Chortens are built in memory of eminent lamas or to pin down evil spirits. They are also built to protect a region against evil spirits at places which are potentially dangerous such as crossroads and passes as well as landslide and accident prone areas.
Bhutanese chortens are of three styles:
Huge stone chortens which are often whitewashed, are built on the model of the stupa of Boudnath in Nepal. Good examples of this style are Chendebji (Trongsa), Kurizampa (Mongar) and Chorten Kora (Trashiyangtse). Stone chortens resembling the Tibetan style are common throughout central and eastern Bhutan. They are often covered by a wooden frame.
Chortens of a purely Bhutanese tradition are primarily widespread in western Bhutan. Their outer structure is a square stone building with a red stripe at its upper level and shingle or stone-slab roofs. A chorten of the Tibetan style is sometimes erected inside that of a local type structure.
The Bhutanese style Chorten can also be found in a series of eight, called the Chorten Degye. These chortens commemorate eight great events of the life of Lord Buddha and each of them has a different shape. The selection of a site for the construction of a chortten is suggested by an astrologer; a Sogshing and the other elements of Zung are put inside the structure and a consecration ceremony is performed. The Chorten then becomes sacred and dismantling it is, therefore, a serious sin.