The White Temple of Chiang Rai

watrongkhun

From the moment we pulled up to Wat Rong Khun, or the White Temple, we were completely mesmerized. A short 5 km drive south of the city did not prepare us for the completely different experience we would have at this temple versus any other one we visited in Thailand.

redskulls

The red skull cones which mark the area of the temple notify you immediately that you have entered a new type of Wat (temple). This one is the creation of the Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. He has laid out the plans for the temple as a 9 building area whose main temple will not be complete until 2020. I was reminded of the Gaudi Sagrada Familia in Barcelona as we approached. The artist used his vision of Buddhism, kharma, heaven, hell and earthly sins.

whitetemplechiangrai

The White Temple is white to represent the pure sacredness of temples. The white mirrored pieces reflect the light of the sky making the temple almost otherworldly.

The symbolism is everywhere. Before you enter the gate you are met with two pieces to represent Buddha’s teachings that we should not abuse our bodies, so no smoking and no drinking.

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There were pots hanging from trees growing moss which had the coolest faces, some laughing, some evil looking. I felt as though they were representing the different spirits of the underworld.

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Once we bought tickets (required only for foreigners, locals get to visit for free) we started our walk towards the main temple. Along the path are gorgeous sculptures of fire breathing beasts in a mote type of water feature. They lead the way to purgatory filled with hands grasping and different sculptures of creatures and people.

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As you walk over the bridge towards the temple the light shimmers off of the pieces of mirrored glass that adorn the White Temple. They make this magnificent white sculpture a shining tribute to the Buddhist faith. At the temple are massive guardians, along with angels, and other beings marking the ascension from purgatory into a holy and sacred place. Unfortunately the incredible Buddha in the temple is not allowed to be photographed.

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After seeing the temple you take a path which leads you to long corridors going left and right. At first you hear a soft subtle sounds of metal, like a wind chime blowing in the wind. It is completely enchanting. When you reach the walkway and look up you find the masses of metal flowers and bells hanging from the ceiling moving in the wind and creating this beautiful sound. I could have stood there for days and just listened while taking in this gorgeous temple, J of course would not stand there for days so we bought our own bells, wrote messages and left them to be hung at the temple forever.

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The White Temple continually amazes with soft garden spaces, beautiful gold bells, statues and the most creative lost and found I have ever seen. While you are there check out the art gallery which displays the work of this amazing artist.

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This building would be the bathroom…

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To say that this Wat blew me away and inspired me is an understatement. I consider it one of the best things we did/saw in Thailand. It is worth the trip to Chiang Rai to see this, the Black House and the Night Markets.

 

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