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National Memorial Chorten – Thimphu

This large impressive monument with its golden spire was built in 1974 to honour the memory of the third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928 – 1972).

Built by his mother Her Majesty the late Queen Ashi Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck, the whitewashed chorten is decorated with richly carved annexes facing the four directions, and features elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the popular third king. There are numerous religious paintings and complex tantric statues housed inside reflecting both peaceful and wrathful aspects of Buddhist deities.

The memorial chorten, with its sun-catching golden finial, is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many people it is the focus of their daily worship. Throughout the day people circumambulate the chorten, whirl the large red prayer wheels and pray in the adjacent shrine. The early morning is particularly tranquil as elderly people shuffle in and spruced-up kids on their way to school whiz in and out to pay homage.

There are no mortal remains of the King inside the Chorten. There is only a photograph draped in ceremonial scarves on the ground floor.

Thimphu Chorten

The National Memorial Chorten – popularly known as the Thimphu Chorten is the most visible religious structure in Thimphu.

Thimphu Chorten

The Thimphu Chorten lit up at night.

Inside Information

The chorten houses wrathful statues of tantric buddhism

Most visitors don’t visit the inside of the chorten. It is possible to visit the inside of this chorten, and climb right up to the top, and go out on the railed terrace on the third floor. You will be surprised to not find any peaceful and serene looking statues of the Buddha inside this chorten. The statues are all of the tantric tradition; wrathful in form, and gory in detail.

Go clockwise

Go clockwise when walking around this chorten. It is a big no-no to walk counter clockwise. This rule is true for any religious structures.

Thimphu Chorten

Giant prayer wheels that people spin clockwise to pray.

Chorten is a place of worship

Chortens are places of worship. People visit the chorten to pray. Do not be loud, and do not do anything that might disturb the rhythm of life. Be extra careful when taking photographs of people. Do not disturb them by asking them for their permission when they are praying.

Thimphu Chorten

Throughout the day people gather at this chorten to pray.

>> Pictures of the National Memorial Chorten

One Comment

  1. Scooter
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I applaud the photographer. The pictures are incredible! Moreover, it’s a very informative article.
    Five stahs’

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