At first glance, Wat Mae Kaet Noi, on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, looks just like any other Thai temple, with a few statues of people performing a welcoming wai in front of the ordination hall. Yet if you wander through the archway to the left that leads to a garden shaded by tall trees, you’ll know instantly that you’re in purgatory.
Christian vs Buddhist hell
Though the concept of a Christian hell is widespread in the West, you are very unlikely to find graphic statues of people being tortured in a churchyard in Europe or the United States. By contrast, in Thailand, temple complexes feature a Buddhist “Garden of Hell” (narok in Thai), either in the form of statues or murals, as a warning of what awaits sinners in the afterlife. However, few of them feature realistic-looking people or include machines that bring the scenes to life the way Wat Mae Kaet Noi does. Work began on this project in 2015 and is still ongoing; hell is getting bigger day by day.