Fri, December 03, 2021


From hell to heaven

The story of national artist Chalermchai Kositpipat's stunning white temple comes to life in a high-tech light show

A FREQUENT visitor to Chiang Rai, a province rich in art and history, Kreingkrai Kanjanapokin, chief executive of Index Creative Village, often finds himself standing in front of the central clock tower, admiring National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat’s stunning Buddhist contemporary art and its magical night lights.
A creative figure, Kreingkrai has always wanted to take this magical illumination further afield so that others might too enjoy the exquisite works by the national artist, who is known the world over for his masterpiece, Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple.
Chalermchai has long been an inspiration to the new generation through his unique creations of Thai visual and Buddhist contemporary arts. They include the murals at Wat Buddhapadipa in London and his drawings illustrating the “Mahajanaka” story, written by His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. 
So last year, the owner of the world-renowned creative event organiser, decided to approach Chalermchai with a view to experimenting with 3D mapping to illuminate the temple and bring its story close to the hearts of all those who visit it. 
“My temple is all white, as if it had been waiting for magnificent lights to paint my art and the story of my life. It might be a contemporary art expression that will not last for long, but the world will be stunned and remember,” said Chalermchai. 

From hell to heaven
With the artist’s agreement for the Wat Rong Khun Light Fest project, Kreingkrai gathered a number of artists from various fields to help create this contemporary masterpiece. They included Scenario’s renowned writer/composer Sarawut “Nann” Lertpanyanuch, whose work has brought to many musicals to life, among them “Banlang Mek the Musical”, “Si Pan Din” (“Four Reigns”), and “Tawipob”, and Nipon Wannamahin aka “Jo Variety Dance”, an internationally-acclaimed dance director and choreographer who was behind “Mahajanaka”, a live show honouring His Majesty the King.

Also brought on board was LightSource, a leader in the entertainment lighting industry with 30 years of experience in handling such talk-of-the-town events as Mahanakhon Bangkok’s “Rising: the Night of Light” and Show DC’s grand opening. 
Their creations combined with 3D mapping technology from Panasonic have been under preparation at the temple for months and will be ready to present to visitors by the end of this year.
“I fell in love with Chiang Rai Province when I laid eyes on this magical temple, which has become the pride of Buddhist art. That feeling inspired me to create this project, which has been in the pre-production phase for more than a year,” said Kreingkrai, adding that thanks to the use of new technology, it would be totally immersive for children as well as adult arts.

The world-class, Bt100-million multimedia show titled “The Illumination of the White Temple” will feature more than 100 lasers as well as 3D mapping. The story of Chalermchai’s life and his world-class art pieces will be told through both the multi-coloured laser lights and a troupe of performers moving around the White Temple.

At the pre-show event held in the temple grounds last weekend, participants were able to enjoy the magnificent laser light performance against the night sky with Wat Rong Khun as the backdrop.

Two of six scenes in the Wat Rong Khun Light Fest’s episode “Begins” were presented, starting with “The Sins”, which dwells on the horror of hell before crossing the overpass to gleaming heaven through the spectrum of laser lights. Only those with enlightenment attained in their mind are destined to journey towards the place beyond all suffering.
“The Way to Heaven” is a replica of the exquisite heavenly land of Dhipaya Viman, welcoming those who have discarded lustful greed like a lotus rising out of the water. The pre-show then took spectators to the grand finale “Wat Rong Khun Begins” at the Ganesha Hall, where spectacular multimedia light shows through water curtains portrayed the inspiring story of Chalermchai in pursuit of his great dreams and path to becoming an internationally renowned visual artist.

From hell to heaven SEAWrite Award poet and writer Chiranan Pitpreecha, who also attended the pre-show event, described it as an integration of art that delivered the delicateness of Chalermchai’s art and his Buddhist beliefs and philosophies with the help of technology. Unlike other light shows, this integrated art piece could be expressed with delicacy because the technology of lighting is today highly advanced and sophisticated.
“Thanks to all these materials, we can all appreciate this delicate artwork and gain a more comprehensive knowledge of what art appreciation really means,” Chiranan said.
Chalermchai agreed, commenting that while the show was unlike to make a substantial profit given the cost involved, he was hopeful that the work that invested in art would generate a greater value of art appreciation in people’s hearts.
“Let’s think of it this way: we are creating a great art piece and we are doing this to boost art appreciation among our people and our children. Let’s them enjoy the masterpiece, If people see that it’s great, then I believe support will follow,” the artist said. 
Wat Rong Khun, which Chalermchai designed, decorated and runs, is among the most popular tourist attractions and is listed as one of the top 10 Thai landmarks, as well as one of the 10 Most Beautiful Temples in the World. 
The artist said earlier that millions of tourists visit the North and the temple gets 10,000 visitors a day, averaging two million a year. 
The Wat Rong Khun Light Fest will mark the first time the temple will be open at night.



- The Wat Rong Khun Light Fest runs daily from November 22 to December 22. 
- Tickets costing from Bt400 to Bt1,150 are now on sale at Thai Ticket Major counters and online at 
- Part of the proceeds will go to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital.
- For more information, visit, and keep up with the latest news and updates at and Instagram: Watrongkhunlightfest.

Published : June 25, 2019