ATOP A HILL IN THIMPHU, the capital and largest city of Bhutan, is a massive, golden Buddha sitting atop a gilded meditation hall. But the monument holds an invisible secret: Unbeknownst to many people viewing the statue, they aren’t actually looking at one Buddha, they’re looking at 125,000 of them.
Inside of Thimphu’s 169 foot Buddha Dordenma statue, there are 125,000 miniature Buddhas encapsulated inside of its enlightened bronze chest, ranging from 8 to 12 inches tall. This means that in Thimphu, which has a population of around 100,000, there are more Buddhas than there are human beings.
Like the large Buddha, these thousands of miniature Buddhas are also gilded and made of bronze, a major reason that the statue cost almost $100 million to build when it was constructed in 2015 to honor the 60th birthday of Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth king of Bhutan.
The statue also fulfils two prophecies. The first, foreseen by yogi Sonam Sangpo, is that a Buddhist statue would be built in the region to “bestow blessings, peace, and happiness to the whole world.” In addition, the statue is said to have been mentioned by Guru Padmasambhava, widely referred to as the “second Buddha,” in the eighth century. This statue kills two birds with one stone by fulfilling both prophecies in glimmering fashion.