Wat Rong Khun – the white temple

I’ve long been an admirer of the art of Chalermchai Kositpipat, who was one of the prime movers to break Thai buddhist art away from slavishly following tradition and modernise it. So when I heard that he is building a temple called Wat Rong Khun in his home village in Chiang Rai, I was delighted to receive an invitation to look around it.

Chalermchai’s temple is pure white (see gallery), which makes it shine magically in the Thai sun. The entrance to the main prayer hall has a disconcerting sea of hands, reaching out from hell to beg for help.

The wat is still under construction; Chalermchai reckons it will take another 70–90 years to complete, and it’s was splendid to see the workshop full of unfinished giants and dragons.

Then came the obligitory mug to the camera with Ajarn Chalermchai and get some beautiful signed prints of his paintings which he sells to raise money for the building work. This is a fabulous place, and well worth a visit if you’re in Chiang Rai.

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