WHITE TEMPLE, CHIANG RAI

If you are in the north of Thailand you can’t miss the most eccentric temple in South East Asia. It’s the best Wat I have seen in all my life long. This famous temple is called Wat Rong Khum or White Temple and is a contemporary structure made in 1997. The Wat isn’t finished yet, due to the earthquake that hit Thailand in 2014. It’s estimated that the works will end in 2070, in the meantime tourists from all over the world give their economic contribution by buying some particular ornaments to adorn the temple. The eclectic mind that created this Wat is Chalermchai Kosotpipat, a famous architect that changed the very meaning of classic ancient temples. In fact, he created a perfect hybrid between sacred and profane, between hell and paradise, half Buddhist and half Hindu.

By observing the temple from a distance it looks like sparkling, ultra white and shining under the sun. The temple was building with white lime that represents the purity of Buddha, associated to lots of little fragments of mirrors distributed all over the Wat.

But getting closer to the temple you can see all the creative details. By crossing the bridge that conduce into the temple, in the middle of a little lake – that is quite full of carps – there is a sculpture that represents thousands of arms getting from the ground to the sky. These arms symbolise suffering, death, hell and the seven deadly sins, so these arms are asking for help. That’s the reason why, if you walk along the bridge you can’t come back. It’s a slow walking just in one way. If you try to come back the guardians will tell to you: “Don’t come back to the hell”. That means you cannot come back and help the painful souls.

In fact, the bridge represent the cycle of rebirth, from a state of suffering to the welfare of the soul.

Inside the Wat the feeling is different and then quite shocking. All the walls are full of modern and imaginative characters like Batman, Hello Kitty, Elvis Presley, Superman, etc. that represents the Samsara, the realm of rebirth and illusion. There is also the airplane that crashed on the Twin Towers. Unfortunately inside the Wat is not permitted to take photos.

It’s for sure an unconventional and singolar temple. Even If it’s bizzarre exhale peacefulness and tranquillity.

G.F

 

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