Heungguksa Temple, which is located in a deep valley of Suraksan Mountain, is not very big, but its history goes back to the Silla period.It belongs to the Korean Buddhist Jogye Order. Built by monk Wongwang in 599, it was named Suraksa. In 1568, the state built a shrine for Deokheung Daewongun and renamed it Heungdeoksa. The temple was rebuilt in 1626, and its name was changed to the current one. In 1818, most of the living quarters for monks were burnt down. After 4 years, at the king’s order, monk Giheo built the main building Daeungjeon Hall and Buddhist sanctum. In 1878, monk Yongam rebuilt the lost temple again; since it has the grave of Deokheung Daewongun, the temple was usually called “Deokjeol.”Currently, within the temple are Daeungjeon, Yeongsanjeon, Manwolbojeon, Dokseongjeon, Siwangjeon, and Sansinjeon Halls.
Daebang Hall of Heungguksa Temple
Daebang Hall of Heungguksa Temple is registered as cultural heritage No. 471. It has a different appearance from the Buddhist sanctum of other general temples, built in the style of Buddhist complex equipped with auxiliary space consisting of a Buddhist prayer space and a kitchen. The temple was burnt down after a reconstruction in 1821 but was rebuilt in 1870. The building reflects the architectural style of the late Joseon period when the pure land belief and Buddhist prayer practices flourished including the architectural characteristics of the modern times. It has a compound space consisting of living quarters, kitchen, and tower, centering on a big room built in the style of a Buddhist prayer room. It is a wooden building with a parallel structure in the shape of “H,” spanning an area of 363.59㎡.
Daeungjeon Hall plays the role of a Buddhist altar with a space for believers to do their prayers. The building is placed at the center of the temple so that it is visible through the courtyard and for believers to pray while looking at the Daeungjeon. The word “Daebang” currently means a big room where monks get together and eat or reside; in the past, however, it used to refer to a Buddhist sanctum where monks pray. From the 19th century when Buddhist prayers became very popular and temples needed a space to accommodate believers, Daebang was established. Today, however, Daebang has disappeared in most temples.
Some temples still have Daebang, and Daebang Hall of Heungguksa Temple takes on a modern style; thus, the architectural characteristics and spatial composition are very distinctive. Even though the interior spatial composition has changed, the overall structure retains its original form. Unlike the traditional style, the building has a multi-function that reflects the characteristics of Korean Buddhism during the 19th century, so it has historical value. It was registered as Cultural Heritage No. 471 on April 29, 2011.