About The National Memorial Chorten
Built in the memory of the third Druk Gyalpo (Head of Kingdom) of Bhutan, the National Memorial Chorten is devoted to World Peace. The Chorten started gaining popularity amongst the localites when various major Buddhist religious festivals started taking place at the Chorten. The word “Chorten” literally translates to “Seat of Faith”, and the structure itself has become an important part of the Bhutanese culture. You can spot various Buddhists circumambulating around the Chorten all throughout the day. The Memorial also attracts a lot of tourists from around the world due to its architectural and deep connection with Bhutan’s rich culture.
Situated well within the capital city Thimphu. the Stupa was initially built in the year 1974 and thereafter, witnessed a massive renovation in the year 2008. The Chorten is also famous as the “most visible religious structure of Bhutan.”
Unlike other traditional Stupas, this monument does not enshrine any of the human remains. It holds only one photo of Druk Gyalpo in traditional Bhutanese dress in the massive hall on the ground floor.
How to Reach The National Memorial Chorten
-By Bus: There are some bus services that connect Paro and Thimphu however, there are no regular bus services, therefore, it must be pre-planned.
-By Rail: There is no rail service available anywhere in Bhutan as of now.
-By Road: You can direct taxi from Paro International Airport to National Memorial Chorten Thimphu which should take 1.5 hours max. to reach.
The best way to travel from Paro International Airport to Thimphu is via Taxi as the distance is not much and the fares are also not that high.
Best Time to Visit The National Memorial Chorten
Thimphu experiences a varied range of temperatures throughout the year, Spring and Autumn are considered to be the best seasons to visit the city. Here is a brief description of the seasons to pick the best one for you:
-Spring: During the months of March to May, the flowers are at full bloom and nature at its best. The temperatures range from 7 to 18 degrees Celcius. The perfect season to experience Thimphu.
-Summer: The temperatures range from 10 to 22 degrees Celcius with mild rain showers. Not the best time to visit Thimphu.
-Autumn: The temperatures during this period range from 4 to 20 degrees Celcius. It is one of the best seasons to visit Thimphu. The weather remains cool and calm with clear skies.
-Winters: Winters in Thimphu are quite extreme with temperatures dropping down up to -10 degrees Celcius. It is advisable to avoid visiting during this season if you do not embrace cold temperatures.
What Not to Miss at The National Memorial Chorten
Apart from the National Memorial Chorten, Thimphu is home to a whole lot of other tourist attractions. Some of the must visit places and things to do near the Chorten are as mentioned below:
1. Visit the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory: Bhutanese paper is made from the local trees of Daphne and Dhepak. This very factory still uses age-old methods of preparing the paper. Visitors are given a brief tour of the factory alongside explaining the manufacturing process. Visitors can also try their hands in the art of papermaking if they desire so.
2. Attend a Concert at the Clock Tower Square: The Clock Tower Square is situated in the very centre of the city. Most of the concerts in Bhutan are held at this very place. If you get lucky enough, you may even get a chance to catch a live concert by the local Bhutanese artists at this beautiful place.
3. Visit the Dochula Pass: If you are looking around for some adventure, head towards an uphill drive of 23 kilometres from the National Memorial Chorten to Dochula Pass. This place provides a mesmerizing view of the valley upfront. It also houses the 108 chortens that were constructed as a tribute to Bhutanese soldiers who lost their lives, fighting with the Indian insurgents in the year 2003.
4. Visit Trashi Chho Dzong: This popular fort serves as the venue of the most popular festival in Bhutan, Tsechu. This very fort has the secretariat of Bhutan, offices of the king as well as the “Throne Room” situated within the complex. This place provides a great insight into the past of Bhutan and also stands as one of the most important architectural treasures of Bhutan.
5. Changangkha Lhakhang: Built in the 12th Century, it is one of the most popular Buddhist temples in Bhutan. It is famous for parents from all around Bhutan visiting this very place to receive blessings for their newborns. Also, it is amongst one of the most visited tourist places in the whole of Bhutan.
6. Visit the National Library of Bhutan: National Library of Bhutan is a must-visit for anyone going to Thimphu. The library was built in 1967 in traditional Bhutanese architecture. This is one of the best places to learn about Bhutanese culture as well as its history. Most of the books there are in hand made paper wrapped around in wooden cases or silk, providing it with a traditional Bhutanese twist.
7. Shop at the Weekend Market: Certainly, one of the most fun things to do in Thimphu is to explore its weekend market. Apart from enjoying the local delicacies of Bhutan, you can indulge in shopping through the local produce of Bhutan such as dried fish, homemade cheese, incense sticks, saffron, wild honey, and much more.
Other Essential Information About The National Memorial Chorten
-Location: The National Memorial Chorten is situated on the Deoboom Lam in the central part of the city of Thimphu, near the main roundabout and the Indian Military Hospital.
-Opening Hours: 9:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M (All 7 days of the week)
-Entry Fee: Apart from those paying a daily minimum package rate of $200/$250 shall be charge Nu. 300/Adult and Nu. 150/Student. Entry to kids below 5 years of age is free of cost. Those paying for a minimum daily package shall have to show their visa clearance at the entry of the Chorten.
-Best Time: The best time to visit the Chorten in during the early hours of the day, before the sun strikes up un on your head.
-Distance from Nearest Airport: The Nearest Airport from the National Memorial Chorten is the Paro International Airport which is 52 kilometers away.
History of the National Memorial Chorten
The National Memorial Chorten was constructed in the memory of the 3rd Druk Gyalpo (head of the Kingdom of Bhutan), Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who passed away in 1972. The idea behind the construction of the memorial was put forward by Thinley Norbu. Norbu was a significant teacher in the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Phuntsho Choten, mother of Jigme Dorji, was the primary patron behind the construction of this beautiful structure.
The monument was built in 1974 and turned out to be one of the biggest and the most significant religious structures in the whole of Bhutan. It allows a peek into the philosophies of the Buddhist Kingdom. The Moenlam Prayer Festival, the most important religious festival of Bhutan, also takes place in this very monument. The religious head of Bhutan, Je Khenpo, addresses the festival which is attended by people from all over Bhutan.
The architecture of The National Memorial Chorten:
The Memorial has been designed in a Tibetan style Chorten which replicates the design of a traditional stupa with an addition of a pyramidical pillar crowned by a sun and a crescent moon. It also perfectly exemplifies Bhutanese and Buddhist architecture and artwork with its astonishing paintings and intricate artwork throughout the complex.
The Chorten is a huge white structure with a golden spire at the top and a smaller spire at the top of the front porch. The front porch of the monument is approached through a small beautiful garden and a Tibetan style gate decorated with 3 slate carvings. The interiors of the Chorten are decorated with carved annexures and contain statues, mandalas, and a shrine dedicated to Druk Gyalpo.
Facts about the National Memorial Chorten:
1. National Memorial Chorten is the only stupa in Bhutan which does not contain the remains of any religious leader or a king.
2. The memorial of Tantric Buddhism is located in the topmost room of the Memorial Chorten.
3. It is also known as the “most visible religious monument” in the whole of Bhutan.
4. It is one of the most important landmarks of the city, given its huge golden spire and the golden bells.
5. From the Ground floor, staircases lead to two more floors within the Memorial Chorten and each of the floors has 4 shrines.