After our scavenger hunt at Bulguksa we grabbed lunch near the bus stop in the little town, picking a shop filled with other people close to our bus stop that served donkatsu. After our quick lunch we waited at the bus stop for the only bus going further up the mountain to the Seokguram Grotto. The Seokguram Grotto was another case, like the underwater tomb of King Munmu where our expectations were too big.
The Seokguram Grotto is a cave with a big buddha inside and several other statues. When my friend and I saw that it was a cave we got excited to walk through a Korean cave, however it was vastly different. On a non-rainy day the view from around the Seokguram temple is beautiful. It’s high in the mountains and I’m sure you could see more of the beautiful national park it rests in, or even parts of the city of Gyeongju. But it was raining, thus blocking most of the view. After climbing up the steps and buying another receipt ticket (4,000 won each) we headed in, through a forested path with a very steep fall on one side and a very steep climb on the other, parts of which were covered in tarp due to the land sliding and loosening during the rain. It was pretty, not particularly nice for those afraid of heights. But mostly peaceful when we had bursts between other visitors.
The way up to Seokguram Grotto is not easy. The steps or difficult and steep both on the way up and on the way down. When we made it to the Seokguram Grotto we went into a temple with a sheet of glass up blocking us from getting too close, with signs saying no pictures and slowly made our way through to look at the stone Bonjon, Bodhi-sattva, and his deciples. It was crowded, packed like sardines and smaller than I had expected. A lot of it is closed off to the public, which can be seen in models at the Silla Art and Science Museum. The view may be worth it, especially at sunrise, but on a cloudy rainy day where we were already exhausted, it wasn’t as fun as we had hoped.
There is only one bus (#12) that comes and goes from Seokguram Grotto, grab it to be taken back to Bulguksa Temple and then transfer to another bus to go back into Gyeongju.