War elephant statue
Published/Last edited or updated: 29th February, 2016
Set atop a large gold-tinted base, the statue shows a fierce-looking Suriyothai clutching clubs from atop a bull elephant as a team of foot soldiers protects her down below. It depicts the moments before she was fatally wounded -- as legend has it -- after sneaking into battle dressed as a warrior. When her husband, King Maha Chakkrapat, was knocked to the ground and moments away from being speared, Suriyothai stomped in front of him and was slain.
Historians debate over whether the female warrior who died was in fact the queen or a younger princess. The legend that came down through the centuries stars Suriyothai, who became a national hero during a Thai nationalist campaign in the mid 20th century. The story was embellished in 2001’s The Legend of Suriyothai, a high-budget film that Francis Ford Coppola helped to produce.
The late Thai artist Khaimook Chouto began work on the elaborate sculpture in 1980 and finished just before her death in 1995. Suriyothai’s elephant used to stand “threatened” by four similarly sized sculptures of Burmese war elephants that were later moved to a small park next to the Royal Elephant Kraal.
Though not overcrowded thanks to its spacious confines, the park sees a lot of local visitors on weekends and a small but good food market sets up nearby. If you make it this far, you might as well enjoy a picnic under a tree.
Queen Suriyothai Monument is located six km northwest of the island. If coming from Chedi Phu Khao Thong, continue northwest along the riverside road and take a right on Route 347, which runs straight to the park entrance on the left after a few hundred metres. There’s also a back way into the park from the road that runs along the east bank of the Chao Phraya River.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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