Wat Rong Khun “The White Temple” of Chiang Rai

Wat Rong Khun “The White Temple” of Chiang Rai

The White Temple in Chiang Rai is a site not to be missed on your trip to Thailand!

 You may have seen pictures of the glittering white facade before

 One of the most unique, and somewhat bizarre, destinations in Southeast Asia,

The white temple completely rebuild late 20th century onward.

Wat Rong Khun, better known as “the White Temple” is one of the amazing recognizable temples in Thailand.

 The temple outside the town of Chiang Rai attracts a huge number of visitors, both Thai and foreign, making it one of Chiang Rai’s most visited attractions.

Wat Rong Khun in white color which is very unique temple that stands out through the use of pieces of glass in the plaster, sparkling and shine in the sun.

The white color reflects & signifies the purity of the Buddha, while the glass symbolizes the Buddha’s wisdom and the Dhamma, the Buddhist teachings.

Temples in Thailand are very often decorated or adorned in gold trim but the creator choose to use white instead.

And rather than white be used as an accent color, the brilliant color (or lack thereof) envelopes the buildings from roof to footer, as well as the surrounding bridges, fences, and statues.

Chalermchai Kositpipat is the designer of The Wat Rong Khun, a famous Thai visual artist. To date the temple is not finished.

Eventually there will be nine buildings including an ubosot, a hall to enshrine Buddhist relics, a meditation hall, the monks living quarters and an art gallery.

After the strongest earthquick hit Chaing Rai On May 5th 2014,  the white temple was badly damaged, at that time Chalermchai Kositpipat decided to restore and further expand the Wat Rong Khun.

History of that great white temple was started at the end of the 20th century, the original Wat Rong Khun was in a very poor state of preservation.

Restoration works on the temple started, but had to be halted due to a lack of funds and money.

Chalermchai Kositpipat, a creative artist was born in Chiang Rai, decided to completely rebuild the temple and fund the project with his own money.

Chalermchai Kositpipat was born in Chiang Rai, the same city in which the temple is built, Kositpipat has dedicated his life to restoring and further developing the White Temple, which is known locally as Wat Rong Khun.

 The artist built the temple to be a center of learning and meditation and for people to gain benefit from the Buddhist teachings. Today the works are ongoing.

Although the temple construction began in 1997, changes are constantly being made to the buildings and the surrounding gardens.

The artist continues to make small additions and alterations to the nine buildings that make up the compound. In fact, it is estimated that his work will not be finished for several more decades and will be carried on by others after his death.

The Chalermchai Kositpipat is believed to have spent a total of THB40 million (approximately AU$1,516,430) on rebuilding the temple and plans to create areas around the temple that will showcase the benefits of Buddhist teachings including meditation and learning.

While work continues on the masterpiece, it is open to the public all year round with free admission.

  • Main Structure:

All details of the white temple represents and  carries meaning and encourages the visitor to reflect on the Buddhist teachings that show the way to escape from the worldly temptations, desires and greed and focus on the mind instead.

·        The bridge of “the cycle of rebirth”

The ubosot, the main building of the white temple, is reached by crossing a bridge over a small lake. In front of the bridge is a circular area with hundreds of reaching hands that symbolize desire.

This area represents human suffering and hell. The bridge towards the ubosot, called the bridge of “the cycle of rebirth” signifies the crossing over from the cycle of death and rebirth into a state free of suffering.

It symbolizes the way to happiness by overcoming worldly things as temptations, greed and desire.

Next to the lake stand two very elegant Kinnaree, half human, half bird.

 a creature from Buddhist mythology.

The “Gate of Heaven”

Visitor arrives to the “Gate of Heaven” After crossing the bridge the at the guarded by two huge creatures that represent Death and Rahu, who decides over men’s fate. At the end of the bridge in front of the ubosot are several Buddha images in meditation.

  • The golden building

A structure that stands out because of its color is the rest rooms building.

Another very ornately decorated structure, this golden building represents the body, whereas the white ubosot represents the mind.

The gold symbolizes how people focus on worldly desires and money. The golden building represents the idea to make merit and to focus on the mind, instead of material things and possession.

·        Other structures

Around the temple grounds are several concrete “trees” with thousands of medallions hanging down from them. For 30 Baht you can add yours with your name written on it.

Visitors of the temple make a wish throwing a few coins into the wishing well.

To get an impression of the tremendous amount of work done to build the white temple take a look in the large building behind the temple. In the hall staff apply hand made pieces of mosaic mirror to various parts before they get assembled into a building.

 White temple opens every day from 6:30 am to 6 pm. Plan to give yourself at least 40 minutes to explore the grounds and various buildings that make up the entire White Temple complex.

It is not difficult to arrange a tour to the White Temple

On your tour, you can also visit the completely opposite, yet equally intriguing, “Black House”, another artistic representation of a Thai temple yet with a darker, more sinister side. Both places hold a local religious and cultural significance, visitors are encouraged to wear polite attire that covers shoulders and knees, especially women.

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