Good weather, bad weather, but always a good time!

Gyeongju Travel Blog

 › entry 297 of 658 › view all entries
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park

People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip:

Gyeongju is THE place in Korea to visit, if you have any interest in ancient Korean History. The city and surrounding areas contain a plethora of tombs, palaces, pagodas and temples, enough to keep any enthusiast content for a few days. Gyeongju became the capital of the Shilla dynasty back in 57AD and held that title for almost a millenia, and at its peak was home to nearly 1,000,000 citizens! Today the city is a walking museum, as the place has been lovingly restored.

I decided to check into the hostel next to the bus station, which Lonely Planet informed me that i would either love or hate. Well, i was apathetic, but i cant say that i have much good to say about it.

Cherry blossom lines the way to the tomb of King Mich'u, known as Chukhyonnung or "Bamboo Soldier Tomb."
At Hanjin Hostel, 20,000won ($20) got you a matress on the floor of a tiny room, with a grubby shared bathroom. Incredibly they charged 3,000won ($3) for one hour on their only computer, which is 3 times the price of anywhere else in Korea and the first place i've stayed in that actually charged to use a communal computer. My aim was thus to spend every waking second away from the place and as the sun was beating down, it was ideal for been out in the fresh air anyway!

First stop on my grand sightseeing tour was the Noseo-dong Tombs, dating back more than 1500 years, to the Shilla dynasty. Unbelievably there had been houses standing upon the tombs until recently, but it warned that you should not have a picnic on them - its ok to build a house there, but eat a sandwich and the dead royal members would be greatly insulted! I wasn't overly impressed with them to be honest, as the surrounding area was undergoing redevelopment, but they actually reminded me of the Chocolate Hills in bohol, Philippines! http://www.
Cherry blossom on Tumuli Park
travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/2550/Tarsier-Monkeys-the-Chocolate-Hills-and-Bank-Fraud-Tagbilaran-137

After a quick pit stop for some lunch, i moved on to Tumuli Park, which contains 23 tombs of former Shilla Kings and some of their wifes too. The tombs which have 2 humps are the ones where the King was buried next to his wife. Burial was performed by placing the deceased in a wooden coffin, which was then placed alongside a wooden chest that contained personal belongings. A wooden chamber was then built around this, which was topped with boulders and an earthen mound covering.

It was possible to enter inside of Cheonmachong Tomb, which translates to the Heavenly Horse Tomb. It received this description as during excavation of the tomb, they found a cloth painting of a white horse, which is depicted on a birch bark saddle flap.
Strange trees and Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Also taken from the tomb were 11,500 other artifacts. There were strictly no photos in here, which once more i found ironic. Its ok to dig up the poor guy, take away all of his possessions that he was buried with and let people wonder through his tomb, but taking 1 photo is disrespectful, hmmm, yeah. I also wonder if in 1000 years time we will go around digging up Princess Diana, Pope John Paul and the likes and letting us walk around where they were buried? Its kind of strange to think that we do these excavations and whats to stop it happening again in the future? I kind of hope it does to be honest. If we can do it to the likes of Tutankhamun, then why shouldn't we do it to modern day celebrities and royalty?

The park looked extremely beautiful with cherry blossom trees in full bloom and the colours and soft music been played made for a very relaxing stroll.
Singhyejeon Temple, with dedicated worshipper
The other tomb of real note was that of King Minch'u and although you couldn't go into the area, just to look at it from the outside was enough as far as i was concerned. This tomb was known as Chukhyonnung, or 'Bamboo Soldier Tomb' because of a legend that told of soldiers with bamboo leaves in their ears appearing from his tomb to repell invaders!

From the Park i had seen some pretty tiled houses over the wall, so decided i would go and check it out. I stumbled across some really lovely buildings, with the star attraction been that of Singhyejeon Temple, which the helpful curator briefly showed me around. From here i walked to Wolseong Park, which housed Cheomseongdae, the oldest astrological observatory in Asia. The park itself was absolutely magnificent and the colours really knocked me off my feet! the day was dazzling and i couldn't think of a more beautiful place at that moment, my gloom of having my boots stolen had been lifted!

In the nearby mini forest of Gyeongju Gyerim, there was a pagoda with a stele inside and a group of schol kids were having their photo taken by their teacher.
Cheomseongdae astrological observatory, Wolseong Park
Instead of saying to them 'Cheese' to make them smile, she was saying 'Kim-Chi' which i thought was absolutely hysterical. I walked into Banwolseong from here, which was once a fortress, but the only thing left of interest is the Seokbinggo, or ice storage room. A trip to nearby Anapji Pond seemed the wisest place to head next and i enjoyed spending an hour walking around and photographing what i found to be a really scenic area.

By now it was nearly 15.00 and i had the decision of whether to try and rush a visit out to Bulguksa or visit the museum. Now the thought of a museum really wasn't appealing to me, so i made my way to the bus stop. For some reason as i was sat waiting, i thought, come on Philip, get your butt into the museum you uncultured bufoon, so thats exactly what i did! I often have these mini talks and battles with myself, some would call it schizophrenia, but why give it a  name!

I am pleased that the inner voices did triumph, as i was thoroughly impressed with the museum.
Flowers and cherry blossom in bloom within Wolseong Park
There were several rooms containing a range of exhibits and also outdoor features, which i am always a big fan of at museums. Rooms included one dedicated to the findings within Anapji Pond when they drained it and one on archaeology. There was such a range of items, all well labelled, not too much information and well spaced out. Outside there was a giant bell, some pagodas and Buddhist statues amongst other things. The only downside to my time here were the raucous groups of school children running around, paying no attention to any of the exhibits, but at the same time spoiling it for those that were attempting. Regardless of this, Korean museums score 10 out of 10 for me, there is still not one that hasn't caught my attention and had me captivated at some point, why can't all museums be like the ones here?

After spending a good 90 minutes or more, i just had time to make it to Bunhwangsa pagoda, a mid-7th century creation and still standing proudly today.
Anapji Pond
It dates as the oldest one remaining in Korea, although it is thought that it used to have an extra 6 storeys compared to what is left on display. In a field full of flowers outside the main entrance was 2 huge stone monuments, which were used to support flagpoles. By now i was thoroughly shattered and spent my evening trying my hardest to catch up with my blog and burn photos onto CD's. Im telling you, this is a full time job, i'm going to have to give up travelling, just to keep up to date with the blog and this site!

The following day the weather was abysmal, but i went off to discover the outlying areas of the city and my first stop was Unesco listed Bulguksa Temple. Despite the weather, it seemed like every Korean had made the journey anyway, and having come on the weekend, this meant a hell of a lot of people! Cherry blossom trees filled the gardens on the approach to the Temple and once inside the beauty continued.
Flagpoles at Bunhwangsa Pagoda
There were Dabotap and Seokgatap stone pagodas, several impressive buildings that housed national treasure Buddha statues and two 'bridges', which were actually stone steps leading up to the temples. The central bridge had 33 steps, symbolising the 33 stages to enlightenment. There were also several mechanisms for calling out to all living creatures. A drum that sounded to animals of the land and had ox and cow hides to represent yin and yang, a wooden fish to sound to animals of the sea and a bell to those in the air.

From Bulguksa it was an uphill 3.2km walk to the Seokguram Grotto, another Unesco site. I personally didn't find this place as impressive, it was just one cave that had a temple built above it, to shelter it and contained a carved granite Buddha, which was surrounded by more than 30 guardians and deities.
Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) and Baegungyo (White Cloud Bridge)
There was a glass sheet seperating you from getting anywhere near and the room was filled with pilgrims doing their melodic chantings. From the distance i was stood, the grotto did look nice, but i wouldn't go out of my way to visit it again.

I wandered back down the hill in the mist and light drizzle, another reason i think i wasn't too over enthused about the grotto, afterall, i couldn't really see any of it from the outside! Back down at Bulguksa i caught the bus to Gyeongju and from here collected my belongings and connected on to Busan.

Deats says:
Thanks :D I fell in love with Korea big time. Cant wait to see Japan for the first time!
Posted on: Aug 04, 2009
almond72 says:
Mmmmmmm.... I love museums and artifacts ! The Korean & Japanese style of temples are somehow appealing to me. Definitely this page goes into my bookmarks !
Posted on: Aug 03, 2009
portia says:
Hi, we are in Gyeongju now, and just visited Bulguksa Temple and the Seokguram Grotto, by taxi, not walking, that's a long walk for sure. I found the buddha in the grotto very graceful and beautiful, but I wouldn't have walked...
Posted on: May 30, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Cherry blossom lines the way to th…
Cherry blossom lines the way to t…
Cherry blossom on Tumuli Park
Cherry blossom on Tumuli Park
Strange trees and Shilla tombs in …
Strange trees and Shilla tombs in…
Singhyejeon Temple, with dedicated…
Singhyejeon Temple, with dedicate…
Cheomseongdae astrological observa…
Cheomseongdae astrological observ…
Flowers and cherry blossom in bloo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in blo…
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Flagpoles at Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Flagpoles at Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) an…
Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) a…
Noseo-dong tombs
Noseo-dong tombs
Noseo-dong tombs
Noseo-dong tombs
Noseo-dong tombs
Noseo-dong tombs
Noseo-dong tombs
Noseo-dong tombs
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Cheonmachong Tomb (Heavely Horse T…
Cheonmachong Tomb (Heavely Horse …
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Cheonmachong Tomb (Heavely Horse T…
Cheonmachong Tomb (Heavely Horse …
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Cherry blossom lines the way to th…
Cherry blossom lines the way to t…
Cherry blossom lines the way to th…
Cherry blossom lines the way to t…
Cherry blossom lines the way to th…
Cherry blossom lines the way to t…
Cherry blossom leaves on the floor…
Cherry blossom leaves on the floo…
Cherry blossom in Tumuli Park
Cherry blossom in Tumuli Park
Cherry blossom in Tumuli Park
Cherry blossom in Tumuli Park
Cherry blossom lines the way to th…
Cherry blossom lines the way to t…
Squirrel in Tumuli Park
Squirrel in Tumuli Park
Squirrel in Tumuli Park
Squirrel in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Shilla tombs in Tumuli Park
Pretty blossoming trees in Tumuli …
Pretty blossoming trees in Tumuli…
Cherry blossom and Shilla tombs in…
Cherry blossom and Shilla tombs i…
Cherry blossom on Tumuli Park
Cherry blossom on Tumuli Park
Pretty tiled houses near Tumuli Pa…
Pretty tiled houses near Tumuli P…
Shilla tombs in Wolseong Park
Shilla tombs in Wolseong Park
Shilla tombs and Cherry blossom tr…
Shilla tombs and Cherry blossom t…
Cherry blossom and tiled houses, o…
Cherry blossom and tiled houses, …
Shilla tombs in Wolseong Park
Shilla tombs in Wolseong Park
Shilla tombs in Wolseong Park
Shilla tombs in Wolseong Park
Shilla tombs in Wolseong Park
Shilla tombs in Wolseong Park
Wolseong Park
Wolseong Park
Flowers and cherry blossom in bloo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in blo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in bloo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in blo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in bloo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in blo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in bloo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in blo…
Gyeongju Gyerim stele
Gyeongju Gyerim stele
Gyeongju Gyerim stele
Gyeongju Gyerim stele
Flowers and cherry blossom in bloo…
Flowers and cherry blossom in blo…
Cherry blossom in bloom within Wol…
Cherry blossom in bloom within Wo…
Gyeongju Seokbinggo - ice storage,…
Gyeongju Seokbinggo - ice storage…
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Anapji Pond
Stele at the Gyeongju National Mus…
Stele at the Gyeongju National Mu…
Divine Bell of King Seongdeok
Divine Bell of King Seongdeok
Boat found in Anapji Pond
Boat found in Anapji Pond
Plan of Anapji Pond
Plan of Anapji Pond
Bronze dragon head
Bronze dragon head
Bronze Phoenix
Bronze Phoenix
Buddha image in the museum
Buddha image in the museum
Replica of Seokgatap pagoda at Bul…
Replica of Seokgatap pagoda at Bu…
The Gyeongju National Museum
The Gyeongju National Museum
Replica of Dabotap pagoda at Bulgu…
Replica of Dabotap pagoda at Bulg…
Stone carving
Stone carving
Bronze image
Bronze image
3 stone carvings
3 stone carvings
Image of Vajradhara
Image of Vajradhara
Stone carvings
Stone carvings
Corner pillars of a building
Corner pillars of a building
Gilt bronze shoes
Gilt bronze shoes
Bronze tin legged cauldron with ha…
Bronze tin legged cauldron with h…
Gold shaped crown
Gold shaped crown
Bronze vessel
Bronze vessel
Jar
Jar
Stone image of Avalokitesvara
Stone image of Avalokitesvara
Stone Buddha image
Stone Buddha image
Field full of flowers outside Bunh…
Field full of flowers outside Bun…
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Temple at Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Temple at Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Fish used to call out to the anima…
Fish used to call out to the anim…
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Bunhwangsa Pagoda
Cherry blossom outside Bulguksa
Cherry blossom outside Bulguksa
Cherry blossom outside Bulguksa
Cherry blossom outside Bulguksa
Cherry blossom in the park at Bulg…
Cherry blossom in the park at Bul…
Cherry blossom in the park at Bulg…
Cherry blossom in the park at Bul…
Pond at Bulguksa
Pond at Bulguksa
Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) an…
Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) a…
Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) an…
Cheongungyo (Blue Cloud Bridge) a…
Temple at Bulguksa
Temple at Bulguksa
Dabotap pagoda at Bulguksa
Dabotap pagoda at Bulguksa
Fish used to call out to the anima…
Fish used to call out to the anim…
Bell used to call out to the anima…
Bell used to call out to the anim…
Dabotap pagoda at Bulguksa
Dabotap pagoda at Bulguksa
Temple at Bulguksa
Temple at Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Seokgatap pagoda at Bulguksa
Seokgatap pagoda at Bulguksa
Bell used to call out to the anima…
Bell used to call out to the anim…
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Buddha statue at Bulguksa
Buddha statue at Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Sarira Pagoda at Bulguksa
Sarira Pagoda at Bulguksa
Buddha statue at Bulguksa
Buddha statue at Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Here little piggy piggy
Here little piggy piggy
Lotus Flower and Seven Treasures B…
Lotus Flower and Seven Treasures …
Bulguksa
Bulguksa
Path leading to Seokguram grotto
Path leading to Seokguram grotto
Path leading to Seokguram grotto
Path leading to Seokguram grotto
Path leading to Seokguram grotto
Path leading to Seokguram grotto
Watch out little bear! Daddy bear …
Watch out little bear! Daddy bear…
Views from the path leading to Seo…
Views from the path leading to Se…
Misty entrance to Seokguram grotto
Misty entrance to Seokguram grotto
Misty path leading to Seokguram gr…
Misty path leading to Seokguram g…
Seokguram grotto
Seokguram grotto
Seokguram grotto
Seokguram grotto
Seokguram grotto
Seokguram grotto
Floor plan of Seokguram grotto
Floor plan of Seokguram grotto
Entrance to Bulguksa
Entrance to Bulguksa
Gyeongju
photo by: Deats