Thailand is a country of temples. Some of them are similar to each other, but White Themple is absolutely unique, unbelievable and frankly, just miraculous construction. Here’s 15 facts about Wat Rong Khun that you will find intriguing, facts that will enhance your knowledge before you visit this amazing temple!
1. Chiang Rai city in Northern Thailand is definitely most popular among tourists for its White Temple – Wat Rong Khun.
2. It’s hard to believe but the temple is very modern, construction began in 1997.
3. The temple is born out of the devotion and passion of Thai artist and constructor Chalermchai Kositpipat – known primarily for his religion-themed paintings. We can say that it’s the temple of the avant-garde of Thailand. But you better see for yourself. The artist refused any help from investors, as he didn’t want anyone to limit his imagination and his creative control of the project. He had planned to construct a nine-building complex where his pupils would continue the construction some 90 years after his death.
4. The principle construction material of the temple is asbestos. It explains its whiteness and represents the purity of Buddha.
5. Absolutely everything is decorated with broken mirror mosaic pieces. The best time to visit Wat Rong Khun is at sunrise or sunset. When the morning sun shines the view is blinding.
6. There are sculptures of fabled beings all around the temple. Each of them is thought out to the most minute of details. You can watch them for hours.
7. There is a pond with beautiful fish. By the way it’s Ok to feed them.
8. As you walk through the temple grounds, you traverse through life’s endless circle: life, death and rebirth. It’s a road leading to the main entrance, which is lined with sculptures of hands reaching skyward to the heavens. The hands symbolize the sinful world.
9. Entrance fee: the entrance to the temple is free. Photography inside is forbidden, but you can buy postcards with pictures of the inside that contain the murals.
10. When you visit the White Temple you should adhere to the same rules as when you attend a regular temple in Thailand: covered shoulders, long pants. Even among the limitations is the prohibition to enter with food, dogs, umbrellas (from the sun), and you can’t smoke in the temple.
11. Inside the temple on the walls you see the pictures of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Neo in “The Matrix,” Kung Fu Panda, Avatar and other contemporary heroes. As the artist himself says, in his paintings he uses images that are understandable to modern people, he wants to get the Buddha’s teachings across to the young generation.
12. The monks at the temple can spare a word or two if you are keen to interact and when you wish to experience the worldly things on the temple grounds, first head to the restrooms, painted in Gold.
13. Visit the exhibition hall of Chalermchai Kositpipat and buy his pictures. All money goes to further the construction.
14. Find a large tree with the metallic leaves on it, each leaf was bought by the tourists. You also can buy a metallic leaf and leave your message to Buddha on the back of the leaf. You can leave your message even if you aren’t a Buddhist.
15. Unfortunately, in May 2014, the temple was badly damaged by an earthquake, it was even stated that the restoration of the beautiful building could not be done. Currently access to many areas have been closed due to large cracks in the walls. The top of the temple had fallen off and many paintings were torn away, as well as roof tiles having fallen off. Aarn Chalemchai had said after the damaging earthquake that the temple would be torn down. But architects and engineers said damage was not so severe and repairs could be made, restoring Wat Rong Khun to its full glory. Restoration is expected to take up to two years.
Be sure you’ll find many surprises while visiting Thailand White Temple and it will take your breath away! So, don’t forget to visit it while your trip to Thailand.