15 November 2011

A Fusion of Creative Art and Spiritual Buddhism at the Splendid White Temple

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The White Temple, also known as Wat Rong Khun is a work of art by the world renowned artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat who longed to build a modern temple signifying the wisdom and the spiritualistic lessons of Buddhism coupled with modern art which would appeal to the present and future generations. This stunning temple has an exterior created solely in white to symbolize the purity of Buddha and also has mirror work included. It is located south of the city of Chiang Rai and is about 5 kilometres from the main city in northern Thailand. Work on this temple began in 1997 under Chalermchai Kositpipat’s initiative and direction.

To enter the main temple visitors must cross a bridge. However, this is no ordinary bridge as sculptures denoting lost souls in hell with pleading outstretched hands and two gigantic guards who stand watching, all convey that this bridge is a rite of passage to the spiritual pathway that the Buddhism beckons its devotees to follow.

Another aspect of interest is a large pond with white fish and fountains that sprout up in a rhythmic manner, symbolizing the division of hell from heaven and is also styled after the river Si Tarndon. Just before the entrance to the main chapel many sculptures denote Lord Buddha in a meditation pose on a bed of lotuses and encircled by the numerous spirits of the world.

Travellers are in for a surprise as they enter the main temple where there is a stark contrast of colours in the interior while the exterior is pure white. An interesting feature is the wall paintings which portray the numerous teachings of Lord Buddha. This makes the centuries old teachings easily accessible to the younger generation.

The temple, Kositpipat’s labour of love, which in the future would have a pagoda, monastery and preaching halls among other facilities is a great place to visit to learn about the sacred teachings of Buddhism. To help experience the splendid White Temple, travellers can stay at the Anantara Golden Triangle, Thailand, one of the many Chiang Rai hotels. This exceptional hotel in Chiang Rai offers its guests a luxurious stay with accommodation such as the deluxe rooms with its teakwood floors, overlooking picturesque views of the countryside.