East Asian tourists are usually thick on the ground at the bustling Ratchaprasong intersection in the heart of one of Bangkok's fancier shopping districts. Five-star hotels and upscale restaurants are a stone's throw away, and it is easy to slip in and out of air-conditioned cocoons of luxurious consumption. But the big draw at Ratchaprasong is not the secular pleasures of Bangkok. In fact, it is the cluster of popular Hindu shrines that keep foreign visitors and local residents coming back for more. Tourists from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia often make a beeline for their favourite shrine, armed with offerings and a prayer or two. The same goes for Bangkokians. Thailand may be a devoutly Buddhist country, but when it comes to merit-making and increasing your luck, pretty much anything goes. Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist - all are welcome at these shrines. The most prominent Hindu shrine in Bangkok is that of Brahma, who sits on his throne in front of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, facing the snarl of traffic at the Ratchaprasong crossroads. This statue dates back to 1956, when the original Erawan Hotel was built. Hindu shrines are believed to bring prosperity to the owners of the property on which they sit, and this hotel has certainly done well out of Thailand's boom. Across the road, and more aligned to a new generation's idea of good fortune, is the Trimurti shrine. It honours the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the creator, preserver and destroyer. Teenagers and young couples flock here because it is known as a lovers' shrine, where prayers for romance and happiness are answered. Nobody seems sure why this should be, or how this fits into Hinduism, but the crowds keep coming. The Trimurti also meets another purpose. Its positioning is said to be a deliberate attempt to check the enormous power of the Brahma statue directly across the road. Though protective, Brahma's influence is apparently so great that it can interfere with the natural order of things. A Thai theologian has warned that the Trimurti shrine might not be up to the job, though, as its gods do not carry any mythical weapons that would increase their power. 'I think they might not be in a position to check the power of the Brahma shrine,' Kitti Wattanmahatma told The Nation newspaper. A shrine to Ganesh, the elephant god, has stood for many years outside the cavernous mall now called Central World Plaza. A second Ganesh was later added at the rear of the building, because the owners reckoned that, when it comes to a god associated with wisdom and success, you cannot have too much of a good thing.