Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Amazing Feat of one man, Tapsa Temple - WW

Tapsa Temple - one man's labour for World Peace

Mt Maisan, on the east of Jeonju, is about an hour away by bus. It's famous for the twin rocky mountains that look like Horse Ears. The mountain is famous for Tapsa Temple.

Horse Ear Mountain (马耳山公园) & Tapsa Temple ( 马耳塔寺)
Mount Maisan (马耳山公园) , "Horse Ear Mountain,” named because of the split part way up the mountain. Koreans claim that the taller half of the mountain belongs to the husband while the smaller is the wife.

A legend says that this couple were mountain spirits on their way to heaven. They must make it to Heaven before dawn so that no humans would spot them. Unfortunately, a housewife saw them early in the morning on her way to get water. The wife asked her husband to stop, but he refused and ignored her. As he moved on even higher and faster they were instantly frozen into rocks.

A long climb up to pray... so as to get closer to Heaven.

On Mt. Maisan, you find some 80 stone towers or pagodas that were erected in the early 1900’s by a hermit named Yi Kap-ryong. They were made by piling hundreds of rocks on top of one another without any use of mortar. Some are as high as 10 metres!

Hermit Yi Kap-ryong piled the stones over a decade as a personal prayer for peace. The prayer rocks are engineering marvels. Yi piled these natural stones up one by one without any mechanical help, working only at night, without electricity. Although the highest stone structure is over 10 m high, they are as solid as if they were stuck together by mortar. The stone towers have stood for over 100 years withstanding the forces of strong wind, rain and typhoons that have uprooted many trees in the area.

The stones used for each tower were chosen from mountains and rivers throughout Korea. Yi died at the age of 98.

Trying to erect a stone tower..........

I was told, during the colder months Maisan experiences a strange "magical" phenomena where if you place a bowl of water outside, an icicle will form and grow upwards. Though there is obviously a scientific explanation for it... I don't know what it is......

It was -4C when we were at Mt Maisan. It was quite difficult for me to climb the rocky steps to Tapsa Temple. Initially I didn't want to, luckily my student was there to helped me. I looked like an old woman being helped up the steps. And it was embarrassing because there were many elderly Korean women in their 60s or 70s who climbed all the way from the foot of Mt Maisan to Tapsa Temple without panting!

The view was so beautiful up there. It is so amazing to see the work of one single man. It's incredible & awesome, simply breathtaking! I feel so small among the stone structures.


  1. You're right about me missing all the fun in Korea. I hope to save enough for a vacation trip soon (and not biz trip), and will certainly use this blog as my program guide!

    Good wtite-up!

  2. horsoon,
    Thanks for your compliment.

    I'm not the usual tourist who goes bonkers on shopping trips and great food! I like to explore a foreign country and learn as much as I can about its culture and tradition.

    If I could, I would stay with the locals and experience their lifestyle. :)

    You will love some of the beautiful and fascinating places in Korea. I'm sure you would enjoy taking in the sights and remembering them on camera.

    I have only a simple digital camera , so I couldn't record the beauty of Korea accurately.

    I look forward to your adventures. :)

  3. OMG - what a beautiful place to be. Definitely have to put that on my list of things to see.

    Happy WW!

  4. Hi dette,
    Yes, it is a fascinating place. You can try your hand at piling the stones and see if it would topple. :)

  5. Wow! these stones actually have their own stories to tell. I hope to one day visit places like these. This reminded me of those ancient buildings of time past from the movie Kung fu Panda. How I'd love to travel and see them for myself.

    Thanks for posting this. I wouldn't have know a place such as wonderful as the Tapsa Temple existed if it wasn't for this entry. ;-) Thanks also for dropping by our blog. God bless!

    {dropped our ec too :-)}

  6. The scenery must have been really fabulous. I miss Korea!!

    P/S: So when are u free to meet at 'Old Town'? :P

  7. Hi Jennie,
    It's a fascinating place. They are not just piles of stones. They are testimonial to one man's determination and noble quest for peace for mankind.

    Standing in the middle of this awesome monument, it makes me feel so small, so insignificant.

    Man can take on a huge task if he wants to.

    God bless. :)

  8. napaboaniya,
    The scenery is breathtaking!!

    Have tea at Old Town? What about next week? :)

  9. It almost feels as if I was there with you. Well written and nice pics as well. I have to agree, it definitely seems as if Korea is one of those places that just begs to be visited.

  10. Wah kesian kena turn into rocks, though it makes a nice story for the place.

    And don worry, I'm sure if I ever have to climb the rocky steps to any temple, I'd be panting, huffing and puffing away too he he!! :)

  11. Hi sailor,
    There are many more fascinating places in Korea... I just love the old traditional houses, folk tales and customs.

    Go if you have the chance.

  12. mariuca,
    eh ... et tu? hehe...

    City folks like me turn weak and unfit when going on such climbs. :P

  13. Looks like quite an adventure. Thanks for sharing that very interesting legend/story.

  14. Now you made me want to go to Korea badly....

  15. Wow what a beautiful place i wish i could go there

  16. that's really awesome- and like you said, the stairs are like leading to heaven!

  17. wow ... what an impressive history! no machines used? amazing!

    ps. i guess i, too, would be hesitant about climbing ... :)

  18. What an amazing place and legend. I also have a problem going up steep hills LOL but would be worth it just to see the stone towers and pagodas.

  19. WOW. I love these travel items of yours, Eastcoastlife - they make fascinating reading!

  20. Doreen,
    Plan to go Korea the next trip. You will love it.

    The shopping is great. Very beautiful, pretty, fashionable clothes for the women and men!!! Must save hard for a great shopping in Seoul!! Save now.

  21. mudpie,
    My tower cannot tahan the wind... topple. hehehe.... *embarrassed*

  22. tentay,
    Don't wish. Save for a holiday in Korea. You won't regret the months of scrimping on expenses. hehe...

  23. farah,
    Indeed it is awesome. It is hard work climbing to the top. But the feeling on top is shiok!!! better than s**! kakaka....

  24. maiylah,
    According to the locals and daughter-in-law of the hermit, no machines were used. All carried and stacked up by hand. Incredible eh.

    When I first looked at the stairs leading up, my first thought was 'forget it'. My student first shamed me by pointing to the elderly women climbing up slowly on the stairs..... then she assured and encouraged me to try by promising to hold my arms and carry me when necessary. I did it.

    The photos at the top of the mountain was missing from my file. :(

  25. jackie,
    It is indeed worth a visit... to see what a person can achieve under dire circumstances and without modern facilities and convenience.... there's a lesson to be learnt. :)

  26. Hi kath lockett,
    thanks for stopping by. Glad you enjoy my posts.