The Temple of the Ancient Main Hall
According to the temple records,
Sudoksa was founded by Master Sungje in the late Paekche period (18 BCE - 660 CE).
There is also another record which states that the temple was founded by one Master Chimyong in 559.
The temple has had many famous masters living and teaching in it. Kyongho (1849 - 1912), a well-known present-day master, lived here. He was ordained quite young and when he was 31, while on his way to Seoul, he saw many dead people from a recent cholera epidemic. This changed his life and he practiced hard and attained true understanding. Another personality connected with the history of the temple was a nun called Iryop (1896 - 1971), a famous writer who lived in Kyonsong-am Heritage.
One of the main temples of Korea, where there is a comprehensive training center comprised of a meditation hall, a monks college and a center for studying monks rules, Sudoksa also has a Panjang, a Spiritual Master. There are five of these specially-selected masters in Korea at any one time. When visiting Sudoksa, you pass through the dragon ornamented, granite One-Pilar Gate in order to reach the main monastery compound. The compound is terraced and the old meeting hall is out-of-line with the main axis of the temple buildings. In front of it is a three-story Shilla pagoda.
Inside the main courtyard area, there is a second, older seven-story granite pagoda dating from the Koryo Dynasty. The nearby lantern is modern, copied from an ancient one.
The Main Hall is a shrine to an important triad. It was built in 1308 and it is nothing short of a miracle that the building has stood through successive invasions in which everything of any value seems to have been destroyed everywhere in the country. The beauty of this building derives from the balance of the whole design. Its history and style have caused it to be regarded as a masterpiece of Koryo Dynasty architecture.
Inside there are three Buddhas and two Bodhisattvas. The three Buddhas represent some of the main features of Buddhism. Sakyamuni is the Historical Buddha, the original teacher. Amitabha is the Buddha of Infinite Light and Bhaisaguru is the Medicine Buddha, the Universal Healer. On the back wall of the hall is a painting of Ksitigarbha and the judgement kings and to the right there is another painting of the gods who are indigenous to Korea.
In front of the Main Hall there is beautifully-balanced Koryo period stupa.
About 15 minutes walk up the mountain, on the way to Chonghyesa, a small temple above Sudoksa, there is a ten-meter-tall granite statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha. It has a double Korean cylindrical hat, a coat reaching down to the ankles and an imposing attitude in expression carved on its face.
Nearby is the stupa erected by the disciples of Mankong in memory of their master. It is considered unusual because it has a large spherical stone on top.
There is an inscription on the stupa
"The whole world is a single flower."