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Ganesha Himal Museum

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To describe the Ganesh Museum as unusual would be a serious understatement; to describe its architecture and decor as eclectic would be even more of one. This sprawling complex of shrines, gardens, pools and displays dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesha (or Ganesh) manages to combine Lanna, Balinese, Mogul North Indian and Islamic styles with stained glass windows, Angkor-style apsara carvings and Romanesque mosaic floor tiles.



Each brick individually blessed

Each brick individually blessed.

We’d better begin in the carpark, from where you pass the lottery ticket vendors (Ganesh is, after all, the god of good fortune among other things), through a brick gate with apsara carvings into a courtyard garden with pools and fountains. Around the courtyard are the main worshipping hall and several lesser shrines, mostly dedicated of course to Ganesha. Incense smoke and piped Pali (or Sanskrit) chanting fill the air. The Lanna-style, teak worshipping hall to your right with all-wooden statues to the elephant god and his family is claimed to be the only entirely wooden Ganesha shrine anywhere.

Worshippers at one of the numerous Ganesh shrines

Worshippers at one of the numerous shrines.

A neighbouring shrine is built out of brick, with every single brick individually blessed and inscribed with a prayer prior to construction. Note also the highly revered Shiva statue under the Ficus tree; Shiva is the father of Ganesha in Hindu mythology.

Ganesh’s celebrity dad - Shiva

Ganesh’s celebrity dad, Shiva.

Passing through the courtyard, you’ll walk through another formally laid out garden to reach the museum proper. Two one-storey buildings house a huge collection of Ganesha images divided into sections of carvings and statues from just about every country in Asia. This section is a standard-style museum and all exhibits are well displayed and clearly described in English and Thai. (No photography is allowed here.)

One of a thousand Ganesh’s

One of a thousand Ganeshas.

Exiting the garden to the left leads you into the ground floor of a huge peach-coloured hall made of concrete, which displays some distinctly Islamic architectural flourishes. A more local nod here though is the good Chiang Mai-grown coffee stand across from the souvenir (mostly Ganesha of course) shop. Also in this hall you’ll see a pool with a goddess statue in the centre (we think Kuan Yin), and where you can buy krathongs, a little vessel in which you place a candle before floating them on the water to carry away any negative vibes.

Fusion architecture amidst the orchards

Fusion architecture amid the orchards.

Upstairs is another pool in the centre of a collonaded interior courtyard with floating artificial lily blooms and another watery goddess statue. We found this was getting a bit Alhambra-esque until one of the helpful and enthusiastic staff, many of whom are stationed throughout the complex, led us to the life-sized wax model display of — yes — Ganesha and his family and associates. She then turned on recorded north Indian music (she pointed this out) for us.

Kitsch...who said kitsch?!

Kitsch…who said kitsch?!

We found the place fascinating and despite being pushed for time still spent more than an hour here, although you could spend much longer. The museum collection is excellent and has clearly been painstakingly compiled over many years by an obviously wealthy Bangkokian, Pundhorn Teerakanon. The display, information and explanations are very interesting. Construction is relatively recent — 2009 we believe — and sections are still being added.

A watery godess or Boddhisatva?

A watery godess or Boddhisatva?

The complex is set amid lam yai orchards, somewhat in the middle of nowhere on rural Route 3018 between Mae Wang and Doi Lo districts. There are infrequent English signs from Route 108 itself. In total, it’s around 35 kilometres from Chiang Mai.



How to get there
If you're travelling by public transport then you'd need to get out of any Chom Thong-bound bus or songthaew at a village called Sob Aow on Route 108. From here it's a five-kilometre or so motorbike trip up Route 3018 to where the museum is located on your left.

By private transport, you can take either Route 108 or 3035 (Canal Road) out of Chiang Mai. The right turn, with English sign, is located immediately after the junction of those two roads. Head west for around five more kilometres.

Hiring a tuk tuk there and back from Chiang Mai including waiting time would set you back around 600-800 baht depending upon your negotiating skills.

Ganesha Himal Museum
Yang Kram, Doi Lo
Daily 09:00-17:00, Sundays at 10:00 sees a full-scale Ganesh worshipping ceremony.
T: (053) 024 287-9, (089 ) 430 4050 
Admission: By donation

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Location map for Ganesha Himal Museum


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Mae Wang.
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