Phallic Shrine in Bangkok
It was afternoon and we were itching to see some non-touristy places in Bangkok after some minor shopping in Platinum Fashion Mall.
Vasu suggested that we go to this shrine which is famous for seeking the blessings for fertility. And so it is also called Fertility shrine. Although we were done with fertility for this lifetime, 🙂 I agreed and we started walking in the bright and hot sunshine!
We were guided by the map up to a point then we were on our own. People could not understand what we were saying or where we wanted to go. Eventually we reached Swissotel Nailert Park Hotel and asked the security guard. With a sheepish grin he directed us to a small garden at the back.
Ah! What a surprise ! We were in the midst of giant phalluses (or is it phalli?). All carved out of wood or stone!
Although it sits beside a modern hotel, it has a long history. The place is called Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine, simply Tuptim Shrine or more colloquially Phallic Shrine. There were Phalluses of all sizes and also shapes (like a monkey and pig). They were well decorated with ribbons and colored threads and cloths. There was an unmistakable fragrance of incense in the air to tell us that the shrine is very much in use by the locals.
The story has it that Nai Lert a Thai businessman, who owned these lands, found a Spirit House floating in the canal nearby. He picked it up and installed it in these grounds dedicating it to the tree goddess Chao Mae Tuptim, who was said to be residing in the huge tree there. With time people started worshiping this and offerings of all sorts like incense sticks, white jasmine flowers, and lotus buds, started pouring in.
Once a woman, who could not conceive came here to pray. As time went by, she got pregnant and gave birth to a baby. She was so happy that she placed here a sculpture of a phallus as an offering. Since then innumerable women have worshiped and have obviously benefited looking at 100s of phalluses here. There are several sculptures of infants as well.
Phallic objects known as palad khik are not really seen as obscene in Thailand. Many men and women wear necklaces or bracelets with a phallic pendant. Some wear them for fertility, others for good luck. Palad khik is also believed to deliver financial prosperity.
Is it strange? Hindus have been worshiping Phallic Symbol in the form of Shiva Lingam for ages. So probably a combination of Hindu influence mixed with local stories may have created this legend?
Vasu was reminded of having read something similar in a small town in Bhutan. Anyone with more details?
How to get there: Fertility Shrine (others call it the Penis Shrine) is located at 2 Wireless Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok. To get here, take the BTS and get off at the Phloen Chit station. Walk towards the Wave Place Shopping Mall and turn right. You can either walk all the way to the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park (takes 8 minutes) or take the motorcycle taxi. The shrine is at the back of the hotel, right by the river. And it’s free.
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