The White Temple is the brainchild of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat and is a truly amazing work of modern art. He started the project in 1998 with his own money and has put millions of dollars into it so far. The scale of the project is so grand that it isn't estimated to be done for a few decades. You can read about it more somewhere else online.

We almost missed the White Temple actually. It's promoted on all the tours so we thought it was just another plain old Buddhist temple/tourist trap. It's not even mentioned in the lonely planet "Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" book, which is weird cause the temple is free to visit. We only heard about how cool it was the night before from a lone Austrian traveller that was staying at the same guesthouse as us. Luckily, it was the last stop of our Bicycle tour so we didn't miss it.

The whole thing is just totally amazing. It's an ecclectic blend of traditional buddhist art, psychadelic imagery and pop culture references. The temple's design is something out of the hallucinations of an acid-tripping monk. Everything is bright white and lined with tiny mirrors that glimmer in the sunlight as you walk by. To enter, you must cross over the pits of hell, pass by the demon gate-keepers, and traverse a bridge guarded by dragons. Inside the temple is a giant mural with heroes and villains in epic poses, soaring through an cellestial plane. Above them are the eyes of the devil with reflections of George Bush and Osama Bin Laden. Above that is the fires of hell, the light of heaven, and a serene, enlightened buddha sitting peacefully above all else. We weren't allowed to take pictures, but I assure you it was epic.

Right now, it's just the one temple that's done. There are two more behind it and a giant pagoda nearby that still need to be dressed up with all the curvy spires, dragons and faces of Buddha. When it's finished (in 30 or 40 years), it will be one of the most impressive works of art of the century.


The first temple

The only temple that is mostly done so far. This one has the mural inside. It gets put in here twice because it's the best wide shot I have.

Tiny mirrors

The tiny mirrors on the gates around the temples

The pits of hell

Hands reaching up from the pits of hell

The pits of hell

Demon Gatekeeper

One of the demon gate keepers

Floating Heads

These heads were just hanging from some trees at the entrance.

A skull

Some Skulls

Some skulls at the front of the temple

Some faces

A bridge and water monument

 

A bridge

Unfinished pagoda

This pagoda-like structure will be the biggest of them all, I think.

Unfinished temples

These two temples are behind the main one and are unfinished. This is what they look like before all the squiggly spires and creatures are added

Work in progress

The workshop is totally open and you can go in and watch the artists work.

Another work in progress

This one is getting the mirrors put on still.

Golden Bathroom

This golden building seemed out of place. It's the bathroom.

54 Responses to The White Temple: Buddhist Acid-trip Hallucination Come to Life

White temple

The hands totally creeped me out, where exactly is this place? I want to avoid it !

Ummm...

You forgot about how the mural had drawings of pop-culture references and comic book characters all over it: darth vader, spiderman, neo from the matrix, batman, a bunch i cant remember anymore...

more stuff

... Transformers, Jabba the Hut, Land Speeders and those Rolly robots from Episode 1, Superman...

Wow. My brain exploded a bit

Wow. My brain exploded a bit when I saw the part with the hands reaching up. SCARY! I have to go here.

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