Bangkok is known for some weird and wonderful things, however, one of the most unusual I have stumbled across has to be the Chao Mae Tuptim shrine in the back of Swissotel Nai Lert.
Now, Bangkok is full of shrines but this one is a little different. For you see the Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine is a beautiful and culturally significant site located in the heart of Bangkok that’s dedicated to the spirit of Tuptim, a female fertility goddess who is said to bring good fortune and blessings to those who worship her.
Located in the Wat Chong Lom area, this shrine is one of the most popular attractions in the city and is renowned for its stunning statues and ornate decorations… by that, I mean it’s famous for being full of penises.
No, no, not real ones. That would be weird. But hundreds of stone and wood (hah!) phalluses. Some are big, some are small, and some are bedazzled. But all are there to represent fertility and virility and are often adorned with offerings such as flowers, incense, and candles too, making it a vibrant and colourful destination to visit.
But the grounds weren’t always so full of wood. It is believed that Mr Nai Lert himself built the shrine, for the spirit believed to reside in the ficus tree. However, rumours of fertility started soon after a lady visited the shrine with the wish to become pregnant. When her wish was granted she returned to the shrine and gave an offering of a wooden phallus. News spread and before long the shrine had gained a reputation for delivering good fortune in fertility… And if you go by the number of penises there, I’d say a fair few got lucky!
The shrine is situated in a peaceful area just around the back of the Swissotel grounds, and visitors are greeted by a large, intricately carved wooden gate. Inside the shrine, there are dozens of statues and icons dedicated to Tubtim, each one unique and representing different aspects of her power and influence. But whether you are looking to connect with Thai culture and spirituality, or simply want to admire something new and different… Beware. Local superstition believes that if you even so much as touch one of the penises, you’ll be blessed with a child!