An important historical landmark in Thimphu city is the National Memorial chorten. It was initially constructed by the revered Dungse Rinpoche at the behest of the late Royal Grandmother Ashi Phuntsho Chhodron in 1974, in memory of her son the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who died in 1972. The Chhorten has great significance in the religious life of the people and symbolizes the levels of the Buddha’s mind and teachings. Every day, tourists and hundreds of native people are seen ritually circumambulating the chorten clockwise to gain merit for the next life and atone for their present sins.
The Memorial chorten contains three chapels representing the main spiritual themes of the Nyingmapa school, preached by Guru Rinpoche and rediscovered by the great Lamas, Phurba, Kagye, and Lama Gondu. Accordingly, the three stories contain enormous three-dimensional Mandalas of meditational deities. The painting and sculpture are of excellent quality and reflect the devout faith of the Bhutanese people in God and Buddhism.
Occasionally, a religious ceremony is performed here, where people gather to offer fragrant incense, butter for the lamps, and white scarves (Khadars) to receive blessings from venerated Lamas. The Chhorten has undergone a major renovation after 33 years of its erection. Covering an area of approximately 14,000 sq meters, a bigger prayer hall behind the Thimphu Memorial Chhorten has been built for religious ceremonies along with two bigger butter lamp rooms.