The Chorten Memorial, located in the middle of the capital Thimphu, was built to honor the Third King, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is known as ‘the father of modern Bhutan’. It was the Druk Gyalpo’s dream to build a monument to world peace and prosperity, but due to his unfortunate death in 1972 he could not fulfill his dream of erecting the Chorten. However in 1974, at the initiative of the Royal family, the Memorial took its present shape, built in the King’s memory and also as a monument to peace.
On the outside of the Chorten three statues stand upon the entrance, representing the protective Bodhisattvas – Avalokiteshvara (the symbol of compassion), Manjushri (the symbol of knowledge) and Vajrapani (the symbol of power). They reflect the deep insight into the Buddhist philosophy. Four statues of lions sit smugly upon a pillar, facing outward in four different directions. The huge golden spire is the prominent part of the monument, making it visible from almost everywhere in the capital.
Ever since its inauguration a thousand of devotees have visited the Chorten on a daily basis, especially the older ones, for they find the monument a safe haven. They circumambulate around it in a clockwise direction, reciting prayers and turning the large prayer wheels painted with Buddhist mantras (Mani Dungku). The number of devotees visiting the Chorten in times of holy occasions is even greater.
Jigme Namgyel, research intern