After arriving in Thimphu on my first day in Bhutan, and after my first Bhutanese food, we headed to the National Memorial Chorten for an introduction to Bhutanese Buddhism. As we got close to the entrance, we noticed a crowd on the other side of the road, and my guide told me that one of the religious teachers, Dungse Rinpoche, was about to arrive. In fact, when we got to the road, his car just whizzed by, people worshipping the car and the master inside, of whom I could only see his arm stretching out of an opened window. I would see him in person a few days later, in totally different circumstances on Shertang La mountain pass in central Bhutan.
As the master continued, we returned to the entrance of the National Memorial Chorten. Most of the people we had just seen worshipping the revered religious leader entered the Buddhist landmark with us. Right at the entrance, we saw a line of giant prayer wheels, and mostly women keeping the prayer wheels in motion by walking around them, and setting them in motion by pushing the wooden handles underneath the robust cylindrical drums. The prayer written in large Bhutanese characters on the sides of the prayer wheel were being dispersed in the air as we continued to the chorten itself.
The third king of Bhutan wished to have a monument for world peace erected, but did not live to see the National Memorial Chorten as he died in the early 1970s. Within two years after he died, the chorten was consecrated and ever since, has been a place for worship for many Bhutanese. Once inside, your eyes immediately catch the gold-spired white-washed chorten, its small bells tingling in the air. I followed the crowd to the chorten, and at the base of the chorten, turned left with the rest to walk around it in a clockwise direction. Unlike the crowd, I stopped often, to watch, to look, to soak in the atmosphere. This was my first real impression of the country, and its people, and it was a peaceful one - one that was to be confirmed during the rest of my stay.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from National Memorial Chorten (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to National Memorial Chorten.
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