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Locals and tourists alike all frequent the Erawan Shrine in downtown Bangkok. Some visit with offerings in tow in hopes of receiving good luck, while others simply come for the photo op. Whatever a visitor’s reasoning, here is a brief history of the Erawan Shrine.
Built in 1956 after Hindu Brahman priests suggested its creation to ward off bad luck, the Erawan Shrine’s location, which was also home to the Erawan Hotel (now known as the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok), was seemingly cursed while it was under construction. In addition to the hotel’s delayed construction, workers got hurt, and a boat carrying materials for the hotel sunk before reaching Thailand’s shores. It was then that the shrine’s construction continued, and apparently, the curse was lifted as the rest of the building carried on smoothly.
This Brahman shrine is said to continue to bring those who visit good luck, and that it will grant any visitor a wish, which is why so many locals gather here with everything from lighted incense to colorful marigold garlands to present as offerings. The shrine houses a statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hindu god of creation, Brahma; this is why the shrine is also known as the San Pha Phrom.
The god has four faces, and each one is said to represent some type of good fortune. Hindus come to pray to this god and ask that their wishes be granted. If they believe that they have been granted, many will return with gifts as a way of giving thanks. The shrine is most crowded with visitors at about sunset when Thais make a quick pit stop to the shrine after a day of work and tourists venture here in hopes of catching one of the traditional Thai dance performances that take place here.
The year 1987 saw the Erawan Hotel demolished, but the shrine remains and continues to be a popular destination for both tourists and locals; however, it has certainly been through its fair share of turmoil. On August 17, 2015, the intersection where the shrine sits was bombed, leaving 20 people dead. In a different incident, seven people were injured at this shrine when a driver slammed into the gates surrounding it after having a stroke at the wheel. The Erawan Shrine was also the site of the killing of a mentally ill man, who was beaten to death after vandalizing the Brahma statue sitting within the shrine. On all occasions, the shrine was opened almost immediately after.
The shrine sits on one of the busiest intersections in the capital: Ratchaprasong intersection. Visitors can get here easily via the BTS Skytrain Stations Siam or Chitlom. The elevated walk between these two stations is a great spot to get an overhead photograph of the shimmering shrine.