Image by Diana Mayfield Getty Images
This large Tibetan-style chorten is one of the most visible religious structures in Thimphu, and for many Bhutanese it is the focus of their daily worship. It was built in 1974 as a memorial to the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–72). Early morning is especially tranquil as elderly people shuffle in, and spruced-up kids on their way to school whiz in and out to pay homage.
The whitewashed chorten, with its sun-catching golden finial, is decorated with richly painted annexes facing the cardinal directions, and features elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the popular king. Throughout the day people circumambulate the chorten, whirl the large red prayer wheels and pray at a small shrine inside the gate. Particularly charming is the dedicated group of old timers hauling away at room-size giant prayer wheels beside the main entrance.