The Erawan Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์ช้างเอราวัณ) is well known for its giant three-headed elephant art display. The three storeys inside the elephant contain antiquities and priceless collections of ancient religious objects belonging to Khun Lek Viriyapant who is the museum owner. The interior of Erawan Museum: The basement level represents the underworld (naga world). The basement contains all sort of rare antiques, the history and construction of Erawan museum. The middle level hall portrays the human world. The design is mixed with eastern and western influences. The ceiling is made up of stained glass which is commonly seen in catholic churches. The world map and zodiac signs are illustrated on the stained glass. The artist behind the stained glass is the German artist Jacob Schwarzkopf. There are four pillars in the middle layer, and each pillar is tin plated. Each pillar represents the four major religions of the world, which are Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The stairways to the belly of the elephant, which is the "stairways to heaven" is an art work made up of broken pieces of Benjarong pottery. And finally, the Tavatimsa Heaven is located deep inside the belly of the elephant. This represents the second heaven where Lord Indra dwells. Around Erawan Museum lies the botanical garden noted in Thai literary and the sculpture of animals of Himavanta forest such as kinnara, kinnari, naga, rajasingh etc inside this lush and shady garden.

This three-headed elephant, Airavata, was born of Khun Lek Viriyapant's ideas and imagination. It was inspired by his wish to preserve his collection of antiques as a contribution to Thai cultural heritage. Many of these were priceless objects of art; they were also held as sacred objects for people of ancient cultures. According to ancient traditions, there were believed to bring blessing and prosperity to the land and its people, and therefore must not be lost to outsiders. It had been Mr. Viriyapant's concernt to find a way that would keep these objects safe and that sould also be suitable to their traditional functions. One day he had a visit from a Westerner who, during the course of the conversation , suggested the idea of constructing the most important building in the town in the form of an apple which, according to Western traditions of belief, played a crucial part in the shapig of human destiny. this suggestion was warmly welcomed by Mr. Viriyapant. He nevertheless thought it more appropriate to adhere to Eastern traditions and thus decided on the heavenly elephant Airavata of Hindu mythology. In addition, he wanted thsi three-headed elephant to be more than just the vehicle of the god Indra. The elephant would be a symbol of the centre of the universe and, as such, the building would function symbolically as the spiritual heart of the land where sacred objects of the land were housed and revered. He then designed the building and gave the design to Khun Pagpean Viriyapant, his eldest son, to begin construction. Already during the construction, the building attracted people who came to worship. Thus it fulfilled Khun Lek Viriyapant's wish to precerve sacred objects for the country. Although both Khun Lek and Khun Pagpean passed away before the construction was completed, their heirs continued their wish to create a place where ceremonies and festivals of Thai traditions might be held, and that would also serve as a museum to keep the memory of Khun Lek Viriyapant's life and work alive for future generations.

   
   

LocationThe Erawan Museum (Correct as at May 2010)
99/9 M.1 Muang Samut Prakan, Samut Prakan Province 10270
(ถนนสุขุมวิทตรงไปทางจังหวัดสมุทรปราการ)
The nearest Skytrain station is On Nut, from where a taxi costs <100 baht each way.
Open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Adult Baht 150; Children Bhat 50.
Telephone: 0-2371-3135-6 Fax: 0-2380-0304
Website: www.erawan-museum.com

Information correct as of February 2011.