The wat rong khun temple features a mural depicting a plane hitting the Twin Towers as Spiderman and an Angry Bird look on.
Wat Rong Khun, or the White Temple, is one of over 33,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand. Wat Rong Khun is a magnificent place of worship that stands out from the country’s traditional temples, one that can easily be considered one of the top places to visit in Thailand. Near the city of Chiang Rai, in northern Thailand, shines Wat Rong Khun, a Buddhist temple poised to become one of the most stunningly beautiful in the world. It features a mural depicting a plane hitting the Twin Towers as Spiderman and an Angry Bird look on. Wat Rong Khun, better known as “the White Temple” is one of the most recognizable temples in Thailand. The temple outside the town of Chiang Rai attracts a large number of visitors, both Thai and foreign, making it one of Chiang Rai’s most visited attractions. Wat Rong Khun is a unique temple that stands out through the white color and the use of pieces of glass in the plaster, sparkling in the sun. The white color signifies the purity of the Buddha, while the glass symbolizes the Buddha’s wisdom and the Dhamma, the Buddhist teachings. Perhaps the most unique temple in the Kingdom of Thailand, the White Temple was born from the devotion of National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. A deeply devout Buddhist famed primarily for his religious-themed paintings, Chalermchai began the White Temple in 1997. Wat Rong Khun however is no traditional temple. Chalermchai re-imagines Thai art for the modern world. As you move through the temple grounds, you find yourself in the artist’s surreal vision of Buddhist teachings. Superheroes, movie stars and cartoons make their entrance into temple murals depicting traditional Buddhist motifs. Fantastical sculptures and architecture cover the landscape.
Started in 1997, Wat Rong Khun isn’t a working temple, but more an artistic expression and experience. Between the contrasting subject matter (desperate hands reaching up at you as walk past followed by intricate white lotus blossoms shimmering with hundreds of tiny mirrors), surprising figures and blatant messages you don’t normally find at temples (like the heads of Batman and Freddy Kreuger, and demon skulls mounted on top of whiskey bottles), the temple is a mix of the bizarre, beautiful and creepy.
Structures and Symbolism
Every detail of the temple carries meaning and encourages the visitor to reflect on the Buddhist teachings that show the way to escape from the worldly temptations, desires and greed and focus on the mind instead. Inside the Wat Rong Khun Temple the walls are painted with larger than life, colorful characters related to Buddhism, in a very contemporary style. The artist uses icons from modern culture and through space ships, Superman, and even Neo from the Matrix movie he tells the story of Buddha in a very unique manner. It’s like entering a comic book that kids but not only will love.
Tourist Attractions to See
There are many tourist sight and attraction for visitors around the temple. Have a look at the golden toilet. Remember how Chalermchai felt white was a more appropriate colour for a temple? He specifically chose gold for the restroom to indicate worldiness. An extremely opulent building — the most luxurious toilet in the kingdom — it’s apparently a comment on how people worship worldly desires and what the real value in these things is. Visit the art gallery. This relatively small building houses a number of the artist’s masterpieces. You can also buy high quality reproductions or books and postcards if you’d like.