Wat Rong Khun, the white temple

The White Temple of Chiang Rai, I had heard about it... I had seen pictures of it... so much so that the visit of this place had become a priority in the order of my visits in Chiang Rai... but I must admit that my daughter was much more impatient than me to discover this very particular temple.

Located 13 km from the city, you can see this work from the 4 lanes, I would even say that you can't miss it.
In fact, if this site is called Wat Rong Kun, that is to say the Temple of Rong Kun ... it is not considered as a temple in the true sense of the word by the Thai people, (nor by myself for that matter).

There are no monks in residence, no prayers, it is thus in a spirit of "visit of artistic work" that it is advisable to prepare oneself by crossing the entry gate, even if the artist wanted to make of this unit, an offering to Buddha.

After a few minutes, you will realize by yourself, that there is no true soul in this rather strange place.
Chalermchai Kositpipat, an artist from Chiang Rai, decided to make the renovation of the temple a personal project. He will take over the renovation work, remodelling it entirely to give it the look it has today, blending classicism and tradition with modern Thai art. According to the artist himself, the temple, which should eventually consist of 9 buildings, should not be finished before ... 2070!

The White Temple or Wat Rong Khun is a complex ensemble, with many allegories that can be observed in each building, in the sculptures, frescoes etc...

Everywhere the visitor is encouraged to free himself from earthly desires and temptations, through meditation, contemplation and Buddhist teachings, playing with the classical concepts of hell and paradise.

This being said, bravo the artist, it is beautiful work, meticulous, a long term work, where every detail has its importance too, and I especially welcome the idea that came to this renowned Thai artist to create a white temple, a work that is out of the ordinary, that surprises every visitor, and you will see at the end of the article that visitors from all walks of life are very numerous...

Always admiring the creators and their imaginations as surprising as they are... I can only take my hat off to Chalermchai Kositpipat.

It is certain that this work does not leave one indifferent.

Discover the white temple of Chiang Rai, Wat Rong Khun, a very special work of art.

Breaking with most other temples, this one is extraordinarily white, to symbolize the purity of Buddhism, and inlaid with pieces of mirror to suggest the reflection of enlightenment. To get there, you will have to pass between two giant fangs and a lake dotted with creatures from the underworld. This is one of the strangest constructions ever designed by man.

It was supposed to be completed in 2008, but is not finished yet. The complex will consist of 9 buildings, which will constitute the vision of the Buddhist paradise on earth as imagined by the artist. The financing of the temple is ensured by the sale of the paintings of the temple, which will be exhibited and sold in an annex building. 

From that point of view, the whole thing is beautiful: "He's got a face"
A white temple, it's really not common





The Reincarnation Bridge leads to the Ubosot, the main building, home of Buddha, symbolizing Nirvana. It overlooks a parterre of hundreds of outstretched white arms representing the earthly pains and sufferings that must be disposed of in order to reach Nirvana and thus leave the cycle of reincarnations.

After crossing the Bridge of Reincarnations, you will arrive at the Gate of Heaven, symbolized by two enormous fangs rising from the ground (the mouth of Rahu) and then by two statues of Rahu and Death, which decide the fate of mortals (return to the cycle of reincarnations or reach Nirvana). It can be compared to Christian purgatory.

The Ubosot is the central part of the temple and the main building. Entirely white to symbolize purity, it is also covered with small pieces of mirrors to represent Buddha's Enlightenment and wisdom "which shines over the whole Earth and the Universe". It is just as impressive to see by day as it is by night, in the light of the Moon for which it was intended. Inside, you will discover frescoes where Superman, George W. Bush and other figures of contemporary culture share the limelight with Buddhist characters such as the Najas.

Just before crossing the footbridge to the temple, these strange hands stretched out, supposedly representing hell





In this very special environment, there are nevertheless some pleasant and soft statuettes .




Some workers work continuously... and do a remarkable job of meticulous work

Each small piece of glass, one by one, is cleaned from the cement splashes











The visitor is encouraged to free himself from earthly desires and temptations.

Slowly installed and consuming a good cappuccino a few steps away, perfect technique to make you forget,
I had fun taking some pictures of tourists from all walks of life posing for the memory...
Fun and friendly scenes but finally so classic in this kind of place....

 Artist's Biography

Chalermchai Kositpipat was born into a Sino-lanna family. His father was a Chinese immigrant from Guangdong, while his mother is Thai Chinese. He then attended Silpakorn University, which was Thailand's leading visual arts school. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Thai art in 1977.

He began painting film advertisements on billboards. His early murals mixed traditional Thai Buddhist temple art with contemporary images, which was controversial. Nevertheless, in 1988, he was commissioned to paint murals for Wat Buddhapadipa in London. These murals took four years and were controversial because of their contemporary style. "I received complaints from everyone - from the [Thai] government, monks and other artists, saying what I was doing was not Thai art," he said in 1998.

In 1980, Acharn Chalermchai Kositpipat made his first foreign visit to Sri Lanka and stayed for six months, studying architecture, sculpture, painting and Sri Lankan Buddhist temples. He was influenced by the white statues and temples of Sri Lanka. 

Acharn Chalermchai worked closely with the veteran Sri Lankan artist Manju Sri. In 1980,

Acharn Chalermchai had his own solo exhibition at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery in Colombo, Sri Lanka. After the exhibition, he took these works of art to Thailand and sold them all [quote required].

His work eventually gained wider acceptance, with Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej among his clients. One of his works sold for US$17,500 in 1998 at a Thai art auction at Christie's Singapore and another, Food Offering to Monks, sold for US$59,375 on March 7, 2018.

Among his works is Wat Rong Khun, an ornate white Buddhist temple under construction in his home province of Chiang Rai. Construction work on the temple began in 1997 and is still ongoing.
"Only death can stop my dream, but it cannot stop my project," Chalermchai said of the temple, adding that he believed the work would give it "immortal life". He was the first visual arts winner of the first Silpathorn Award, created in 2004 to honour contemporary Thai artists living in mid-career.

He has been honoured in 2011 by the Thai National Culture Commission as a national artist.