Wat Rong Khun is a groundbreaking contemporary Buddhist temple in Thailand’s area of Chiang Rai. It was designed by renowned Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and constructed at his own expense as an act of piety and devotion towards Lord Buddha and the religion he founded. Today Wat Rong Khun is a noteworthy attraction that draws both local and foreign visitors.
The design of Wat Rong Khun is distinctive, and it is utterly beautiful, particularly when viewed in moonlight. Its entire exterior is uniformly white, with embellishment in white glass. The purity of Lord Buddha is projected by the colour white, while the white-hued glass represents the wisdom of Lord Buddha which is said to illuminate the entire universe.
The temple is reached by crossing a bridge, which represents the attainment of nirvana from the cycle of suffering and rebirth. The human world is represented by a little semicircle which stands near the bridge. The mouth of Rahu, representing mental impurity is depicted by a large circle with fangs, and is a depiction of suffering and the hellish abodes. Also on the bridge may be seen figures of awe-inspiring giants, while beneath may be seen many hands rising beseechingly; these represent the suffering of sinners in hell. Alongside the bridge the visitor will see a number of sculptures of a Buddha engaged in meditation resting on a lotus and encircled by various spirits.
The visitor will cross a large pond with fountains and fish which appear on the surface of the water periodically. This pond is sometimes taken to represent the river which separates heaven from the material world.
The temple’s assembly hall features numerous paintings in tones of gold. The ceiling, floor and four walls display paintings which demonstrate a refuge from the defilements of sin and temptation enabling the attainment of a supramundane level of consciousness. Several altars dedicated to Buddha may be seen, seemingly immersed in golden light.
Atop the roof the visitor will see representations of different animals, each with a spiritual significance corresponding to the elements of fire, wind, water and earth. A maned lion represents fire; wind is represented by the wings of a swan; water is symbolized by a naga (serpent); and earth is symbolized by an elephant.
Remarkably, even the toilet found in the compound is a work of art, with a resplendent golden-hued appearance that suggests ethereal beauty.
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