The White Temple or ‘Wat Rong Khun’ is a contemporary unconventional Buddhist and Hindu temple Thailand.
It’s located in Chiang Rai a beautiful little town in northern Thailand and most likely to be visited by any tourists traveling to Chiang Rai or crossing over into Laos.
The temple was boldly designed by the Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat back in 1997. It has been established by Chalermchai, who had accumulated his savings from sold paintings over 20 sales. The temple is years from almost entirely white no other colors are used at all and it sparkles throughout the day and night. It is decorated with small pieces of mirrored glass which add substantially to the temples’ spacious and magical look & it is designed to be viewed in the moonlight hours.
By the 12th year of the construction of the temple (2009), Chalermchai was only 54 and Wat Rong Khun has been visited by over five million people, 200,000 of which are foreigners. These days, the temple has become Chiang Rai’s top tourist destination due to its unusual look
With the courage to think and act boldly, he has revolutionized the repetitive and mundane style of Thai art and turned it into a new and up-to-date one. The internal administration of the temple has also been reformed to comply with international standards, with emphasis on beauty, order, cleanliness, and simplicity. Chalermchai does not want to use propaganda to solicit money from Buddhist tourists through the sale of merit, sacredness, amulets, or from the allotment of spaces in the temple to be rented as stalls to sell merchandises.
The Interior Design
The interior of Wat Rong Khun is divided into three zones.
The Buddha vasa, or the Abode of the Buddha, is on the right with posts sparsely placed as a boundary. It comprises the bot, the building where the Buddha’s relics are kept, and the Bridge of Bliss.
The Sanghavasa, or the living quarters of the Buddhist monks, is on the left opposite the Bridge of Bliss. It comprises monk cells and a big contemplation hall (to be constructed). As for the Gharavasa, or the layman quarters, it comprises an art gallery, a golden Flushing toilet, and a big preaching hall which is divided into three stories.
The ground floor serves as an all-purpose hall for performing meritorious ceremonies, holding meetings, and giving lectures on basic Dhamma on Saturdays and Sundays.
The second floor is a Dhamma library where the Buddhist doctrine is taught in Pali.
The third Floor is for meditation. Next to the preaching hall is the crematorium, built especially for the cremation of the faithful followers of Wat Rong Khun, the deceased with no relatives, the artist’s disciples, and Chalermchai himself.
Besides the division of different architectural styles, the profound meaning reflected in each work of art Chalermchai has created is also interesting. All the decorative sculptures or paintings are imbued with dharma riddles, Buddhist philosophy, and the teachings of the Buddha that the artist has industriously studied and practiced for more than 2-5 years.
He uses the white color of the architecture to represent the Buddha’s purity, the glittering mirrors to symbolize the Buddha’s Dhamma that teaches man to observe his own mind and reflect loving-kindness towards humankind.
The Bridge of the Cycle of Rebirth in front of the bot represents human sorrow and happiness, showing that the way to reach Buddha or happiness and total annihilation must pass through Hell, meaning cravings. When cravings have been eliminated, one can proceed to the Gate of Heaven guarded by Rahu (Mara) on the left and Death on the right. Rahu is the controller of man’s fate and Death is the controller of man’s life. To grasp Dhamma, one must understand both Rahu and Death and get rid of greed, anger, infatuation, fear, and confusion, concentrating on the practice of controlling one’s mind to eliminate cravings and then step up to Mount Sumeru, which represents happiness.
There are six levels of heaven on the Sithandon Ocean, with the number 8 representing the Noble Path in the pond below. Walking down one reaches the 16 levels of the Realm of Brahmas, represented by 16 celestial lotus flowers around the middle Ubosot (the main shrine hall). The largest four lotuses on both sides of the entrance of the Ubosot represent the niches housing the four noble types of monks consisting of ones who have attained the first, second, third, and fourth stages of holiness. Three more steps, signifying impermanence, suffering and non-self, lead up to the four levels of the Realm of the Formless Brahmas, represented by four illuminated celestial lotuses. The triangular main glass pane represents emptiness (the extinction of all defilements and sufferings).
Much more can be said about Wat Rong Khun, but There is nothing like visit the place and see its magnificent with your own eyes..