Connect with us


Looking Back: Understanding Bangkok blast point



PHUKET: The Erawan Shrine is a revered place of worship located in the heart of Bangkok. Flanked by some of the capital’s best malls and five-star hotels, the shrine is frequented by hundreds of Thai and foreign devotees every day. On a typical day, the shrine is crowded with people who come to offer their prayers. There is a thin haze of smoke that lingers permanently from the burning incense sticks. Outside the gates of the shrine, vendors sell flowers, food, incense sticks, even caged sparrows. The sparrows are sold to devotees, who set them free in the belief that this will bring them good karma.

On most days, a troupe of traditional Thai dancers can be seen performing in front of the statue of Brahma, the Hindu god who created the universe. To many, the Erawan Shrine is a sacred and inviolable place.

But the venue has been the center of tragedy more than once. In 2006, a man was beaten to death after he used a hammer to smash the statue, breaking the bust and shattering the entire body. Later it was revealed that the perpetrator was mentally unstable. Then, on August 17, a big explosion caused by a bomb hidden in a backpack ripped through the front gate of the shrine. The merciless act of terrorism resulted in the death of 20 innocent people who were praying, and many more were injured on that fateful day.

The history of the Erawan Shrine is shrouded in mystical belief. Ratchadamri Road was built in 1902 during the reign of King Rama V. Ploenchit Road was built to form the Ratchaprasong intersection 18 years later.

During the 1950s, Bangkok was modernizing and the number of foreigners that visited the city for business and leisure was on the rise. It was during this period that Pol Gen Pao Sriyanont, chairman of Saha Hotel Group, got the idea to build a new hotel on Ratchadamri Road in order to cater to the increasing number of visitors.

Although Bangkok was modernizing fast, most Thais still held deeply-rooted beliefs about spirits, omens and many other superstitions that defined how things were done and when.

When the Erawan Hotel opened for business in 1956, it was said that there had been many accidents during construction of the hotel. This was attributed to the belief that the land on which the hotel was constructed was sacred. The construction had disturbed many of the ancient forces that had always been there.

The hotel executives therefore invited Rear Admiral Luang Suwichanpat, a well-known shaman, to find an auspicious opening date for the hotel. On visiting the site, Luang Suwichanpat remarked that the hotel had never performed a rite to ask for permission from the sacred deities that resided in the area. The hotel’s name, ‘Erawan’, was also the name of the god Indra’s three-headed elephant. According to Luang Suwichanpat, all this required a proper ceremony to be performed in order to pay respects to the gods.

This was why the Erawan Shrine was built in the year 1956, according to historian Siripoj Laomanacharoen.

In the following decades, belief in the shrine’s spiritual power grew among devotees. Many people flocked to the shrine with their prayers. Some came asking for solutions to their problems. Couples came to ask for children. Students came to ask for good grades. Devotees believe that if their prayers are answered, they must bring a wooden elephant to the shrine. Today there are scores of wooden elephants of all shapes and sizes placed there by happy devotees.

During the decades that followed the installation of the Erawan Shrine, the surrounding Ratchaprasong area went through a period of remarkable commercialization. In the 1960s, the Thai-Daimaru department store opened just across the street from the shrine. Thai-Daimaru was reputed as the first building in Thailand with an escalator. Many more department stores followed in the coming years, including the World Trade Center, which is now Central World.

Although these commercial centers were characterized by rapid modernization and consumerism, the owners still believed in the mystical forces of the area. When the World Trade Center opened for business in the 1990s, it was believed that the cosmic vibes of the Erawan Shrine were so intense that the store owners installed an additional shrine for Phra Trimurati, another Hindu god, as a counter force.

In recent years, operators of several commercial buildings in the area have decided to build shrines to Hindu gods for this very reason. The Amarin Plaza has Lord Indra, the king of the Hindu gods, at its entrance. Gaysorn Plaza, another luxurious mall across the street, has a shrine built for Phra Lakshmi, the wife of Lord Vishnu, the sustainer of the universe.

Due to the sacred shrines devoted to the gods and the hundreds of devotees who come to pay their respects daily, the Ratchaprasong intersection has become known as the ‘Intersection of the Gods’.

Despite the fact that it is one of the busiest and most developed spots in Bangkok, it is still believed that the area is filled with sacred forces that need to be revered and respected.

— Anand Singh


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Crime2 hours ago

Court issues arrest warrant for Sia B’s father, the ‘real owner’ of Mountain B

Thailand3 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Tourism minister joins Full Moon Party on Koh PhaNgan

World3 hours ago

Monkeypox variants renamed to avoid offending people

Sponsored12 hours ago

British International School Phuket: Reflecting on 25 years of world-class education

Tourism3 hours ago

Thailand ranks as fourth most popular destination among Chinese travellers

Crime4 hours ago

Thailand sentences musician to 6 years for royal defamation

Central Thailand4 hours ago

Thai doctor slaps a 3 year old for swearing & refuses to treat him

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand4 hours ago

Thailand records fifth case of monkeypox in Thai woman

Guides5 hours ago

Why you should visit a wellness retreat in Thailand

Thailand5 hours ago

Govt take a trip to the shroom to help Thailand’s depressed

Chiang Mai6 hours ago

E. coli contamination found at popular waterfall in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand

Travel6 hours ago

Impressive beachfront hotels to book in Phuket

Crime6 hours ago

Thai temple man charged with murder of alleged would-be robber

Travel6 hours ago

5 incredible beaches in Phuket to visit in 2022

Travel6 hours ago

Board game cafes in Bangkok to unleash your competitive streak

Cannabis6 hours ago

Cannabis is illegal on Khao San Road, officials call for crackdown

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11