The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya: A Buddhist Shrine in the Colorado Rockies

Updated on June 8, 2020
Chad Claeyssen profile image

Chad is an avid traveler who loves to share his tips and experiences to help others get the most out of their travels.

The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in Colorado
The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in Colorado

While on a weekend trip to Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, I was lucky enough to have been shown the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. The stupa is an ornate Buddhist monument on the grounds of the Shambhala Mountain Center, a 600-acre Buddhist retreat and place of learning. According to literature at the mountain center, stupas promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health, and peace.

Stupa - "A Buddhist commemorative monument usually housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha or other saintly persons." -

I had never been to a stupa before, so I was excited to explore the Shambhala Mountain Center and Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. After driving about five miles down a dirt road through the mountains, the Shambhala sign marks the entrance to the retreat. Soon after turning into the mountain center, the golden top of the impressive stupa comes into view.

"Downtown" is just a short walk from the parking area. "Downtown" is not exactly a town, but just a few buildings. There, visitors will find a meal tent (where vegan and non-vegan meals are served), a book store, and a gift shop.

The Trail to the Stupa

The stupa is a short walk, half-mile or so, from downtown. An easy dirt trail meanders through a field then into a stand of aspen trees. It follows a creek and crosses a bridge as it leads to the stupa. During our walk to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, Buddhist prayer flags waved in the breeze along the path. We spotted lots of birds, wildflowers, and a deer along the way.

A deer along the trail to The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya
A deer along the trail to The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

A small monument, which resembles a stone bird bath, stands in the middle of the path just before reaching the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. The shrine was covered with items left by travelers. We noticed a mask, jewelry, a dream catcher, change, and candles among the offerings. I've tried to do a little research into the "bird bath", but haven't figured out what it is yet.

Offerings left at the Shambala Mountain Center
Offerings left at the Shambala Mountain Center

I first took a walk around the stupa before going in. At 108 feet tall, the stupa is intricately decorated, and every detail holds special symbolism. A small cabin sits on a hill by the stupa. There you can learn about the construction of the stupa as well as what each part symbolizes.

Inside the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

Visitors to the shrine must remove their footwear before entering. I removed my shoes and placed them in one of the little cubicles outside the front door. Inside the stupa, the focal point is a huge golden statue of Buddha. Chairs and prayer pillows are arranged in a semi-circle in front of the statue. Binoculars are available to view the elaborate designs in the ceiling.

Objects are placed along the walls commemorating different people. In one area, pictures of the Dalai Lama along with a news article from the Denver Post were displayed. The article told of the Dalai Lama's visit to Denver and the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya.

Buddha Statue in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya
Buddha Statue in the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya

Back outside, on the far side of the stupa is a circle of stone benches among aspens. A wooden Torii Gate, a structure symbolizing the separation between the obscene and sacred worlds, stands in a field beyond the benches. A small parking area is located at this spot for visitors who are unable to walk the trail to the stupa.

Torii Gate and stupa at the Shambhala Mountain Center
Torii Gate and stupa at the Shambhala Mountain Center

We spent a couple of hours that day walking around the grounds, relaxing, and learning about the stupa before heading home.

The Shambhala Mountain Center website says that the area is occasionally closed to day visitors due to special programs. If you're going out of your way to visit the stupa, I definitely recommend checking first to make sure it's open.

Have you ever been to the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya? Have you been to a stupa somewhere else, perhaps in another country? Do you know what the "bird bath" is? Let me know in the comments.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Chad Claeyssen profile imageAUTHOR

      Chad Claeyssen 

      4 weeks ago from Colorado

      Thank you. I've been back to the Shambala Mountain Center a few times. It is a great setting. The place is very peaceful.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      4 weeks ago from UK

      This sounds like an interesting visit. You recount it well and the setting looks great.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)