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The Three-Headed Elephant Statue

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See the worlds largest elephant Statue at the Erawan Museum, Samut Prakan, Bangkok, Thailand…

Situated on (the old) Sukhumvit road between Samut Prakan and Bangkok, the Erawan Museum (not to be confused with the Erawan Shrine located in downtown Bangkok), is a surprisingly peaceful place to spend a day out in the city.

This eye-catching structure was built to worship Airvagta, the elephant diety of Hindu mythology, and standing 29 meters high and weighing over 250 tons, the elephant statue is largest in the world. The statue itself is made from pure bronze and is hollow, with the left rear leg housing a lift, the rear right leg a spiral staircase and the tail a fire escape.

The project was started by Lek Viriyaphant (aka Khun Lek), the same businessman responsible for the Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya and the Ancient City, also located in Samut Prakan. The building of the museum, which started in 1994 and took almost ten years, was supervised by Pagpean Viriyaphant, Khun Lek’s eldest son. Unfortunately, both of them died before the construction was completed.

three headed elephant statue erawan museum 550x412 The Three Headed Elephant Statue

Three Headed Elephant Statue At Erawan Museum

Image Credit: Heinrich Damm, 2004.

The museum is made up of three levels, each of which represents a one of the Three Worlds of the Thai cosmos. The first level is in the basement of the museum and represents the cosmological Underworld. The second level is located in the domed upper level and represents Mount Meru, the center of the Buddhist universe traditionally located somewhere in the Himalayas. The third level, in the belly of the three-headed elephant, symbolizes Tavatimsa Heaven, a place above Mount Meru where the elephant deity Airavata resides. This part of the museum is home to 9 images of Buddha, some of which are amongst the oldest in Thailand. The walls and ceiling of the dome are hand-painted in art depicting the solar system.

Visitors are not allowed to take photos in the part of the museum, but a there is a photographer who can take shots for a small commission.

The Erawan Museum is surrounded by tropical gardens with pavilions, secluded benches, ponds, and rockeries abundant with rare flora.

Visitors wanting to reach the museum can do by taking a taxi along Sukhumvit road towards Samut Prakan. Taxis from the inner city cost between 150-300 baht, depending on your location. Admission to the Erawan Museum grounds cost 50 bhat, entry to the Museum is separate, and costs 150 baht for adults, or 150 baht for children.


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