Great Stupa of Dharmakaya - Atlas Obscura

Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

One of the largest Buddhist stupas in North America is built of concrete designed to last 1,000 years. 


The United States might not be known as a global hub of Buddhist architecture, but that doesn’t mean that the U.S. doesn’t have its fair share of beautiful symbols of peace. One of the most lovely, and possibly the largest of them is Colorado’s Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. 

The giant stupa, located in the Shambala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado might be a tranquil memorial today, but its construction was anything but smooth. Construction on the stupa began in 1988 after the death of Buddhist meditation master Chögyam Trungpa, who had founded the Mountain Center. The monument was meant as both a memorial for the teacher and as a symbol of global peace. However, the stupa was not actually completed until 13 years later, when it was finally consecrated in 2001.

Now that it is finished, the towering stupa stands 108 feet tall, and it is said to have been built with a special concrete mix that is meant to last for a thousand years. The interior of the monument contains three levels, and unlike most stupas, which are generally sealed, the Great Stupa is open, although only the first level is accessible by the public. The entire structure is covered in symbolic flourishes and statuary, including a large golden Buddha statue in the center, and a spire made of 13 discs representing levels of enlightenment.

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is the crown jewel of the Drala Mountain Center, and an inspiring symbol of peace. Whether you are visiting to remember Trungpa and his teachings or just to find some peace, there are fewer finer places in all of America than the Great Stupa.

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