201405_1727 Thailand, Wat Rong Khun, White Temple (after the earthquake)
Wat Rong Khun (Thai: วัดร่องขุ่น), perhaps better known to foreigners as the "white temple" is a contemporary, unconventional, privately owned, art-exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand. It was designed, constructed, and owned by Chalermchai Kositpipat, who opened it daily to visitors in 1997. There is no charge for admission.
By the end of the 20th century, the original Wat Rong Khun was in a bad state of repair. Funds were not available for renovation. Chalermchai Kositpipat, a local artist from Chiang Rai, decided to completely rebuild the temple and fund the project with his own money.To date, Chalermchai has spent THB40 million of his own money on the project.The artist intends for the area adjacent to the temple to be a center of learning and meditation and for people to gain benefit from the Buddhist teachings. Kositpipat considers the temple to be an offering to Lord Buddha and believes the project will give him immortal life. Today the works are ongoing, but are not expected to be completed until 2070. Admission to the wat compound is free. Donations are accepted, but are not to exceed THB10,000, as Chaermchai refuses to be influenced by big donors.
Structures and symbolism
When completed, the white temple compound will have nine buildings, including the existing ubosot, a hall of relics, a meditation hall, an art gallery, and living quarters for monks.
The bridge of "the cycle of rebirth": the main building at the white temple, the ubosot, is reached by crossing a bridge over a small lake. In front of the bridge are hundreds of outreaching hands that symbolize unrestrained desire. The bridge proclaims that the way to happiness by is by foregoing temptation, greed, and desire. Next to the lake stand two very elegant "Kinnaree", half-human, half-bird creatures from Buddhist mythology.
Gate of Heaven: After crossing the bridge, the visitor arrives at the "gate of heaven", guarded by two creatures representing Death and Rahu, who decides the fate of the dead. In front of the ubosot are several meditative Buddha images.
Ubosot: The principal building, the ubosot is an all white building with fragments of mirrored glass embedded in building's exterior. The ubosot embodies design elements from classic Thai architecture such as the three-tiered roof and abundant use of Naga serpents. "Inside the temple, the decor swiftly moves from pristine white to fiery and bewildering. Murals depict swirling orange flames and demon faces, interspersed with Western idols such as Michael Jackson, Neo from The Matrix, Freddy Kruger, and a T-800 series Terminator. Images of nuclear warfare, terrorist attacks, and oil pumps hammer home the destructive impact that humans have had on earth. The presence of Harry Potter, Superman, and Hello Kitty confuses the message somewhat, but the overall moral is clear: people are wicked."
The golden building: "A structure that stands out because of its color is the rest rooms building. Another very ornately decorated structure, this golden building represents the body, whereas the white ubosot represents the mind. The gold symbolizes how people focus on worldly desires and money. The golden building represents the idea to make merit and to focus on the mind, instead of material things and possession."
On 5 May 2014 at 18:08 (local time), the temple was damaged by the earthquake in Mae Lao that struck the province. It was closed indefinitely. Chalermchai said on 6 May that he would demolish the structures for safety reasons and would not rebuild it.
On May 7, after an engineering expert team inspected and affirmed that all buildings in the compound were structurally unharmed by the quake, Chalermchai announced that he would restore the temple to its original beauty in two years and promised to devote his life to the work. He also announced that the temple area will be open to visitors from the afternoon of 8 May. The gallery building opened shortly thereafter. But for some buildings, specifically, ubosot itself, visitors are only allowed to take pictures outside.
More info: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Rong_Khun