The Erawan Museum, located just outside Bangkok in Samut Prakan province, features one of Thailand’s most outstanding art collections.
Three-headed elephant Erawan
The Erawan museum, housed in the area’s most visible landmark, a massive three-headed bronze elephant, was named after the elephant Airavata, the elephant from Hindu mythology known as Erawan in Thai.
Khun Lek Viriyaphant, a Thai businessman who previously developed the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya and the Ancient City Muang Boran, a vast open-air museum in Samut Prakan province, south of Bangkok, designed the museum.
Khun Lek built the museum to preserve many rare antiquities, works of art, and religious artifacts from Thailand’s past for future generations.
39 Meter long and 29-meter-high elephant
The gigantic bronze three-headed elephant, weighing approximately 250 tonnes, stands on a 15-meter-high pink-colored plinth, dominating the region with its 39-meter length and 29-meter height. The elephant and the museum it houses took nearly a decade to create.
The Universe, as depicted by Hindus
The museum’s interior is modeled by the Hindu representation of the Universe, which includes the underworld (1st floor), Earth (2nd floor), and Heaven (3rd floor) (top floor). The bottom two stories are inside the pedestal, while the top floor is inside the elephant’s belly.
In Hindu mythology, the first level of the Erawan museum portrays the underworld, the realm beneath the world where snake-like creatures known as Nagas live.
This level has a collection of magnificent antiques from various times and countries, including Chinese Ming dynasty vases, Vietnamese vases, the famed Thai Benjarong ceramics, Sukhothai era pottery, and furniture dating back to the end of the 18th century. Guides are available to show you around and explain the exhibits.
The planet Earth
The second floor, representing the Earth or the human world, houses more valuable antiquities and handicrafts, such as ceramics and European pottery. Guanyin, the Chinese Goddess with a Thousand Arms, is depicted throughout the hall.
Nicely porcelain-painted stairs may be found on either side of the hall. The upper half of the floor portrays Mount Meru, the Hindu mythological center of the Universe. The spectacular stained glass ceiling depicts the world, stars, and zodiac symbols in vivid yellow, blue, and orange colors.
In Buddhist cosmology, the Tavatimsa Heaven is said to be situated atop Mount Meru, and the top level of the Erawan museum is designed to symbolize this location. You can reach this upper level by ascending a twisting staircase on one of the elephant’s legs.
Relics of the Buddha and ancient statues of the Buddha dating back to numerous different centuries, including Lopburi, Ayutthaya, Lanna, and Rattanakosin, are kept on the top floor of the building. The most ancient ones were created during the Dvaravati era, which began in the sixth century and continued until the thirteenth century. The walls are covered in artwork that depicts various parts of the Universe.
Outside, you will see a lush tropical landscape that has been well tended to, encircling the elephant. In addition to the numerous plant varieties and palm trees, you will come across several statues and a pond containing enormous carp that you are welcome to feed.
Instructions on how to reach the Erawan Museum
The Erawan Museum is located in Samut Prakan province, just south of Bangkok. It can be found on Sukhumvit road, near the intersection with the Southern ring road.
The address is: 99/9 Moo 1 Bangmuang Mai, Samut Prakan.