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Friday, January 11, 2013

White Temple of Chiang Rai: Unique and Interesting Contemporary Art

A temple or Buddhist monastery is usually associated with some creativity, a feeling of spirituality and lots of prayer. But, the White temple is so much different. It is a figment of one’s imagination along with some common sense all converted into beautiful designs. It is a work of contemporary art that has been built in pure white color.

Reflections of the White Temple, Chiang Rai
The interesting thing about the White temple is that its construction began in 1996 and it is believed that the work will get complete in 60-90 years. But, even in its current partial completed state, it is quite a sight with its min-blowing appeal and the sense of imagination that has been converted into sculptures.

Statue at White Temple, Chiang Rai
To start with, the entire temple is pure white in colour. Everything is in white. The outside walls, the sculptures, the Buddha inside, the pillars, the surrounding buildings and even the fish in the ponds around the temple.

The Beautiful White Temple of Chiang Rai
Then, there are these unique bits of imagination that you see in the temple. A maze of hands trying to come up. It looks like they are either stuck in quick sand or in hell. There are common sense items that depict hell for smokers and drinkers.

Contemporary Design of White Temple
Then, there are weird looking heads hanging on trees. The surprising thing is that none of these heads look like a local person. In fact, they look more American and European to me.

Golden tower next to White Temple, Chiang Rai
There is also a golden building nearby the White Temple and this golden colour beautifully contrasts the pure white temple to its side. The golden temple looks beautiful during the early and the latter hours of the day, while the White temple looks best when the sun is straight overhead.

White Heads at Chiang Rai's White Temple
So depending on your preference, you can visit the temple accordingly. Personally, I visited just before the closing hours and was lucky to get good reflection shots, though I did realize that I would have got better temple photographs had I visited the temple in the noon hours with a circular polarizer filter to cut away the excessive reflections and to get a richer blue in the sky. A killer combo to have!!

After closing hours at White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand
The White Temple, known locally as Wat Rong Khun after the village Ban Rong Khun where it is located, is situated about 15 kilometers from Chiang Rai. If you are staying near the bus station terminal 1, a tuk tuk should cost you 200 baht (2 people) for a return journey with a waiting period of 1 hour.

Exquisite White Temple at Chiang Rai, Thailand
If you wish for a cheaper fare, take the mini bus from bus station terminal 1 to terminal 2 for 10 baht per person and then take the tuk tuk for 80-100 baht. The temple does not have an entrance fee, though do ensure that you reach the temple before 5 pm as the temple authorities strictly close the temple by 5 pm.

White Temple in monochrome
If you are visiting Chiang Rai or even passing by, I would recommend taking 30 minutes out to visit this temple and simply admire its intricate work and beautiful imagination.



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