Photo Courtesy of Laura Wespetal

The Shambhala Mountain Center, located about 65 miles south of Laramie off Highway 287, is a Buddhist retreat center that is located on 600 acres of beautiful Colorado landscape. The small, but rough-looking peaks give way to a gentle valley where the retreat center rests.  Since 1971, this retreat center has offered hundreds of programs about Buddhism on topics like meditation and yoga.  The center says that it is a place where “one of the basic truths of Buddhism—that people can be profoundly open to the wisdom of the present moment—is always readily available.”

In addition to the courses that are offered at the Shambhala Mountain Center, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya attracts a fair number of visitors, making it the perfect quick trip to make on a Saturday or Sunday, particularly if the weather is nice.  The Great Stupa is a monument that was built to make a dedication of good will, as well as commemorate the Buddha’s descent from Tushita heaven.  The Great Stupa’s formal name is Lha Bab choten, as well as The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya which Liberates Upon Seeing.”

Constructed between 1988 and 2001, the Stupa was created to bring energy into the lives of the people who come to visit it.  Stupas promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health, peace, and freedom from ignorance. Essentially, they represent what is good in the world, while also working against the negative forces in the world, such as fear, corruption, and pollution.  They are said to bring blessings to the environment, to those who build them, and to those who visit and them.

The Great Stupa provides the Laramie area a chance to see into the world of Buddhism and learn from it.  While the landscape remains familiar, visiting the Great Stupa is like transporting yourself to a level closer to Nirvana.  If you need to escape the world for an afternoon and spend time relaxing and reflecting in nature, the Great Stupa is the place to visit.  The ambience of the center and Stupa seem to exude peace and reflection—perhaps it feels a bit like the blessing that visitors are supposed to feel from visiting.

As visitors approach the Stupa, they cannot help but be fascinated by it.  The visitors climb a stairway up into the Stupa, which symbolizes the Buddha’s decent from heaven.  Inside the structure, visitors will get to see a statue of the Buddha, as well as extensive artwork, such as decorative marble floors.

The Stupa is open to visitors every day from 9am to 6pm.  There is no need to make reservations.  Simply come during open hours and walk to the Stupa.  There is also a small informational building that visitors can tour after seeing the Stupa.  Guided group tours are also available with reservations.  The Shambhala Mountain Center suggests a ten dollar donation ($8 for seniors and students) to visit the Stupa.  If you would like to enjoy lunch at the Stupa, there is a $10 charge.