Known in Chiang Rai as the Wat Rong Khun or simply the White Temple, this Buddhist temple is situated in Pa O Don Chai, Mueang District, Thailand.
This monumental structure is really a privately owned art exhibit built in the style of a Buddhist temple.
The mastermind behind this Lanna architectural feat is the renown Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat who literally designed, constructed and opened it to the public in 1997.
These grotesque pile of bones & skulls represent the lower reaches of hell.
These rather bizarre hundreds of outreaching hands symbolise the unrestrained worldly desires & greed of the human race.
This is the Bridge that brings rebirth & ushers the way to true happiness by foregoing temptation, greed & desire.
Crossing the Bridge that leads the way to happiness by overcoming temptations, worldly desires & the greed for money.
This Bridge a gateway to heaven is adorned by a pair of Thai mythical creatures The Makara which is an aquatic monster made up of part crocodile, part elephant & part serpent. It symbolises rainfall & is often depicted on temple balustrades.
We carefully make our way towards the Gate of Heaven at the Ubosot, or the principal building which is an all-white building guarded by 2 creatures representing Death & Rahu, who decides the fate of the dead.
There is an abundant use of Naga serpents in this 3 tiered roof Thai architecture & here is a close-up look at how the embedded mirrored glass is used to adorn the building.
The interior of the Ubosot is of a major contrast to the pristine white exterior as murals depicting fiery swirling orange flames, demon faces interspersed with Western idols & images of destruction paint the horrific wickedness of humans who have destroyed & squandered the resources of the earth.
Classic Thai design elements are seen here with the use of 3 tiered-roofing & the abundant use of Naga serpents.
Lanna Temples are characterised by steeply pitched, multi tiered roofs.
Very ornate motives & intricate work is carried out to make this white building truly shine.
Windows & doors are typically small, allowing little light in as the people originally migrated from colder climes.
At the end of the 20th century, Wat Rong Khun was in a serious state of disrepair & funds were not available for renovation & Chalermchai Kositpipat rebuilt the temple funding the whole project with his own money. To date about THB1,080 million has been spent on the project.
When completed the White Temple compound will have 9 buildings including the existing Ubosot, a Hall of Relics, a Meditation Hall, an Art Gallery & living quarters for the monks.
These leaf like emblems represent the individual donations that have been received to help fund construction of the temple complex which are still ongoing today & expected to be completed by 2070. It covers the roof of the entire walkway which spans easily 50m. Kositpipat accepts donations that do not exceed THB10,000 only as he refuses to be influenced by big donors.
Chalermchai Kositpipat intends to develop the adjacent area of the temple into a centre for learning & meditation so that many people will benefit from the Buddhist teachings. He considers the temple as an offering to Buddha & believes this will give him immortal life.
I may not be a Buddhist or embrace the same philosophy as Kositpipat but I can identify with his dedication & sacrificial offering in building this spectacular structure for the benefit & enjoyment of others. Get the perfect picture when it is reflected on the waters of the little lake.
Wat Rong Khun really sparkles in the sun & it is a dazzling work of art!
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One Reply to “Snowy White!”
What an incredible feat of architecture and artistry! The White Temple is truly breathtaking and the attention to detail is impressive.
Thanks again I appreciate the post,