ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Bangkok: Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine (a.k.a. Penis Shrine)

Updated on January 6, 2018
punacoast profile image

The author lives in a quiet rural community in lower Puna on the Big Island. He's an avid gardener, traveler, and photographer.

Colorful collection of phallic lingams
Colorful collection of phallic lingams | Source


Visiting Bangkok you will no doubt have plenty of tourist attractions to see and explore! However, there is one very unusual and fascinating place that you may not want to miss: Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine. Situated in an upscale neighborhood filled with foreign embassies, five-star hotels and luxury condos in central Bangkok, this obscure little shrine is dedicated to a female animist deity – the Goddess Tuptim. It is one of the oldest shrines in the city, believed to be built in the early 20th century, and also known as Penis Shrine, Phallic Shrine, Fertility Shrine or simply Tuptim Shrine.

Virtually unknown to tourists (largely due to the fact that it is not listed in most guidebooks!), Tuptim Shrine is located in a park on the bank of the Khlong Saen Saep canal, just inside the parking lot of the swanky Swissôtel Hotel Bangkok!

Spirit house at Tuptim Shrine
Spirit house at Tuptim Shrine | Source
Penises at base of banyan tree
Penises at base of banyan tree | Source

Upon entering the park, you will see a beautiful teak structure called “spirit house” (a miniature temple mounted on a pillar) festooned with flower garlands and surrounded by, yes, hundreds of penises! The penises – carved out of wood or stone – are offerings that people have brought to the shrine over the years. Painted brightly (mostly red) the penises are also adorned with colorful fabric ribbons. Some are small, some are gigantic – over 8 feet long! Some stand erect, others flop on the ground. Some have fine realistic detail, others are cartoonish looking! Many of
them are hurdled together at the base of several ancient banyan trees growing in the park.

Looking pretty!
Looking pretty! | Source

Origin of Tuptim Shrine

No one knows exactly how the shrine came to be. According to legend, once upon a time there was a barren Thai woman who came to the park and prayed to the Goddess Tuptim (believed to reside in one of the banyan trees) for a blessing. Shortly afterward, the woman miraculously became pregnant and eventually gave birth to a baby boy. To thank the Goddess, she brought a lingam – phallic shaped ceremonial amulet – as an offering and placed it at the base of a banyan tree. Hearing the story, other women – who experienced child bearing problems – followed suit and soon, penises in all sizes and shapes started piling up around the shrine!

In Thai culture (and several other cultures around the world), a phallus is a symbol of luck, prosperity, and fertility. Many Thai women and men wear phallic shaped amulets or pendants (called palad khik) around their necks as good luck charms as well as to ward off evil spirits.

Large wooden penis
Large wooden penis | Source

There is another interesting story behind the origin of the Penis Shrine. The park used to be a garden at the home of the “Beloved Millionaire” Nai Lert Sreshthaputra (1872-1945). Besides being Thailand’s most successful businessman, Nai Lert was also an inventor, philanthropist, environmentalist, and nature lover. To thank the beneficial “tree” spirits that bestowed great financial prosperity on him, Nai Lert built a spirit house in his garden near the banyan trees. (It’s a common practice in Thailand where many shops and private homes often build a spirit house in the most auspicious location on their property for good luck and protection.) After Nai Lert passed away, his garden became a park (officially named Nai Lert Park) and the spirit house turned into a shrine. In the beginning, people left traditional offerings like flowers and incenses at the shrine, but according to a sign posted near the park entrance, it says the shrine “has received yet another, rather unconventional kind of gift, phallic in shape, both small and large, stylized and highly realistic. Over the years they have been brought by the thousands and today fill the area around the shrine. Confronted by the extraordinary display, the shrine has automatically been concluded to be dedicated to fertility.”

Gifts for the Goddess Tuptim
Gifts for the Goddess Tuptim | Source

Today, when you visit Tuptim Shrine, you will see plenty of offerings of fresh flowers (rose, jasmine, marigold), as well as candles and incenses. There are also many food items like bowls of rice, cakes, and fruits like bananas, oranges, and coconuts that people put on the altar in front of the spirit house. There are even beautiful women’s costumes (Thai chakri silk dresses) hung on tree branches as gifts for the Goddess Tuptim. However, the vast majority of the offerings are, still, the incredible assortment of big and small penises!!!

People today still come to Tuptim Shrine looking for a miracle. Women from across Thailand and from other Asian countries visit here to pay respect to the Goddess Tuptim, believing she will grant pregnancy wishes as they worship her. Many of the women also pray for guidance on family life and marriage. Young girls ask for blessings on love and romance. Men come to pray for love as well, but also for luck on business and financial matters (i.e. to be rich and successful like businessman Nai Lert).

Flower and incense offerings
Flower and incense offerings | Source
More fertility offerings!
More fertility offerings! | Source

HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE PENIS SHRINE IN BANGKOK?

See results

To Get Here

There are several ways to get to Tuptim Shrine. Some of the directions on the Internet have you walking through the Swissôtel Hotel lobby and garden/pool area to get to the shrine (technically located on the hotel property) but you may encounter problems with hotel securities as they try to discourage tourists from wandering around. The easiest way (and to avoid going through the hotel) is to take the Skytrain and get off at Chit Lom BTS Station. From there, walk east along the main road Rama I for about 2 blocks then turn left onto Som Khit Street. This lovely little street is lined with high-rise condos on one side and a small canal on the other side. You will walk pass the ultra-chic Central Chidlom Tower (bank/shopping/restaurant) on the left. Keep walking until you reach the end of the street. On your right is the back entrance/parking lot of the Swissôtel Hotel. Walk across the bridge to the guard station and tell the guards you want to visit the Tuptim Shrine. The friendly guards (who are used to this request from local residents and the few adventurous tourists!) will direct you to the shrine which is about 50 feet away at the end of the parking lot.

Standing penises
Standing penises | Source
A
:

get directions

Nai Lert Park (at Swissotel Hotel Bangkok)

Many more penises under old banyan tree!
Many more penises under old banyan tree! | Source

Visiting Tuptim Shrine

-Tuptim Shrine is open year round. Best to visit during daytime hours.

- When you visit Tuptim Shrine, or any temple in Thailand, be respectful of the local beliefs and cultural practices.

- Keep quiet and avoid laughing/joking loudly as you may disturb people who are praying or worshiping.

- Refrain from taking or moving the phalluses from their location. Locals believe by disturbing the phalluses, one can evoke the Goddess’s anger and she will heap all sorts of calamities on you!

- Take plenty of pictures, this may be the only place in the world where you find yourself surrounded by a forest of giant penises!

- Whether you wish to conceive or become rich and famous, you may want to leave an offering at the spirit house and ask for a blessing from the Goddess. You never know!

About This Article

The author visited Bangkok’s Tuptim Shrine in August 2012. He felt like Alice in the wonderland of giant circumcised penises!

All photos were taken by the author with a SamsungPL120 DualView 14.2MP Digital Camera.

All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2013 Viet Doan (punacoast)


© 2013 Viet Doan

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Jeane 

      5 years ago

      Excellent info from

      Punacoast as usual!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)