The Three Headed Elephant

Where to go to find these adored and revered 
Mystical Creatures of Thailand
 

Teak Elephants at the Sanctuary of Truth  


The Three Headed Elephant sitting atop the Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan just outside of Bangkok may be famous for its massive structure but there are also several other amazing analogous examples of these elegant elephant statues to be found in and around Thailand.

The Sanctuary of Truth in Pattaya, for example, has a fine specimen of this majestic and mystical creature beautifully carved out of teak. Elephants in all forms are adored and revered in Thailand. And for your viewing pleasure, there is a unique three elephant statue proudly displayed outside Wat Phra Kaew at the Grand Palace complex in Bangkok.  

Though I'm no dab hand on the subject of elephants it is nice to know that Thai elephants are much more approachable than those massive creatures found in Africa. I have had the pleasure of being up close and personal to both the Thai and African elephant though it's a lot easier to ride atop a Thai elephant than it would be to ride atop an African elephant.

That said - for the moment, let's concentrate on the three-headed elephant specimen at the Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan.


Three Headed Elephant at Erawan Museum


While there might be many more amazing museums in and around Bangkok to explore you simply cannot ignore the enormous elephant superstructure as the one in Samut Prakan.

The Erawan Museum is an expansive structure that stands almost fifty metres tall and as high as a seventeen storey building. As you approach the museum you can't help notice the pure bronze elephant sculpture towering over the highway. 

The museum was inspired by the same man who was also the creator of the hundred and five-metre tall teak structure known as the Sanctuary of Truth, seen towering the skyline in Pattaya.

Khun Lek Wiriyapan as he is known, built the Erawan Museum as a storage space to house his enormous collection of religious relics, ancient art and historical artifacts. He also wanted to preserve Thailand's ancient cultural heritage. The three-headed elephant was the influence of the mystical Hindu elephant Airavanta but know as Erawan in Thailand.


Market Place alongside the Erawan Museum 


What's so amazing about this museum is that it's nothing whatsoever like anything you could possibly have imagined. The exterior doesn't give you the slightest inkling as to what's about to unfold inside its belly. 

To be more specific it's not remotely as stuffy as that of the common garden variety (traditional) museums. The one you'd have expected to see. And it gets better.

Altogether there are three floors of the museum and each is shown to distinguish the various societies of India, Nepal and the Far East also known as Brahmin in Hinduism.


Shrine inside the head of the Elephant


You are about to step inside a fabulous world of pure fantasy much like that of Alice in Wonderland, Narnia or Neverland. Michael Jackson and kids would have been proud of this place. I'm sure your kids will get a blast out of this place too.

The first floor is reminiscent of a kinda underworld filled with precious artefacts, historical exhibitions of ancient cities and mystical creatures.

The second floor is an awe-inspiring architectural masterpiece of just how the human world meets east and west. The stained glass dome ceiling is a glittering kaleidoscope of exotic colours. The painted ceiling on the third floor represents heaven and shares a solar system together with five continents and the zodiac. 


Staircase and Stained Glass Dome Ceiling


Whether you agree or not you just cannot fault the Thais for taking things to the highest level of extremity, especially when it comes right down to outrageous displays of theatrical eccentricity. Perhaps even bordering on the ostentatious.

Nevertheless, you will no doubt be in awe of the three-headed elephant in Samut Prakan. And while these displays are not just for your viewing pleasure, it is a way of outshining competitors.  

After you've done with exploring the sheer magnitude of the elephant's belly you may want to wander round the vast tropical gardens surrounding the museum.

Along the cobblestone pathways and past lush green plants, shrubs, trees and ponds you'll find a number of delicately crafted statues as well as some covered pagodas and benches in which to simply relax and admire the serenity of the place. 

I'm quite surprised that more visitors don't take the time to visit this colossal man-made structure and its immaculately kept gardens. I just don't know, but perhaps it could be due to the 300 Baht entrance fee that foreigners have to fork out.

However, if you're in this part of the city, you should take the opportunity to visit if only to take in a one of a kind attraction not seen anywhere else in the world.

And while you are about it, you can also wander around the market place bordering the museum, chat with some of the local stall sellers and maybe even stock up on a few items you might find of interest. 


Thai Sculpture in the Erawan Museum Garden

You may also like these Mythical Creatures 

Naga is a serpent-like protector of Buddha.  Read More...

Makara in ancient Hindu mythology are seen as aquatic monsters made up either as part serpent, part crocodile and part elephant. Read More...


Hongsa is often seen as a glittering five-metre tall swan-like figure gracing the prow of a royal barge or perched high on the apex of temple roofs. Read More...

Singha has a lion-like figure whose primary function is to guard temples. Read More...

Garuda is a mythical birdlike creature in Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Read More...

Apsonsi appears in the form of a half-woman and half-lion. Read More...

Kinnari appears in the form of a half-woman and half-bird. Read More...

Yaksha appears in the form of a grimacing giant statue. Read More...


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