Wat Rong Khun: A Buddhist temple unlike any you’ve seen

And now for something completely different…: After seeing reactions from our Facebook friends to a post from yesterday, it only seems right to share this with SunSpace’s readers and see what you all think. (But first, thanks to Scott Mitchell of the great blog The Buddha Is My DJ for pointing this story out to begin with.)

Yesterday the website Feel Guide reported on and showed photos of Wat Rong Khun, a Buddhist and Hindu temple found in Chiang Rai, Thailand, designed by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. (According to Wikipedia: “In 1997, Chalermchai Kositpipat volunteered his service to carry out the construction of [the temple's assembly hall] at his own expense as an offering to Lord Buddha, but he later altered the plan as he saw fit in such a way that Wat Rong Khun developed into a prominent site attracting both Thai and foreign visitors.”)

Like Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Família, it remains a work in progress, and a highly eccentric (and, I would say, beautiful) one at that. After the jump: video from outside the temple — and how superheroes and Hollywood film characters have found a home there.

As Feel Guide writes: “Undoubtedly the most bizarre element of [this temple's] design is the presence of contemporary images throughout the interior. Images of the Predator from the Schwarzenegger film franchise, Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Avatar, Keanu Reeves’ character in the Matrix, rocket ships, and others line the walls. The sea of hands holding skulls rising up towards the bridge to the temple is also very striking.”

Clink this link to see Feel Guide’s post, including sample photos of the interior of Wat Rong Khun. (Link will open in a new window.) Now, our Facebook friends, along with readers of The Worst Horse, had various reactions, from:

Wow! It’s out of a Fairy/Wonderland. Quite the exotic sight!

…to:

This temple is just 10 kms from my place…yes.. I am from Chiang Rai. The painting inside the temple is a normal thing in the culture but it depends on the artist what he/she wants to paint. We see the humour of the artists in the paintings in other temples.

…to:

Yes i grew up near this strange temple! It is very real. It is a very striking temple but as i watched it being built i couldn’t help but wonder if it was being built for tourism rather than spirituality.

Sure, given its wild and even opulent imagery, along with its designers stated intentions, it’s natural to see this temple as having been “built for tourism,” but its grandeur and playfulness really do make for an impressive sight — and an inspiring one, too, in my mind. But take a look and see what you think.

And while we have yet to find suitable video showing the temple’s interior, here’s some video of the exterior which, again, is staggering to see in itself. Enjoy.

Oh, and by the way, to become a friend of the Shambhala Sun on Facebook, just click here.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    The minute I saw the temple this thought came into mind…A Buddhist gingerbread house, to help give our minds the "sweetness" of a visual, spiritual form.

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