Naksansa Temple was founded in 671 by Buddhist Monk Uisang, founder of Hwaeomjong, or Avatamsaka (Flower Garland) Sect, in Korea.
Most of the temple's ancient structures were destroyed in a wildfire in 2005, but two famous buildings remain.
They are Uisangdae Pavilion, a pavilion standing on a steep costal cliff, and Hongnyeonam Hermitage , a hermitage devoted to Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, also located on top of a seaside rock.
Both command breathtaking sea views particularly at sunrise.
The temple has many legendary tales of the famous monk Uisang.
Avalokitesvara was said to have risen from the sea in response to his fervent prayers.
Uisangdae Pavilion was built on top of a rock by the sea, from where Uisang witnessed the bodhisattva.
Hongnyeonam Hermitage, the Red Lotus Hermitage, stands on a steep coastal cliff, where Uisang is said to have witnessed the bodhisattva emerging from a red lotus flower floating on the sea.
Old pine trees with twisted, gnarly branches standing on coastal cliffs -- the distinguishing feature of Naksansa Temple -- were lost in the wildfire, but the scenery remains fascinating with its many sea stacks.
Famous poet Jeong Cheol (1536-1593) depicted sunrise at Naksansa Temple as one of the eight scenic spots of the Gangwon region in Gwandong byeolgok (Songs of Gwandong).
Naksansa Temple is also one of the 10 scenic spots depicted in Gwandong sipgyeong (Ten Scenic Spots of Gwandong), an album of paintings carrying poetic inscriptions by various people during the reign of King Yeongjo (r. 1724-1776).
Records of the temple's construction and repairs as well as travel accounts and literary works about the temple are featured in many ancient books, including Samguk yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), Dongmunseon (Anthology of Korean Literature), and Dongguk yeoji seungnam (Augmented Survey of the Geography of Korea).