide! Ha-ha-ha!) I have been coming back to this place ever since. This place is peaceful and very colorful.
The lanterns hanging overhead around the temple grounds also add a different character to the temple. This place must be one of the most colorful in Seoul.
From the moment you pass through the iljumun, or the One Pillar Gate, and walking past the smiling stone Buddha before reaching the Daeungjeon, or the Daeungjeon Hall, you can immediately feel Jogyesa Temple's cool and laid-back atmosphere.
And at the other end of the grounds, the ten-story octagonal stupa is usually surrounded by people praying. This was just built in 2009. But the huge tree standing between the Daeungjeon and the stupa is also one imposing natural presence.
After spending some time around the Jogyesa Temple while listening to the Seoul Walking Tour app, I made my way towards the other exit of the temple grounds, and headed to the serviced apartments nearby to visit my friend Ruth and her family.
(The Jogyesa Temple from Ruth's 14th floor window)
And from her 14th floor window, I gazed down at the Jogyesa Temple with its hanging lanterns still showing off its colors as if inviting me to visit it again some day.
I think I will.
(Jongno, where part of the old Seoul still lives)