We stumbled across this fascinating place today on our way back from a walk up to Wat Pha Lat.
The sign on the side of the road stated ‘The World Largest Wood Carving Ganesha’. How could we resist. We cycled a short distance up the road to find a narrow laneway appearing to lead to nowhere however after about 50 metres we came across a very unusual scene (at least for Chiang Mai). A large green expanse of artificial grass with the ‘as advertised’ carved timber Ganesha image. It was quite impressive so I took a few photos and then wandered up a ‘grassed’ slope to an artwork that was in progress. It was here that I met Khem, a retired political economist, who was responsible for this amazing site. He has a vision for this site that extends over 20 years!
The site is where Khem, and his wife Nok, had their house, raised their family and lived for many years. The house is now part of of the artistic complex.
Khem is not an artist but has a creative vision for the site and has a group of 6 artists that he directs to complete his vision. He has a 3 story building containing, amongst other things, over one hundred doors painted and decorated in different Thai styles. These doors are around 2 metres tall, 50-75 mm thick, with some hand carved 25mm deep on each side. To top it off they are also painted in beautiful colours and with gold leaf. There are also large paintings on the walls and some magnificent carved glass panels. It is all simply stunning.
The aforementioned incomplete art work is a teak wood panel, currently measuring 6 by 2.5 metres, that will ultimately be 10 metres wide! It has taken two years to complete this small amount and completion of the entire scene is another 4 years off! The scene is of two battling armies with each comprising about 50,00 combatants. Once complete it will decorate the ceiling of a chamber that will hold 40 people.
The building that will hold the battle scene will have as its entrance the mouth of a mythical beast. This cavern is where the completed battle scene will decorate the ceiling. The building will be made of copper and stand 8 metres tall and 10 metres wide. It will be completed in another 12 years!!
I thoroughly recommend a visit to this unique place in Chiang Mai. It is a little difficult to find but well worth the effort. The site is not listed on google maps but feel free to contact me and I’ll provide the best directions I can. The address is 79/7 Soi 2, Suthep Rd, Chiang Mai. There is also a facebook page (in Thai) for the gallery – find it here.
Khem is a man of vision who is spending his retirement years building a legacy that future generations of local Thai and visiting tourists will enjoy for years to come. All power to him.