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Shrines and Spirit Houses of Bangkok Thailand

Shrines, are places of worship where you'd go to pay respect to sacred religious icons in Buddhism and Hinduism, who in turn could grant you love, happiness, good fortune, success, luck or even fertility. Some of these shrines are very famous, while others are bizarre enough to make you blush - and not even listed in official tourist guides.

Spirit houses are common throughout Thailand, and can be found outside almost every house and building. The doll house-sized homes are set atop a pedestal and placed in an auspicious location, which allows residents, workers and others to offer prayers and small gifts to appease spirits, believed to be dwelling in the land, trees or elsewhere nearby. Most spirit houses do not develop into full-fledged shrines, and are said to be a tradition continued from pre-Buddhist and pre-Hindu time, when Thailand was heavily influenced by animism. Spirit houses in Thailand usually include doll-sized human figures, or perhaps a small figurine of Buddha.

Erawan Shrine
It was established during the mid 1950s, after the Thai government had decided to build the luxury Erawan Hotel on this location. However, the first stages of the construction were beset with so many problems that superstitious labourers refused to continue unless the land spirits were appeased.

Trimurti Shrine
In Hinduism, Trimurti represents the three aspects of God: Brahma (the Source/Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Transformer or Destroyer). Some resemblance with the concept of Trinity in Christianity is evident here. Many claim Trimurti is especially successful in matching foreign mates with Thai partners, and the shrine is so crowded on a Thursday night that you'll have to wait your turn. What we wouldn't do for love...

The deity is a gold statue of a human body with two heads and four arms. The heads are one on top of the other, and the lower head has four faces. Built in 1989, the Trimurti Shrine is on a raised platform, sheltered by a dome on four pillars with elaborately carved gables at the four sides. There's an open area around the shrine with a ring of seats for worshippers to sit and reflect. Crafted in classical Indian sculpture with a Thai touch, the statue is a replica of the original from Ayutthaya.

Ganesha Shrine
Directly adjacent to Trimurti stands another important Hindu shrine, this time for Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati. Ganesha is considered a master of intellect and wisdom, and visitors here seek to be blessed with artistic success and accomplishment. The deity is one of the more recognizable because of his elephant head, human components , elements of serpents, and the big belly that it is depicted with. His attendant is a mouse.

Mae Nak Shrine
"Pii Maak khaaa," Mae Nak wailed, desperately calling and reaching out to Maak, her husband from a different realm. This is, perhaps, one of the most memorable lines in the history of Thai TV drama based on a well-known folk tale, 'Mae Nak Prakanong' (Mother Nak of Prakanong District).

Shrine of Goddess Tubtim
Literally hundreds of penises (phalluses) - from small wooden carvings to big stone sculptures that stand ten feet tall and decorated with ribbons - make this shrine quite unique. It honors Chao Mae Tubtim, a female fertility spirit. Women visit this shrine when they are trying to conceive, leaving offerings of lotus and jasmine. And if rumours can be believed, the shrine has a good success rate.

Spirit Houses
There are four kinds of spirit house seen around Bangkok, the most common being the 'San Jao Tii' and 'San Pra Phoom', which often appear together in pairs. Most are made of auspicious wood and resemble a traditional Thai house or temple, though increasingly in downtown Bangkok and beyond spirit houses are cast in concrete or stone and sport hi-tech designs. They often have foreign architectural accents, like Chinese gables or Khmer-style prangs.


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