High up in the hills overlooking Thimphu, dawn light glints off the Buddha Dordenma's golden face as he gazes into the rising sun. Depicting Buddha at the moment of his enlightenment, sitting in bhumisparsha mudra with five fingers extended to touch the earth, the 51-metre (169-feet) tall statue is visible from across Bhutan's capital city.
The statue was cast in bronze in China and transported by sea and road to this site once occupied by the palace of Druk Desi, a secular ruler of Bhutan in the eighteenth-century. At its completion, the statue will contain 125,000 gilded Buddha statues and a wealth of other statuary.
In addition to celebrating the centenary anniversary of the Wangchuck dynasty, the statue fulfills a twelve-hundred year-old prophesy made by Guru Rinpoche that a Buddha image would be built at this dramatic site.