Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan near Bangkok is a striking monument. This gigantic three-headed elephant built on a pedestal stands 43 metres above one side of the expressway. Surprisingly, not so many people drive there.
The Erawan Museum was designed and built in the years 2000 by Lek Viriyaphant, a rich business man who also designed the famous ‘Sanctuary of Truth’, probably the most visited landmark in Pattaya. He also designed the ‘Ancient Siam’ a nearby park featuring miniature reproductions of Thailand’s most famous temples and historical building.
The massive elephant is set in the middle of a large garden. On the way to the building many visitors take a moment to make merit at the small shrine build in front of the entrance, offering garlands of yellow flowers, sticks of incense or placing lotus flowers in the water surrounding the museum.
Inside the Erawan Museum, the daylight falls on a circular room through an immense and magnificent stain glass representing a map of the world. The intricate design of the convoluted staircases leading to the top of the room is part of a massive and beautifully carved white and gold dragon.
At the bottom of the staircase, you can’t miss the three head elephants with ears made of porcelain spoons and millions of broken pieces of Benjarong, these beautiful and delicate Thai ceramics. One thing is obvious: this person didn’t like straight lines and the amazing double stairs is a masterpiece of carving.
Walking up the curved staircase takes you to a small terrace where you can chose to between a small lift or another set of spiral stairs. These take you all the way to the shrine built inside the body of the elephant, a dark blue curved room entirely painted with a map representing stars and heaven. The front part of the room, where the elephant head is, displays a beautiful multilevel shrine with Buddha images. Here too, people pray and pay respect and despite having some security woman permanently saying something in loudspeakers, the place feels somehow peaceful. Some beautiful antique Buddha statues seat or stand in glass displays around the room.
This monument is not to everyone’s taste, but I respect a man who pursues his dream, especially when the results is so impressive.
To go there, best is to drive of course, but if you are not in a rush you can ride a local bus (102, 507, 508, 511 and 536). Or take the BTS to On Nut Station and get a cab from there (around 100 Baht). Price is 150 Baht for adult and 75 Baht for children, but only 50 baht for adults if you live in Thailand. Museum is open from 8 am to 5 pm.