Erawan Museum

The giant three-headed elephant on it's pink pedestal.

In the industrial suburbs south-east of Bangkok, a highly successful, if slightly eccentric, businessman ordered the construction of a monumental building sculpted in the shape of the three-headed elephant Airavata ridden by the Hindu god Indra. The businessman was Lek Viriyapant, who was also responsible for conceiving the Ancient City and Sanctuary of Truth.

Within the "belly" of the elephant is this celestial alter.

In Thai, Airavata is known as Erawan, hence the building is commonly known as the Erawan Museum. It houses the late Khun Lek's priceless collection of ancient religious objects. The huge bronze sculpture stands on a base pedestal decorated with millions of tiny tiles enameled in the fashion of Thai Benjarong ceramics. Tours of the museum start in the lower level of the pedestal, which houses the oldest artifacts.

The upper level of the pedestal is dominated by an elaborate double staircase, also decorated in bits of Benjarong. Around the periphery are more ancient Buddha statues along with other antiquities.

On the landing at the top of the stairs, you have the choice of taking either more stairs, or a lift which travels up one of the hind legs of the statue. Either of these choices takes you up into the belly of the beast. There are two levels within the body of the elephant. On the lower level, a small window allows you to look our over the gardens below. More stairs take you up to the second level, which is a sort of celestial chapel displaying more ancient Buddha statues. With its light blue and gold decorated walls following the contour of the elephant, the chapel has a rather ethereal feel.

The giant elephant sits in a large garden full of ponds and fountains laid out in several Asian styles. More, albeit smaller, fanciful creatures decorate the gardens and water features.

The Erawan Museum has become a popular place for local Thais to make offerings in order to receive divine "help" with certain matters. The story goes that one day a young girl prayed to the giant statue just before buying what turned out to be a winning lottery ticket. The story has spread, and now many Thais come just to make offerings at the pavilion in front of the statue.

Hours And Admission

The Erawan Museum is open every day from 8:00 until 18:00. Admission to the museum is 300 Baht (7.79 USD) for adults and 150 Baht (3.90 USD) for children. See the Erawan Museum web site.