The White Temple and the Black House - Architectural Wonders

White Temple & Black House in Chiang Rai

Thailand is beloved by tourists for its attractions, but sometimes you just want to leave all the crowds behind. If that’s the case, you should visit Chiang Rai. Just five hours north of Chiang Mai, this city is a calmer and less crowded destination and is also a great place to stop while traveling to Laos. Many tourists who have already come from Chiang Mai might be a little tired of trekking through temples, but there is just one more that you must see: the White Temple and the Black House. The two architectural wonders are quite distinct; one is dark and almost feels angry and the other is a heaven-like, open space that feels inspiring. Strangely enough, the Black House was built by a student of the White Temple’s architect. For some reason, he chose to go down a very different artistic path than his teacher.

The White Temple

This other-worldly structure was built by artist Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat. He spent his life devoted to building the White Temple. It is a Buddhist temple, and a vision to behold – all white, with mirrors covering each part so that a sunny day will make a reflection so bright that it might be hard to look at. An amazing architectural idea that is enhanced by its surroundings: fountains and pools filled with albino Koi fish to maintain the all-white theme. The project is a continuing one and the grounds are always buzzing with more work, as Kositpipat is not yet satisfied enough to call it finished. The artist has in fact taken pains to make sure that work on the White Temple will continue for years after he passes away.

The Black House

It’s only a short two kilometers away, but the Black House (Baan Dam) could not be more different than the ethereal White Temple. The project was built by a former student of Kositpipat, Thawan Duchanee. The grounds of this mysterious project consist of numerous buildings that house a large collection of taxidermy animals and skeletons. This would not be the best place to visit for a vegetarian, or those who are easily upset by the sight and feelings the death related art could bring up. As you wander the grounds, you will see the bones of huge animals, like elephants, and skins of bears, tigers, and snakes. Go ahead and look into the nooks and crannies of grounds, and you’ll eventually find that the Black House is even home to its own dungeon. Duchanee’s dark art is gaining acclaim, being hailed as a Thai National Artist. Like the White Temple, the Black House is an ongoing project. And if you want to take a little piece of the Black House home with you, visit the gift shop. There’s a crocodile handbag with your name on it.

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