Seochulji Pond in Gyeongju (慶州書出池) is a fresh lotus pond and garden area that exist since the Three Kingdoms period. It lies near Namsan Mountain in Namsan-dong, Gyeongju-si.
My discovery of this beautiful site came to me purely as a surprise package to my main destination: the Chilbulam Monastery, which is about 8 kilometers from this pond.
You should not miss this site as other exciting sites are sitting beside
Seochulji. These worth-visiting sites are the two Three-Tiered Pagodas
and the Yeombulsa Temple, and the Muryangsa Temple.
Check out the Yeombulsa Temple as it is very historical along with the ancient two pagodas.
Let me tell you that when you explore Seochulji Pond, it is like receiving somethings with lots of other goodies that go with it! The goodies are the other nearby exciting sites you will certainly enjoy seeing.
What adds to my great unforgettable experience is that I felt very relaxed and somewhat have put aside my daily concerns and brought me to a different dimension, though short-lived.
Alright, enough with that chattering! Let me tell you the story behind the creation of that pond.
Here we go...
During the time of King Soji of Silla Kingdom, there is a story told that rumors spread around about the queen's misconduct. The story began when the King was strolling.
In the 10th year of King Soji in Silla (488), while the King was on his way to the pavilion called 'Cheoncheonjeong' at Namsan Mountain's foot, a crow and a rat came crying and spoke to him in a human's voice. The rat said, 'Go after the place where this crow is going.'
Upon hearing the request, the King then ordered a servant to follow the crow. However, when Shinha (servant's name) reached the pond, he got distracted by the two pigs' fighting. He lost track of the crow when an older man appeared in the middle of the pond.
The older man handed him over an envelope telling him to deliver it to the King. The envelope contains a message telling the King to return to his palace and shoot the "geomungojip" (musical instrument) with his arrow. The arrow hit and killed the court master and along with the unfaithful queen.
Pathway around the pond
Sitting area at Seochulji Pond
In the end, it was the crow, which is the star of the story. When the moon is full (called Ogiil (烏忌日)), it became a custom to prepare glutinous rice cakes and offer sacrifices to the crow.
By the way, it was my first time to see crows in hundreds near Seochulji Pond's site. I thought it was astounding to see such huge numbers, but I was a bit scared for the same reason that I haven't such a large flock of crows in my life before!
Iyodang - Imjeok House
Iyodang is a house built on top of the stones piled up by the pond's side. Imjeok built it in 1664, the fifth year of King Hyeongjong of Joseon Dynasty.
Story has it that when there is a severe drought season, Imjeok would always find a source of underground water which he used to help the neighborhood as the water does not run out.
Imjeok spent most of life helping the poor people which made him renowned for his virtues. Until now, the building remains in a simple and elegant shape to the northwest of the pond.
Yeombulsa Temple is a historical temple area. In front of the temple area is a beautiful and spacious garden which is obviously marked by two ancient three-tiered pagodas. The temple and its surrounding is worth your time and efforts.
Chilbulam Temple is a temple area and a hermitage with a famous Buddhas and Boddhisatvas carved on stones. It takes about an hour on foot to get here and enjoy the place. It means that you have to hike to experience and discover such religious and natural beauties.
Muryangsa Temple is located right beside Seohulji Pond. You should not miss this Buddhist site to complete your visit in the area, including Yeombulsa Temple.
Wall of Muryangsa Temple
A pagoda at Muryangsa Temple
You can either hike or take public transportation from Gyeongju City proper to the pond area.
Whatever method you prefer, here is how to get there via public bus.
Your direction would be to...
Take bus number 11 opposite from Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal, then get off at Tongiljeon bus stop.
You can get to Gyeongju City via various transportations, including train, bus, or taxi. Of course, you can rent a car and drive to Gyeongju. Please, check out my complete transportation and travel guide to the Gyeongju page here.
Hiking Namsan Mountain
Namsan Mountain in Gyeongju (Unification Exhibition-Seochulji Temple-Muryangsa Temple-Chilbulam Temple-Gowibong Peak-Nokwonjeongsa Temple-Tamsugol)
To complete the whole hiking experience, you need around 6 hours, including resting and consuming your food and drinks.
Have a great day. Enjoy your travels!