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Jokhang Temple

Brief / profile

With an area of 25,100 square meters, the Jokhang Temple or Jokhang Monastery is the most sacred temple as well as a pilgrimage destination in Lhasa. Moreover, listed as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this timber complex attracts numerous pilgrims and tourists every year.

Location

It stands on Barkhor Square in central Lhasa.

Function or value in the past

This temple complex was constructed to celebrate the King Songtsän Gampo’s marriage with the Princess Wencheng in the Tang Dynasty and house to Buddha statue brought by the princess.

History
During the Tang Dynasty, the 33rd king of Tibet Songtsän Gampo married the Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty in order to promote friendly relationship. When she arrived in Tibet, she brought a statue of Jowo Sakyamuni. Since Tibetans lived in tents at that time, thus in 746 AD, the king ordered to build the Jokhang Temple. There were only 8 shrines in the original architecture. However, the temple has been renovated over years mostly under the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama.
Finally, it takes on today’s appearance.

Architecture / Structure / Each scenery.

The Jokhang Temple is a 4-story architectural complex with a golden roof. It took advantage of the architectural style of the Tang Dynasty, Tibetan style as well as the Nepalese style, making it much more attractive.
You will get a panoramic view of the Jokhang Temple in its square. There’re 2 steles in the square: one records the alliance between the Tibetan King and the Tang’s Emperor while the other one is the teaching of the Tibetan people to take precaution against smallpox which was once a fatal disease in the area.
In the temple, the main hall with a history of more than 1,300 years is the oldest shrine. There’s a Dharma Wheel with 2 deer on its 2 sides is just above the main entrance. The wall along the passageway is decorated with paintings and renderings. In addition, the statue of Sakyamuni at 8 stands in the middle of the hall. It’s a rare treasure. On the 2nd floor lie the statues of King Songtsän Gampo, Princess Wencheng as well as Princess Bhrikuti. 4 bronze-glided tile roofs with the Tang style are on the top floor.

Legend and Story

Since the temple was built on a lake, thus there’s a legend on this lake. It goes like this: before the lake was chosen as the construction site, every time a temple was built in the region, it would collapse. Confused by this, the king’s another wife Bhrikuti sought help from the learned Wencheng. The Princess Wencheng told her: the landform of Tibet was just like a hag and the lake was in the center. She advised to ruin the hag by filling the lake by using 1,000 sheep to transmit soil from a distant mountain. The temple was named Ra-Sa-VAphrul-Snang (ra meant sheep and sa meant earth in Tibetan) after its completion to honor those sheep.

Transportation.
Since it’s just in the downtown area of Lhasa, thus you can get there on foot.

Admission fee.

The admission fee for the Jokhang Temple is RMB 75.

Note

It’s open to the public from 9:00 to 18:00 and the suggested time for a visit here is about 2 hours. Tourists are allowed to visit the temple in the afternoon since it’s reserved for pilgrims in the morning.