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Three-Storey Glory

June 05, 2013
Erawan Museum

Famed as much for its gargantuan three-headed elephant statue as it is for the ancient trove of treasures hidden within, Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan is one of Thailand’s most extraordinary places to visit.

The vision of late entrepreneur and philanthropist Lek Viriyapant, and located just 20 minutes outside of Bangkok, this three-storey museum of Asian antiquities sits inside the 250-ton, 29m-high copper elephant statue - an ode to the mythological Hindu character Erawan (aka Airavata) that took almost ten years to construct.

Flooded with light from the intricate stained-glass ceiling above, the 3 floors represent the Thai beliefs of the universe with artwork, precious antiques and historic artefacts. Begin on the basement level, said to symbolise the Naga or Underworld, and admire the jade ornaments, Vietnamese vases and Benjarong ceramics bedecking the space, before heading up to the ground floor.

Designed to represent the centre of the Buddhist universe, Mount Meru, it has beautiful and technicoloured mural paintings, porcelain inlays and stucco works of Phetchaburi craftsmanship, plus an ornate shrine of the Goddess of Compassion, Guan Yin. Finally, ascend to the top level, Tavatisma Heaven (where sacred beings congregate), characterised by the stunning ceiling mosaic of the zodiac and undoubtedly the most peaceful and tranquil of all three floors with buddha images and abstract art adorning its concave walls. Then finish your visit to this iconic example of Eastern cosmology with a stroll around the lush botanical gardens. Bliss.

Sukhumvit Rd, Samut Prakan /
+23 713 1356 /