Bangkok’s Unknown Fertility Shrine
A small shrine, hidden away on a hotel’s grounds, contains hundreds of wooden models of a penis, placed there by women wanting to become pregnant. Almost unknown by tourists and undocumented in most tourist guidebooks, it is easy to find and worth visiting.
Located on the grounds of the Nai Lert Park Hotel, a five star hotel in the Raffles chain, it is only about 20 or 25 meters (yards) square, but contains hundreds of offerings by hopeful women. The centerpiece is a small spirit house, placed on a pole about 1.5 meters (5 feet) high that is covered with coloured cloth. Candles are placed in front of the spirit house, and colourful flowers are changed daily. There is a marble stand in front of the spirit house where people can make offerings. To the left of the spirit house is a 3 meter (10 feet) tall wooden penis, draped in colourful cloth banners.
This shrine is very old, dating back at least to the early twentieth century, and possibly earlier. Inside the spirit house is a plaque displaying a female, who is the goddess, Phra Mae Tuptim.
A small sign at the entrance says, “Chao Mae Tuptim, or Goddess Tuptim Shrine.
“The origins of Chao Mae Tuptim are obscure.
“It can only be recalled that a spirit house was built by Nai Lert, for the spirit who was believed to reside in the large Sai (Ficus) tree.
“The basic offerings are fragrant wreaths of snow-white Jasmine flowers, incense sticks, pink and white lotus buds.”
There are many small ceramic figures, called the “Lords of the Land”, placed in front of the spirit house. These are quite common in Thailand and found in most spirit houses.
There is a bronze statue of Nai Lert, seated with a leopard by his side, just in front of the main entrance to the hotel. According to the brass plaque in front of the statue, “Nai Lert Sreshthaputra (1872 – 1945) was Thailand’s first and foremost developer, inventor, as well as preserver of Bangkok’s green environment. He introduced ice, modernized sea-going vessels, and initiated white boats, trams, and metropolitan white buses.
“Praya Bhakdinorasreth (‘Beloved Millionaire’) was the title royally bestowed on Nai Lert for his good deeds. A philanthropist, a nature lover, an inventor; his legacy lives on at Nai Lert Park, where he lived.”
The shrine is not advertised anywhere, probably because it is not politically correct in Thailand to talk about or advertise anything to do with genitalia. There are no signs at the hotel directing you to it.
Finding it, though, is quite easy. Just take Wireless Road (Thanon Wittayu) to the Nai Lert Park Hotel; it is about 150 meters (yards) from Home Pro, which is at the corner of Ploenchit and Wittayu roads. Ploenchit changes name to Sukhumvit, once you pass the railway tracks going east. It is close to Ploenchit BTS station.
There is a rather large and photogenic spirit house with a four-faced Buddha just inside the entrance of the hotel grounds. You can ask the guards for directions, but call it the “Tuptim Shrine”. Follow the driveway a short distance and you will see it splits several ways. Take the ramp up, which leads to the main entrance of the hotel. When you get to the top of the ramp, you will see a plaza with the hotel entrance at the left, and the statue of Nai Lert located in the middle of a pond. Do not enter the hotel. Simply walk staright ahead towards the pastry shop, and you will notice a stairway leading down, just to the left of the shop. Go down the stairs and you will be at the entrance to the parking garage. Do not enter the garage, just follow the driveway out about 100 meters (yards) or less, and you will come to the shrine on the right, next to the klong (canal). There is a fence and some greenery hiding the canal, but you will be able to hear the boats, and if the water is bad that day, smell it as well.
And if you want to get pregnant, it couldn’t hurt to bring a wooden penis, a small candle, some incense, and after you have placed them at the shrine, and lit the candle and incense, say a little prayer.
About the Author:
Douglas Anderson is the author of Speak Easy Thai [http://www.Thai-Culture-Publishing.com], an easy way to learn Thai vocabulary. The software runs on Windows PCs or Macs under BootCamp and includes Fundamentals of Thai Grammar [http://www.learn-faster.org/Thai], a 350-page eBook. Speak Easy Thai uses the Internet for updates, but does not require an Internet connection during operation.
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