Previously located behind the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park Hotel in the heart of Bangkok was a shrine popular with women and families who wished to have children
By Morgan Thanarojpradit
By Morgan Thanarojpradit
THE Tuptim Shrine or Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine was raised soon after Nai Lert Phraya Bhakdinoraseth (Lert Sreshthaputra) purchased the land where Swissôtel Nai Lert Park Hotel stood, until it was sold to Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (Bangkok Hospital) to develop a holistic medical centre.
Believed that a female entity resided in the large tree on the hotel’s ground, the Chao Mae Tuptim shrine was built and the community would come to pay respect and bring offerings of flowers, food, and incense.
The rumour of the success rate for those who asked for children was high and the shrine slowly became known as the fertility shrine. It was also known to make many first-time visitors (tourists and locals alike) blush from the unique offerings people brought.
In its previous location, visitors were greeted with a multitude of phallus statues of all shapes and sizes, from a few inches in size to four or five feet tall and six inches wide. Made from carved wood to very detailed stone-carved work of art.
Women who wish to have a child will visit the shrine with offerings of incense, Jasmine garlands, lotus buds or flowers, candles, and phalluses of all shapes and sizes. Once she conceived a child, she will have to visit the shrine again with the same offerings to thank the goddess and ask for her blessings.
Those who lived in Thailand for an extended period of time would realise that sexual imagery is not uncommon in Thailand, especially phallus amulets and statues. These represent the lingams originated from the fabled Hindu God Shiva. The items are sold at various markets and believed to be infused with good luck and bring prosperity to the owner and his or her businesses. It is believed to have a mystical influence to bring customers and increase the businesses’ cash-flow.
Today, the shrine sits on the secluded Nai Lert Park Heritage Home’s ground. Located about 200 metres from the main road in Soi Somkid between Central Chidlom and Central Embassy, the Nai Lert Park Heritage Home is considered one of Bangkok’s best kept wonders. Three generations of Nai Lert family members lived in the house until it was decided unanimously in 2012 to convert the residence into a heritage property open to the community to experience its historical charms.
The private residence underwent three years of restoration in order to return Nai Lert Park Heritage Home to its former grandeur while leaving the original teak wood floors, pillars and century-old trees untouched.
Spreading across 14 rai (24,000 sq m) the house showcases antiques and artefacts dating from World War II to present day from the family’s private collections.
The fertility shrine is open to the public every Thursday and Friday with guided tours at 11 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm.