This large chorten is one of the most visible landmarks in Thimphu, and for many Bhutanese it is the focus of daily worship. The Tibetan-style stupa was built in 1974 as a memorial to the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (1928–72). Early morning is a great time to visit, as elderly people shuffle meditatively around the chorten, families light butter lamps, and kids dressed in their smartest ghos and kiras (traditional dress for men and women) rush out a quick kora (ritual circumambulation) on their way to school.
The whitewashed chorten, with its sun-catching golden finial, has richly painted annexes facing the cardinal directions, and features elaborate mandalas, statues and a shrine dedicated to the popular king. The action continues from dawn till long after dark, but tourists are discouraged from visiting at night to give devotees some respite. Clock the dedicated group of old timers hauling away at room-size giant prayer wheels beside the main entrance.