The Erawan Museum
I met Leslie at On Nut BTS Station and we took the 100 Baht taxi ride to the Erawan museum. It was approaching midday and it was getting hot outside. We could see the museum from a short distance away, as the three-headed elephant Erawan on top of the museum is huge. Erawan is the Thai name for Airavata, a being from Hindu mythology connected with the god Indra. The museum itself was built by Khun Lek Viriyaphant, the Thai millionaire responsible for the construction of the equally impressive Ancient City museum.
The taxi driver stopped in the middle of the road, apparently the closest he could take us to the museum entrance. We paid him and jumped out of the car, dodging traffic and clambering over a fence with the use of a conveniently placed stepladder, to reach the ticket booth which marked the entrance to the Erawan museum. We paid the 400 Baht tourist fee and walked into the courtyard beyond.
The gardens around the museum were beautiful, and we wandered around for an hour or so checking out the water features – the small streams and ponds containing fish and turtles, and the accompanying statues of figures from Thai mythology. There are also a few small Buddhist shrines, and a larger one near the entrance, as the Erawan museum doubles as a temple.
We sat in the café area for a while, enjoying the fan and a couple of nice cold bottles of water, before we decided to go and have a look at the museum itself. It was located on the ground floor of the fascinating structure in the middle of the courtyard, and was pleasantly air-conditioned. The museum is circular, serving also as the base of the statue and temple above. It contains some interesting pieces of art from the older periods of Siamese history and is accompanied by English descriptions, though video presentations were in Thai only.
We exited the museum, took off our shoes, and walked up some stairs to the temple structure.
The decoration inside was magnificent, with intricate pillars and staircases snaking their way upwards. The pillars detailed scenes from Buddhist, Hindu and Christian mythology, and the entire room was covered with stunning artwork. Climbing the stairs for a better view, we realised that the temple itself is located within Erawan, the elephant. A further short climb up a winding staircase takes you past an observation window in the statue’s belly and into the temple area at the top.
This was my favourite part of the whole complex. Golden statues of the Buddha stood at the front of the room and smiled down at us as we reached the top of the stairs. The relaxing sounds of Buddhist chants could be heard around the room, from a well-hidden sound system that I discovered (to my mild disappointment) sometime later. The room was decorated with patterns of stars and constellations, representing the cosmos at the top of the structure. We sat for a while and enjoyed the peaceful environment of the temple, before making our way back down the stairs and out of the museum. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable trip and I’m looking forward to another visit soon.