A Chörten (mchod rten), stūpa in Sanskrit, is a three-dimensional symbolic representation of the Enlightened Mind of the Buddha. It often functions as a reliquary.

There are three stupas at Merigar. The first to be constructed was the Small Stupa of Enlightenment, in 1983. Later, in 1998, the Great Stupa of Enlightenment was built, and in 2016 a third stupa was erected. Made of Carrara marble, it is designed in the Complete Victory style.

Since 3 October 2018, the Great Stupa of Enlightenment contains the bodily remains of the Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.

The stupa is a ubiquitous symbol of Buddhism, occurring in every country where Buddhism has been practiced, and in many stylistic variations, from the burial tumulus of Sanchi (third to first centuries B.C.) in India, to the stupa-mandala of Borobodur in Java, the stupas of Swayambhu and Bodhanath (known as Jarungkashor in the Kathmandu valley), to Samye (bsam yas) in Tibet. Originally, stupas were built to enshrine the relics of the Buddha and his most important disciples.

The Mahaparinirvana Sutra tells us that it was the Buddha himself who outlined the basic design of the stupa. The story begins at Buddha’s deathbed. When he realized that death was imminent, Buddha gave instructions about the disposition of his body. He said that his body should be cremated and the relics divided up and enclosed in different monuments. His relics were enshrined and worshipped in stupas by the royals of eight countries where the Buddha lived. Buddhist sources report that in the third century B.C. Emperor Maurya Ashoka ordered that the stupas be reopened and that the relices be divided among 84,000 new stupas that he had constructed.


The Small Stupa of Enlightenment was constructed at Merigar in 1983. It is in the vicinity of the Yellow House.

The Eight Types of Stupas


  1. The Lotus Blossom Stupa of the Buddha's Birth (sku bltams mchod rten)
  2. The Enlightenment Stupa (byang chub mchod rten)
  3. The Stupa of Turning the Wheel of Dharma (chos 'khor mchod rten)
  4. The Great Miracle Stupa (cho 'phrul gyi mchod rten)
  5.  The Stupa of the Descent from Tushita Heaven (lha bab mchod rten)
  6. The Stupa of Reconciliation (dbyen bsdum mchod rten)
  7. The Stupa of Complete Victory (rnam rgyal mchod rten)
  8. The Parinirvana Stupa (myang 'das mchod rten)


The Great Stupa of Enlightenment is located in a secluded position near a grove. It was inaugurated in 1998.

Read its history


Located on a small hill near the Temple of the Great Contemplation, the Stupa of Blazing Splendor (Palbar Chörten) was built in 2016 in the Complete Victory style. What makes this stupa unique, aside from the precious relics it contains, is that it is made of Carrara marble, renowned for its quality as a building material because it has the capacity to remain intact for centuries.

Stupas can be seen as an expression of the five elements.

    • Earth, which spreads out in the four directions, provides the solid basis.
    • The dome is the garbha (“womb”), primordial, creative Water – formless potentiality. It is also called the anda, or egg.
    • The conical spire is Fire, which always rises upwards. It represents the wisdom that burns away ignorance.
    • The crescent moon is Air, expansive, waxing, and waning (an ancient symbol of the feminine principal).
    • The circle is Space, wholeness, totality, with no end or beginning.
    • Finally, above the circle is a jewel, which represents a higher state of reality, gone beyond the five elements. It is the ushnisha, present on the crowns of all Buddhas, revealing their perfect, enlightened state. This ascent to perfection is laid out with precision in an Enlightenment Stupa.

The entire stupa represents the ultimate qualities of the Buddha’s mind and is therefore a very precious and sacred object. Making offerings, prostrations, and circumambulating a stupa, as well as offering donations to help build a stupa, are said to create huge amounts of virtue or merit to support one's spiritual practice and become a cause for the quick attainment of enlightenment.

Ten Traditional Purposes of Stupas:

    1. To remind one of a teacher
    2. To act as a reliquary, which contains the relics of a teacher and embodies the enlightened mind, and to serve as the focal point for the continuation of the buddha-activity of a teacher
    3. To magnetize enlightened energy
    4. To speed a teacher’s rebirth
    5. To promote longevity
    6. To create peace and harmony in society
    7. To magnetize wealth
    8. To turn back invading armies
    9. To pacify physical and mental illness, pestilence, and disease
    10. To actualize enlightenment