I live in the beautiful valley of Palolo. It’s a quiet, hilly neighborhood with lush greenery and gentle afternoon rains. Only 10 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, it’s hard to pull myself away from my serene valley home. So that’s why I decided to get out and go for a power walk in preparation for the Great Aloha Run. Following Palolo Avenue, I made a spontaneous turn and power walked myself up a challenging hill. Almost to the top, I spotted something one rarely sees in the suburbs – a brightly colored temple. Intrigued, I forfeited my training and walked into another world.
Visitors are welcomed to the hidden temple in the back of Palolo valley.
The colors are what enchanted me. The grounds of the temple consisted of five ornately hand-painted buildings, which seemed to each have a different theme: buddhas, dragons, pastoral scenes and birds were meticulously painted in hues of vermillion, mandarin, turquoise and wheat. Clay tiles blanked the peaked roofs, and I found myself wondering what the gentle Lililehua rain of Palolo sounded like on them.
As I walked through the first building, four giant figures greeted me on either side and seemed like guardians of this special place. The path then led into a huge courtyard with the rest of the buildings. Placed around the temples are ponds filled with lotus flowers, giant statues of Buddhist deities, carved rock murals and a meditation area with hundreds of small buddhist statues serenely sitting with their eyes closed and hands together in prayer,while the moss and lichens grow slowly over them.The silence of this place was only interrupted by a birds call or the cool valley breeze through the surrounding trees.Intricate details cover the temple from the ground up.
I found out that the name of this place is Mu-Ryang-Sa meaning “Broken Ridge” and has been an active Korean Buddhist temple since 1986. Boddhisatvas (think Siddhartha under the banyan tree) and Bhikku’s (Buddhist monks) use the temple as a peaceful retreat for meditation practices. Believers from the general public are also welcome to Mu-Ryang-Sa to meditate in the International meditation hall. Other features of the temple are a Myungwon tea ceremony Culture Hall, the Siddhartha College and a nursing home for elderly Buddhists. The intensive Ashtanga yoga is also taught throughout the week at the temple by a certified instructor.A peaceful retreat that’s been around for more than 20 years.
I was amazed to find this tranquil sanctuary in the heart of Honolulu and will make the effort to visit it often. If you decided to do so as well (I hope you do!), please enter with respect. Photography is allowed outside on the temple grounds, but it is culturally inappropriate to take pictures inside of the temple. Also, you may notice a few donations bowls as well. Since parking and admission is free, I encourage you to part with a couple of dollars to go towards the monks’ meals and spectacular upkeep of this area. Lastly, let the peaceful quietness of this area reduce your voice to whispers or nothing at all. Let your eyes, ears and nose guide you as you walk slowly through this hidden Honolulu gem.
MU-RYANG-SA KOREAN BUDDHIST TEMPLE • 2420 Halela’au Pl. Honolulu, HI 96816 • 808-735-7858
• Classes offered everyday except Friday • https://temple-yoga.com