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 MAISAN Provinsial Park

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temples Tapsa & Unsusa





Maisan Provincial Park is one of the smallest parks in Korea.
It is mainly justified as a nature park because of the twin peaked mountain that gave name to the area, - Maisan.
Maisan means "Horse Ears Mountain", which is a quite obvious name when looking at the twin peaks from a distance, which you clearly see from the picture below, which I took from the bus when leaving the nearby city, - Chinan.
One of the peaks, - Sut Mai -, is considered "male" and the other one, - Am Mai -, is considered "female".

Like so many other scenic or special places in Korea there is a mythical reason for the existence of this peculiar twin peaked "male" and "female" mountain.
The legend says, that long time ago two fairies, .- a male and a female -, lived here until one day their creator ordered them to come home back to heaven where they belonged. However,- no mortal eye was allowed to witness their flight. Hence the two fairies planned to ascent to heaven on the next full moon night so that their path could be lightened by the moon.
However,- on the chosen night it became overcast, so they decided to wait until dawn, but at that time it was too late - - - -
An early rising woman spotted the two fairies on their way to heaven, and instantly they were transformed into stone and fell back to the earth, where you can see them to this day, as the strange twin peaked mountain Maisan.
Fairies or not, - the fact remains, that the strange double mountain is composed from a completely different material than the surrounding mountains.

But there is much more to Maisan than the old legend of how it was created - - -
Between the two peaks you will find what is most likely the most bizarre Buddhist temple in Korea!
It is the Tapsa temple (Pagoda temple) with an amazing collection of stone pagodas made by the hermit monk, - Lee Kap-yong.
From about 1885 monk Lee spent more than 30 years creating about 130 unique stone pagodas of all shapes and sizes up to about 10 meters tall,- all built without the use of mortar. They are so well made, that even during strong winds they never collapse.
The pagodas were built mostly from local stones, but in-between are mixed stones taken from famous mountains from all over the nation.
Although only about 80 pagodas are preserved today, Lee Kap-yongs stone pagodas cannot avoid to impress and cause wonder, because he actually transformed the whole area around the Tapsa temple to a strange, surrealistic landscape that seems to belong to another world - - -

If you have a chance,- go and have a look for yourself.
But for now,- please enjoy my impressions from the Maisan mountain and the Tapsa Temple, which I had the good fortune to explore in 1997.
 
 


Maisan
- the twin Maisan peaks seen from a bus window -
The peak to the left is Sut Mai , - 678 m -, and the slightly taller one to the right is Am Mai of 685 m.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- closing in on the twin peaks, - here view to the Sut Mai -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- the view from Am Mai toward Sut Mai -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- the top of Sut Mai -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- another view towards the "female" peak Sut Mai -
Take note of the vertical crack in the mountain side.
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Maisan
- view from the top of Am Mai -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 


Maisan
- on the very top of Am Mai, - coloured ribbons to the honour of "Mother nature" -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 
 
 


Maisan
- a closer view of the crack, which leads up to a cave, which unfortunately was closed by a grating -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- a view in the opposite direction, - from the cave in Sut Mai towards Am Mai peak -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- right between the two peaks -, you find the small Unsusa temple -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- another picture of the Unsusa temple complex in a stunning natural setting -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- the Unsusa temple complex under the twin peaks -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- view to the Tapsa temple with it's two famous stone pagodas behind -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- the Tapsa Temple site surrounded by monk Yi's many stone pagodas -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- also in natural caves on the vertical mountain side above you will find many pagodas -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- another look at the mountain side -
(Photography by Karsten Pertersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- another view of the Tapsa temple site -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- and more pagodas of all shapes and sizes - -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- a closer view of Tapsa's main hall with the two impressive 10 meters high stone pagodas behind -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- the interior of Tapsa temple -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- pagodas everywhere -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- more stone pagodas and Kapsa tempel -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 
 


Maisan
- a closer look at the two big pagodas,- about 10 meters high -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- a look between the two big pagodas towards Am Mai with caves and smaller pagodas -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 
 


Maisan
- local tourists -

During my very rewarding visit to the unusual twin mountain and its strange Tapsa temple, I did not see any other foreigner, but it certainly looks as if the Koreans themselves find the place just as interesting and unique as I did.
Here some happy Korean children, which, - by the way-, must be some of the cutest and most polite children in the whole world - -
(Photography by Karsten Petersen)
 
 

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   Updated:  October 31. 2000
                  June 25th. 2003
                  Jan. 01. 2005
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