Wat Rong Khun
The Wat Rong Khun, or better known among most tourists as the White Temple in Chiang Rai, is an eccentric, contemporary, and privately owned art exhibit that is displayed in the form of a Buddhist temple that can be located in the beautiful and alluring province of Chiang Rai. Chalermchai Kositpipat, a very popular Thai artist, is the person who owns this property and is also responsible for its construction and design, deciding to eventually open it to the public in the year 1997. The White Temple Chiang Rai is open for visitors all year round without any charge for its admission.
Chiang Rai White Temple is easy to recognize in Thailand since it sits outside Chiang Rai where it easily attracts huge numbers of visitors around the area; Thais and foreigners often visit the temple which makes it among the highly visited attractions in town. The Wat Rong Khun Chiang Rai is definitely one of those temples that was designed in a uniquely distinct fashion which makes it stand out because of its sheer, pristine whiteness; moreover, the utilization of various fragments of glass in plasters sparkle beautifully against the suns rays which make this spectacle something worth seeing.
At this time, the temple is still unfinished and the process of building and designing the property is still ongoing; eventually, the presence of nine buildings can be viewed which includes an ubosot or ordination hall, a place to consecrate Buddhist artifacts, a hall strictly for meditation, living quarters for the monks in the temple, and also an art wing for tourists to view once they visit the White Temple Chiang Rai. Although the Wat Rong Khun is designed differently and uniquely compared to all the other temples in Thailand, it is still recognized as a place of worship and is also honored as a sacred site for the Thais for rituals and prayers. Even local tourists visit the temple to admire its design and creativity while at the same time, respect it for its religious significance.
While at the hall of the White Temple Thailand, you must be mindful and particular about your behavior while also being respectful towards the images of Buddha present. Taking photos are allowed around the temple grounds, however, it is not allowed within the walls of the Wat Rong Khun.
History of the White Temple Chiang Rai
By the end of the twentieth century, the original White Temple Chiang Rai was in a terrible state yet despite having inadequate amounts of funds available, the owner and designer decided to completely repair the temple while funding the whole project using his own money instead. The owner wants the available area that neighbors the white temple to be a place of knowledge, learning, and meditation for those who wish to acquire benefits from the teachings of Buddha. Kositpipat regards the temple as an offering to Buddha and believes that pushing through with the project of rebuilding it will provide him with the gift of immortality.
As of today, work on the Wat Rong Khun is still ongoing and is not expected to finish until the year 2070; while donations are widely accepted, admittance to the temple’s compound is free. However, even if the repairs are still ongoing in the White Temple Chiang Rai, the temple was unfortunately damaged on the 5th of May 2014 due to an earthquake in the Mae Lao province, and because of this, it was closed indefinitely.
On the 6th of May, the owner of the temple decided that he would have the structures demolished for safety reasons and confirmed that he would not rebuild these further. Yet on May 7, after expert engineers have inspected and confirmed that the buildings on the property were unharmed by the previous earthquake, the owner suddenly declared that he would once again restore the Chiang Rai White Temple and bring it back to its original artistry, swearing that he would devote his life to this. Furthermore, the owner also stated that the temple would be open to the public the next day, except for the other buildings specifically the ubosot, where tourists are only admitted to take photos outside.
Location and Visiting Hours
The temple can be found thirteen kilometers away from Chiang Rai and can be reached via songthaew or public bus from the Old Bus Station. When these vehicles back to Chiang Rai leave from the police station front, flag them down once they pass since most of them will drive to the city; if not by bus or songthaew, you can take a tuk-tuk instead where the driver of these can wait for you for the trip back.
White Temple Chiang Rai is open every day from six thirty in the morning to six in the evening while the art gallery is available from eight in the morning to five thirty in the afternoon on Mondays to Fridays. However during the weekends and during holidays, the art gallery opens at eight in the morning but closes at six in the evening instead.
Structures and their Symbolisms
Every detail that is exhibited within the Wat Rong Khun has a deep religious meaning, but some Thais admit that even they are unaware of these messages unless they have studied or researched about its mysteries. The owner chose to build the temple in pure white this is to symbolize the immaculateness of Buddha with mirrors entrenched in the building to reflect light which represents the wisdom of Buddha that emanates across the world and the whole universe.
Almost all of the messages depicted within the temple refer to the desire of escaping, passion, greed, and leaving these to move towards the heavenly teachings of Buddhism. You will need to cross an opening that is guarded by demons before crossing the bridge that settles over a myriad of ghastly hands that reach out from death and rebirths cycle. The structure of the temple symbolizes and displays the world of Buddha while ascending to a state of nirvana.