Religious devotion knows no limits, and is often known to verge on the obsessive. Naturally, what follows are bizarre practices that are every bit as ridiculous as they are amusing. However, there is no denying that its pure faith which serves as the inspiration behind these unusual methods of worship.
One of the ways an unusual form of devotion is manifested is by the erection of eccentric shrines. The inspiration for such shrines may stem from anywhere. This blog brings you the most unusual & eccentric shrines worldwide.
Phallic Shrine, Bangkok – The Power of the Phallus!
Bangkok Phallic Shrine, which is the shrine of Goddess Tubtim, reveres the power of the phallus in a way never seen before! Here, one can find hundreds of phalluses, ranging from small wooden carvings to big stone sculptures that stand ten feet tall, besides being adorned with ribbons.
This temple, which honors Chao Mae Tubtim – a female fertility spirit, is visited by women when they are trying to conceive. If their wish is fulfilled, they place yet another phallus at the temple, as a mark of respect and fulfillment. This shrine is located on the grounds of the Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel in the heart of Bangkok. There is little to no information regarding its origin.
Karni Mata Temple, Rajasthan – oh my rats!
Rats never had it as good as this temple where they are accorded the highest honor. The Karni Mata Temple, constructed by Maharaja Ganga Singh in the early 1900’s, is one of the most unusual temples in Rajasthan, India. Constructed as a tribute to the rat goddess Karni Mata, this is one place where the rats are considered earthly manifestations of the divine.
Rats of all shapes and sizes are known to scurry around the temple, and eating food that has been nibbled by the rats is considered to be a great honor. Spotting a white rat is considered to be a special blessing. Upon accidentally trampling upon a rat and killing, the visitor is required to buy a gold or silver rat statue and place it in the temple, as a payment of the sin!
Goa Lawah Temple, Indonesia – bat cave!
Goa Lawah, which means “Bat Cave,” always finds a mention in the list of strange shrines of the world. One of Bali’s most important temples, its main complex is built around a cave opening inhabited by hordes of bats. The temple, located in the village of Pesinggahan, Dawan district, was established in the 11th century by Mpu Kuturan – one of the priests responsible for laying the foundations of Hinduism on this island.
For visitors, the main attraction of the temple is the centerpiece, where age-old shrines have withstood the hordes of nectar bats found around and behind the shrines at the cave opening. Quite surprisingly, this temple is also considered to be the best place for meditation, despite the din created by the constant chirping of bats.
The Snake Pagoda, Myanmar – Devotion of the Snake!
The Snake Pagoda Myanmar, or “Hmwe Paya,” as it’s locally called, is one of the weird shrines of the world. This pagoda, located near Mandalay, is distinguished by two enormous pythons who live happily coiled around the Buddha statue which is seated inside the temple. It’s said that after numerous attempts by the monks to rid the Buddha statue of the snakes, they finally gave in and associated a holy connection to the snakes.
Although the original pythons have died, those in residence currently are a fed a pot of milk and three eggs every morning, along with a small amount of goat meat. It’s believed that the snakes have never harmed anyone and are quite delighted when touched by the visitors. The original pythons can also be found here, albeit in a taxidermied state.
Bullet Baba Temple, Rajasthan – Motorbike and “Beer Prasad”!
Bullet Baba temple, located in Jodhpur, venerates the 350 cc Royal Enfield motorbike. This unusual temple in India is dedicated to a person named Om Banna, who met a fatal accident while driving his beloved “bullet.” According to locals, when the motorbike was taken to the local police station after the accident, it kept showing up at another site each time. Finally, this is where it was placed and became the idol of the temple.
The main offering, or “prasad,” at this temple is beer, and it’s commonly believed that while travelling through the Pali-Jodhpur highway, one must make a stop at this temple. Not doing so results in fatalities.
The Tiger Temple, Thailand – Worshipping the Tiger!
There is nothing more amazing than coming extremely close to a tiger. The Tiger Temple in Thailand, also known as Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno, allows you to do exactly that. It is one of the few places in the world where one can pet these enormous animals while they sleep.
Visitors can also wash the backs of the tigers at this temple sanctuary, and rest assured, this is an experience worth cherishing for a lifetime.
Stambheshwar Mahadev, Gujarat – The Submerging Temple!
Stambheshwar Mahadev Temple, which is also known as the submerging temple, is one of the most unusual Shiva shrines in India. This shrine, situated in Kavi Kamboi, Gujarat, is bound by Arabian Sea on one side and the Bay of Cambay on the other. That apart, it’s considered to be a very ancient “shivlingam” in India.
According to Hindu mythology, this “shivling” was established by Lord Kartik after slaying the demon Tarkasur. Its uniqueness arises from the fact that it’s visible only during low-tide hours. Come high tide, and it disappears from sight. Quite aptly, it has earned the name,” disappearing temple of Mahadev.”
Aeroplane Gurudwara, Punjab – from a toy to a visa!
Seeking a visa to go abroad? Offer prayers along with a toy plane at Aeroplane Gurudwara. Located in a tiny village at Talhan, about 12 km of Jalandhar, it attracts its fair share of devotees, all of whom believe that the key to going abroad lies in offering a toy here.
This unique gurudwara was erected in the memory of Saint Nihal Singh, about whom however, not much is known.
Kal Bhairav Temple, Madhya Pradesh – An Alcohol-Loving God!
On a trip to discover some of the most weird shrines in the world? Try visiting Kal Bhairav Temple, located in the Ujjain city of Madhya Pradesh. Located on the banks of the Shipra River, this temple witnesses hundreds of devotees daily. Nothing unusual, right? Except that, alcohol is a major offering made to the deity in the temple here.
Upon visiting the temple, the devotees handover the liquor bottles to the priest, who, after pouring it in a saucer, tilts the bottle near the deity’s lips. Unbelievably, the alcohol begins to disappear. After this ritual, about one-third of the bottle is returned to the devotees as “prasad.”