The Art of the Phallus in PhraNang Beach

Stumbling on a strange ‘Phallus Shrine’ at the Phranang Beach in Thailand.

You can’t stop clicking here.

 

Did I tell you about the time I walked on to a beach in Thailand and discovered a shrine full of phalluses? Not one, but two shrines! Thailand never stops titillating your senses.

Being from India, I did not find the shrine scandalous at all. We worship the Shiva Lingam widely in India. Back in my native state Assam, we worship the female Yoni of the Goddess in the Kamakhya temple.

 

FullSizeRender 24.jpg
Behind the Sadhu, you can see the menstruating deity in Kamakhya Temple, Assam.

 

But what sets these little shrines in Thailand apart from everything else I have seen is the art. THE ART OF THE PHALLUS.

Have you ever seen phalluses of such numbers, design, shape, size, and colors as these?

Am I happy?
A veritable mountain of male genitalia.
Two in one. Weird right?
Some look like matchsticks. Some are just tree stumps.

I never knew about this shrine or anything about this beach called the Phra Nang Beach.

All I did was hop on a long tail boat with my friend, from Krabi town for Railay Beach. The Longtail boat dumped us mid-morning onto a shaky pier with no further instructions. We explored the east of the pier that was Railay East. Here, there was a lot of cliff-climbing happening. Then we headed to the west. On the way, we found a trekking spot to a lagoon further up in the hills. I mentally marked the trek for later. Then we made our way under some urine stinking caves and came to what was marked as Phra Nang Bay. It was the most delicious sight, I must describe it only in pictures.

The green beach.
Long tail boats.

Rows of people sunbathing and kids frolicking. I avoided the crowded areas and set off towards the shaded cliff area which looked inviting for a swim. And that is when my eyes fell upon this cavern full of penises in the dark. At first, I didn’t believe my eyes and gave a cry. My friend went ahead to inspect and started laughing. Soon I joined in and entered the shrine. Colorful pieces of cloth hang on some. Some were wooden, some conjoined, some disjointed, some outright funny, some intimidating. An ocean of male genitalia. I noticed that there was incense, someone must pray in this place. As some other people came and began smirking, I felt bad at making fun of someone else’s place of worship and belief. I clicked some pictures, prayed and moved on. I came onto a second similar cavern, only this seemed neglected. Unlike the first one, nobody had arranged the phalluses in a row before the shrine. So I proceeded to set up the place by picking the bigger wooden phalluses in a row. There was an elderly couple following my activity. Soon, the lady joined me too, and we set up the shrine neat.

Colorful pieces of cloth hang on some. Some were wooden, some conjoined, some disjointed, some outright funny, some intimidating. An ocean of male genitalia. I noticed that there was incense, someone must pray in this place. As some other people came and began smirking, I felt bad at making fun of someone else’s place of worship and belief. I clicked some pictures, prayed and moved on. I came onto a second similar cavern, only this seemed neglected. Unlike the first one, nobody had arranged the phalluses in a row before the shrine. So I proceeded to set up the place by picking the bigger wooden phalluses in a row. There was an elderly couple following my activity. Soon, the lady joined me too, and we set up the shrine neat.

A small plaque in the shrine states

“It is believed by the villagers that the spirit of Phranang (Princess Goddess) resides in the cave.

Fishermen, before going out, would pledge Phranang for good luck. With their wishes fulfilled, votive offerings would be made at the shrine. Common gifts are flowers and incense sticks, but usually, the spirits of goddess shall be offered special gifts, the lingams.

However, this has nothing to do with the Thai people’s religions, neither Buddhism nor Islam, that the belief of lingam and holy womb, shall create fertility and prosperity to the whole earth and mankind.”

As to who Princess Phranang was, locals believe she was an Indian princess killed in a shipwreck, or that she was the wife of a fisherman lost at sea. The mystery around Phranang is not clear, but fishermen have been offering carved and artful phalluses to her for good fortune at the seas. I found another legend near the trekking trail about Phranang.

After the cave, we went swimming in the beautiful beach and had lunch from one of the long tail boats selling packed lunch. Remember not to litter plastic around and put all waste in the black dustbins posted on the beach. Towards late afternoon, we set off to trek the treacherous trail marked by only ropes. We were joined by a German guy on a honeymoon who said his wife was relaxing in Railay, while he came to check this trail out. He was sweet and he kept saying how his English was not good enough as he had left ‘Training’ long back. The uphill was dangerous and we toiled, only to know the lagoon was muddy and not worthwhile by returning trekkers. We forked our way and reached the top viewing point instead, where we calmed down and talked to each other.

As I write this post, I ask myself why do I write about travel. Or why do I write at all.

And the answer comes, borrowed from what I read last night in a book ‘Seahorse,’ by Janice Pariat.

“You see, I have always thought that people write, paint, compose music, for remembrance. Like what Philip Larkin said- that at the bottom of all art lies the impulse to preserve. Lest we forget.

Works of art are beautiful scars.”

Check this video on the Phallus shrine that I made. It’s a bit funny and weird, especially the part where the tourist comes to help me set up the shrine.

Also, the lagoon trek video if you want to know how the trail looks like,

Share this post if you want your friends to check out this strange shrine.

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