In a small farm village of Doi Lor (written also as Doi Lo or Doi Lhor), not far from the towns of Mae Wang and Sanpatong, about an hours drive from central Chiang Mai, is a unique museum, under the shadow of Thailand’s largest mountain, Doi Inthanon. The name “Doi Lor” means mountain view, and the area has the most prominent view of this mighty mountain to the West. This is one of my favorite areas of rural Thailand, and I want to introduce it to others.
The Ganesha Museum in Doi Lor is actually more of a temple than a museum, but unlike other Thai temples, this one is primarily dedicated to ancient Hindu religious symbols, especially the God called Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god.
While Thailand is a Buddhist country, Hindu influences are fairly strong and are represented in Thai temples often with Thai names. For the Lord Ganesh, it is usually referred to as Phra Phikanet. It is considered good luck in Thailand to have a Ganesha shrine, especially in situations where a Thai is starting a new venture, like opening a new business, taking a long overseas journey, or building a new house or at a wedding. One of the most famous Ganesha shrines in Bangkok is outside of a major symbol of trade there, located at Central World in front of the Isetan store on Ratchadamri Road.
Lord Ganesh is also connected to fine arts, and in official Thai activities related to the arts there is often a Ganesha shrine involved. For the Thailand Department of Fine Arts, the elephant-head god is in the agency’s logo. You will often see a Ganesha symbol on the logos of movie production and TV companies in Thailand.
Ganesha in Thailand is the lucky god and is associated with success, wisdom, wealth and accomplishment. The Ganesha Museum in Doi Lor may appear to be something you would find in India, but is really very much of a Thai tradition as well.
This is an interesting little excursion from Chiang Mai city, or as a stop over on the way to Doi Inthanon National Park or the river canyons outside of Mae Wang. The area around Doi Lor has perfect little Thai farms and rice fields, with grazing cows and water buffaloes. This is the real Thailand, away from the tourist crowds in a place that I enjoy so very much.
The museum is privately owned, and admission is free. It is open every day from 9 am till 5 pm. There is a Worshiping Hall where every Sunday at 10am a service of worship is held and to which all visitors are welcome to attend. The museum is home to over 1000 Ganesha collected from all over Asia in three buildings. The setting for the museum and temples is a beautiful tropical garden with orchids hanging from the trees. It is an oasis in an area surrounded by rice fields. Photography within the museum and temples are not permitted, so I able to only show a touch of what is available.
When coming to the area, a visitor will find many other little roads with almost no traffic that beg for exploring, especially if you are on a motorbike. You will bump into small stands of fruit and vegetable sellers from the local farms, traditional Thai houses, a little cafe or coffee house, a Thai temple here and there and interesting country folk going about their business. It makes for a good one day excursion from the crowded central Chiang Mai city.
To get to the Ganesha museum, travel south on Hwy 108, the Hang Dong Road. Go past Hang Dong, past the town of Sanpatong that follows it and travel about 5 km further south of Sanpatong before you start seeing the blue signs pointing you towards the Ganesha Museum on the other side of the road. Once you find that little road to Doi Lor, you will go to the Museum which is on the left hand side after about 6km. If you want to stay the night, there is one very good hotel I can recommend, the Bandin Resort Hotel, TripAdvisor information.