After almost two months in Thailand and 3 weeks in Burma I don’t really get interested in seeing more temple. Of course, I may stop and step in or walk around, but it is not any close to I-have-to-see-that-temple. All temples (but one) look more or less the same. With variations of decorations and color palette, but still the same. Like palaces or castles in Europe, if you know what I mean. All temples, but one….the White temple of Chiang Rai or Wat Rong Khun as it is called in Thai. I had seen pictures of it, and was quite eager to see it. Seeing pictures is one things, seeing the temple itself is completely different. It is mind blowing. To say that the White temple is unusual is to say nothing. Extraordinary, creepy, strange, weird….or inspiring, impressive, exhilarating….you should decide for yourself.
From distance it looks like a fairy tale temple. It is completely white like made of ice and snow. This makes it totally stand out among other temples. Painted all white for purity with glittering glass for the teaching of the Buddha, the temple is designed by the Thai Buddhist artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, and is expected to be finished in 2070. But the color is not the only details which makes it different.
Once you get closer you start noticing all the unusual and creepy details. Approaching the temple and going over the bridge leading to the temple itself must be allegory of purification, going through pain and suffering to enlightenment. The approach to the bridge is flanked by pits with hands stretching up in agony as if asking for help. Two huge fangs are further on look like you are entering a mouth of a huge beast.
If you manage to pass those you will be greeted by two giant monster sentries who guard the Gate of Heaver. These are Rahu (the One who controls men’s fate) on the left and…
…Death (The One who controls men’s life) on the right.
Once you are on the bridge you are on the right way to enlightenment and purification – you will reach the temple.
The temple inside looks as many other temples (at first sight) with a big Buddha in the center. However if you look around you will see that wall murals are what makes this temple even more special or weird. You can see Spiderman, Batman, Angry Birds and Burning Twin Towers (9/11)….
Taking photos inside is prohibited by I managed to snapped a couple of them and I am preparing a short report with the unusual for a Buddhist temple murals. Please check for my next report on the White temple.
For now check out more pictures of this extraordinary Buddhist temple complex and share with me what you think about it.
Have you visited the White Temple? What did you feel?
What do you think about it? Is it weird or inspiring?