Wat Rong Khun or “The White Temple”
Wat Rong Khun is in Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Rai. The temple is originated from Ming Mueang Temple in Nan province. It has designed and constructed by Prof. Chalermchai Khositpipat since 1997 onwards. In addition, It is predicted that the construction will not end in Prof. Chalermchai era.
On 5th May 2014, 6.05 p.m., there was a 6.3 earthquake, centered in Mae Lao, Chiang Rai and many aftershocks result the temple in serious damages, such as, walls, tiles, the top of the pagoda, and drawing. Therefore, the temple had to close for reparation on 6th May in the same year.
Wat Rong Khun is located in Pha Aor Dhon Chai district, Amphoe Mueang, Chiang Rai, which is one of most significant temples in Chiang Rai since the temple was constructed by Prof. Chalermchai, a famous painter who was promoted and awarded to be the national artist, majoring in painting in 2011. He has dedicated himself to build the stunning White Temple for worshiping Buddhism and determining to create an authentic heaven on earth, portrayed by the architecting design to encourage people to do good deeds while living their lives.
History of Wat Rong Khun
Once Prof. Chalermchai came back to the village, he saw that the original White Temple which was built in his older generation was left dilapidated; therefore, he was motivated to renovate The White Temple under the era of King Rama IX. Additionally, he wanted to use his skills to build the valuable temple as national property for Thailand. Thus, he had devoted himself to construct the temple for 20 years with his own budget from selling artworks.
Moreover, Prof. Chalermchai exposed his mind that “I expected that my unique Buddhistic arts will be remembered to people all over the world, to show the greatness of Thailand which I am very proud of. If I die, my students will continue my intention till the end. I have already prepared for my death. The temple I built wasn’t for any other purpose but my own faith.”
He also stated that “This temple has never do the annual robe offered to the monks who dwelled in the monastery, never built in a hurry for any celebration. The only thing I concerned is I have to build this temple with the utmost of my skills, to be the best temple. The only thing that would be able to stop me is the death.”
The most capturing when you visit Wat Rong Khun is the “ubosot” that is outstanding in arts and architecture, catches all eyes of the tourists. Not only the Gabel apex or the ornamental roof point, but also the pure white color that shows the cleanliness of Buddha’s grace, shines brightly like no other temple.
The bridge separates the path between human and Buddha world. The small circle refers to the human world and the bigger one with fangs of the Rahul refers to endless human desires that would be burned in the mouth of the Rahul for cleaning their minds before walking to the other side. The top of the ubosot shows the precepts, concentration, and wisdom that lead to salvation.
The second-level of the Gabel apex (above) means concentration, it is symbolized with two kinds of animals which are The Great Naga and The Swan. The Naga specifies the wickedness in humans, in contrast, The Swan pointes out the goodness that the Buddha’s precepts are the weapon to eliminate the bad things (desires). To explain, when our minds are serene and clear, the wisdom would come right after. The third-level of the Gabel apex (top) refers to the intellect, but replacing the swan with the Garuda’s mouth that indicates the peacefulness from eliminating internal desires. Behind the third-level of the Gabel apex, there are 7 artworks of 7 enlightenment factors, 8 pieces to support the silver and golden umbrella refer to the Noble Eightfold Path which is the nirvana, including the designs on the highest level of the roof that attributes the Palivision: The 10 Fetters. Four corners of the poles next to the ubosot are Lanna flags for worshiping to the Buddha as Lanna’s principles mentioned.
Furthermore, there is a magnificent wall painting from Prof. Chalermchai which is a must to see for the visitors inside the ubosot. All four sides of the wall are drawn with golden color, ceilings and floors are the drawing that shows the release of the desires to the dharma which releases one from the world. Lastly, the roof of the ubosot is created with the idea of 3 main meditation principles; the precepts, concentration, and wisdom.