Chorten Kora

Eastern Bhutan

Chorten Kora is large, but not nearly as large as the stupa of Bodhnath in Nepal, after which it was patterned. It was constructed in 1740 by Lama Ngawang Loday in memory of his uncle, Jungshu Phesan, and to subdue local spirits.

In front of the chorten is a natural stone stupa, the sertho, which used to sit atop the chorten and is considered sacred. There is also a small goemba here. The popular Bhutanese film Chorten Kora was shot here.

The story behind the chorten is that Lama Ngawang Loday went to Nepal and brought back a model of Bodhnath carved in a radish. He had it copied here so that people could visit this place instead of making the arduous trip to Nepal. The reason that Chorten Kora is not an exact copy of Bodhnath is because the radish shrank and was distorted during the return trip.

During the first month of the lunar calendar (February or March) there is an auspicious kora held here, where people gain merit by walking around the main chorten and its inner kora. It is celebrated on two separate dates (the 15th and 30th days of the lunar month). The first date (Dakpa Kora) is for the people from the Dakpa community in Arunachal Pradesh, India, who make the three-day pilgrimage here to celebrate the sacrifice of an eight-year-old girl from Arunachal Pradesh, who was enshrined in the chorten to appease a troublesome demon. The second kora (Drukpa Kora) is for the Bhutanese, who come from all over eastern Bhutan, including from the Merak and Sakteng regions, to attend the local fair and gain some good karma by witnessing the unfurling of a giant thondrol. Dozens of stalls and gambling stands give pilgrims a chance to catch up on some shopping and local gossip. A month before the festival the chorten is whitewashed anew. This is paid for with funds earned from rice grown in the fields surrounding the chorten.

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