The huge 51m-tall steel statue of Buddha Dordenma commands the entry to the Thimphu valley. The massive three-storey base houses a large chapel full of thousands of donated Buddha statuettes, while the body itself is filled with 125,000 smaller statues of Buddha. The chapel roof has some particularly fine mandalas. The Buddha looks amazing when illuminated at night. The area is called Changri Kuensel Phodrang after the former palace of the 13th Druk Desi that once stood here.
The statue was made in China, cut into pieces and then shipped and trucked in from Phuentsholing – we would've loved to have seen the faces of the local farmers as the super-sized features of the Buddha drove by! The paved road to the site, also known as 'Buddha Point', passes a new Hindu temple and is a popular biking route. A 3.5km mountain-bike trail branches off from just below the Buddha site to Depsi, near Babesa; in the other direction, you can continue as far as Pangri Zampa.