Chao Mae Tuptim “Penis” Shrine, Bangkok

If there is one thing that you are guaranteed to find around almost every corner in Thailand, it is a shrine of some description. These often take the form of spirit houses (something I mentioned briefly here Many Thais believe that Spirits live in, or own the earth and so when building a new property, they must first build a new home for the spirit to live in. The spirits are believed to offer protection, good health and are often believed to be able to grant wishes as well.

Bangkok is even known as “Krungthep” which can be translated as “City of Angels or Deities”. Yet inspite of knowing there are shrines to almost every deity imaginable it is still somewhat of a surprise to stumble across a little corner of the Swissotel Nai Lert Park (at 2 Wireless road nearest to Ploenchit or Chitlom BTS stations) which is home to the “Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine” otherwise known as the penis shrine!

The shrine is said to date back to the early 20th century and was built by the original owner of the hotel Nai Lert, a successful business man whose family remain owners of the hotel to this day. Legend has it that he saw a spirit house floating down the Klong and so rescued it and rehomed it on his property next to a large tree – the shrine takes it’s name from the tree spirit “Chao Mae Tuptim”. It is now home to hundreds of phallic statues of all shapes and sizes (stop sniggering!) and people come from all over to pay their respects and leave offerings to the spirits in the hope that they will get pregnant.

When I was there recently there were many people lining up to leave jasmine flowers and incense and wrapping brightly coloured fabrics around the trees. As part of the hotels 30th anniversary, they also had traditional Thai dancers there performing and a blessing was also done. Whilst it was fascinating to watch, I kept to a safe distance, being in no position to need any fertility assistance just yet! I read about the Tiger shrine on the Bangkok girl blog here Are there any more intriguing shrines around the City that I should visit?

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