Bhutan # 12 : In Thimphu

Our further exploration of Thimphu took us to the The National Memorial Choeten before going into the busy shopping centre where there is a ‘dancing policeman’ instead of traffic lights. We then drove up onto a hill where a huge, golden statue of Buddha, the Buddha Dordenma, is being built.


P1000632  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000632 © DY of jtdytravels

The National Memorial Choeten was built in 1974 by Her Majesty Queen Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck in memory of her son, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.  It stands in the centre of Thimphu.  The day before our visit, an important commemoration took place and workers were still cleaning up after the event.  It was very wet.


P1000636  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000636 © DY of jtdytravels


The choeten was decorated with new hangings, maybe made by the students in the Zorig Chusun School of Traditional Arts.


P1000641  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Brooms, switches, shovels and rubbish bins being used in the clean-up after the festivities of the day before.


P1000634   ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000634 © DY of jtdytravels

This old man with his trusty prayer wheel was circu-ambulating the choeten – always in a clockwise direction.


P1000638  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000638 © DY of jtdytravels

Bamboo scaffolding surrounded this new building in downtown Thimphu.


P1000699  ©  DY of jtdytravels

P1000699 © DY of jtdytravels

One of the main streets of Thimphu busy with motor traffic and people – a bit like any other city except for the architectural style.


P1000703  ©  DY  of jtdytravels

P1000703 © DY of jtdytravels

The Dancing Policeman on duty in his pill box in the centre of the main intersection in Thimphu.  He was replaced a few years ago by a set of traffic lights but the people of Thimphu didn’t like the change, so in keeping with the country’s Gross National Happiness principles, he was re-instated.  Thimphu remains the only capital city in the world without traffic lights.


P1000767  ©  DY  of  jtdtravels

P1000767 © DY of jtdtravels

Tashichhodzong, Thimphu Dzong, is located on the northern edge of Thimphu.  It is a fortress, a Buddhist monastery and the headquarters of the clergy, the seat of government since 1952 and also contains the Throne of the King.


P1000822  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000822 © DY of jtdytravels

Thimphu stretches along the valley of the Wang Chhu.  This view of Thimphu is taken from the site where the Buddha Dordenma is being built.


P1000883  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000883 © DY of jtdytravels

Under construction on a hill above Thimphu is the huge golden ‘Buddha Dordenma’, made of bronze and gilded in gold. At 169 feet or 51.5 meters in height, it’s one of the largest Buddha rupas  in the world. And it’s not just one Buddha!  Inside this statue will be placed  more than one hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, each of which will also be made of bronze and gilded in gold. The throne the Buddha sites on will incorporate a large meditation hall. In that hall every sponsor will be named.  And the cost of this amazing Buddha? Somewhere in the region of US$100 million. This seems a staggering amount to those of us who are not Buddhists but this is a country of devout Buddha followers and for them this is a symbol of hope for peace and happiness in all the world. That, in a country that measures “Gross National Happiness” rather than the usual GDP, is understandable.  The Bhutanese have a very different mind set, one that we can all do well to learn from. Perhaps this Buddha will indeed be a symbol of the need for peace in our strife ridden world.


P1000827  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000827 © DY of jtdytravels

The project to build this huge Buddha is, in the words of the organisation building the site, hoped to help Bhutanese obtain empowerment as they supplicate the Buddhas to: “purify our body, speech, and mind; dissolve into our purified body, speech, and mind; and remain in us for infinite time and become the same. Likened to the nourishing rain water, empowerment enables the inherent Buddha seeds in our subconsciousness to grow, ripen, and attain realization faster and more easily through our practice of the corresponding Buddha deities.”


P1000826  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

P1000826 © DY of jtdytravels

This Golden Buddha is dedicated to world peace and happiness.  May it be so!


We had just one more day in and around Thimphu.

More of that anon.


Photography copyright ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

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