Beside the Potala Palace in Lhasa Tibet, 1300 years old and one of Tibet's holiest of shrines. The golden-roofed Jokhang Temple was built in commemoration of the marriage of Tang princess Wen Cheng to King Songsten Gampo (617 ~ 650, the 33rd king of Tibet), and houses a pure gold Buddha which was brought to Tibet by the princess. The Jokhang Temple had been restored and expanded many times from the Yuan dynasty to the Qing dynasty, until today's size. It was listed on the roll of the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 2000 as part of the Potala Palace. Covering an area of 25,100 square meters, it is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims.
Jokhang Temple is also called Qokang or Jokhang Monastery. In the old days, it was once called the Rasa Tulnang Tsuklakang or 'House of Wisdom' but now is commonly called Jokhang which means the 'House of Buddha'.
The history of the Jokhang Temple can be dated back to the Tang dynasty. It was initially built by King Songsten Gampo probably in 642. At that time, both Wencheng and Bhrituti, the Tang and Nepalese wives of Songsten Gampo brought important Buddhist statues and images to Tibet as part of their dowries. To house the statues and images brought by Princess Wen Cheng, King Songtsem Gampo constructed the Little Jokhang. Jealous of her, Princess Burikuti asked the king to build a Jokhang for her as well. Therefore, in 647 the giant complex was put up.
Jokhang Temple has remained a key center of Buddhist pilgrimage for centuries. It was sacked several times by the Mongols, but the building survived. In the past several centuries the temple complex was expanded and now covers an area of about 25,000 square meters.
The Jokhang Temple is a huge four-storey timber complex with gilded bronze tiles. The original temple only consisted of eight shrines. After many renovations (most notably during the Yuan Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty), the complex was expanded to the current scale. Its architectural style is originally based on the Indian vihara design, and was later extended resulting in a combination of Nepalese and Tang Dynasty styles.
What to see in the Jokhang Temple
If you want to see the whole complex in a single view, which is an absolute delight, climb on to the square of the Jokhang temple, from where you will get the most amazing scenes of the temple. Here you will find two big steles, both inscribed. One stands as testimony to the alliance between kings of Tibet and Tang, and the other is a walled enclosure in front of the temple which contains some willows called the Jowo Utra ('Hair of the Jowo') and a doing or inscribed pillar erected by the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) in 1793 during a smallpox epidemic. It records the central government taught the Tibetan people how to prevent and treat this incurable disease.
In the eastern portion of the yard are rows of votive lights. These flicking lights provide a path leading all the way to the main hall. The main hall, more than 1,300 years old, is the oldest shrine of the complex. Above the main entrance, there is a Dharma Wheel (chakra) flanked by two deer. This represents the unity of all things and symbolizes Sakyamuni himself. On both sides of the passageway, paintings showing the building of the temple and renderings of the temple from the seventh century are adorned on the wall. The statue of Sakyamuni at age 12 sits in the middle of the hall. It has been gilded many times and decorated elaborately with jewels typical of Tibet, which probably is the most venerated statue in entire Tibet. Prostrate in front of the entrance along with the many pilgrims who also will be bodily prostrating in front of the Sakyamuni statue. There are also famous statues of Chenresig, Padmasambhava and King Srong-btsan Sgam-po and his two famous foreign brides, Princess Wen Cheng and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal. There are four gilded bronze tile tops crafted in the emblematical Tang style.
Travel Tips to Jokhang Temple
1. To get to the Jokhang Temple, you can take minibus and get off at Tibet People's Hospital, but you can just walk there as the temple is located in the city center of Lhasa.
2. Fee is free for Tibetan people but the other people must pay at least RMB 70.
3. One of the highlights of the Jokang Temple visit may be focus on the second-floor terrace of the main building-- every afternoon many lamas gather there and debate the Buddhist sutras, very wonderful.
4. The temple is open 9am to 6pm.
If you're planning for a Tibet tour package, consider tour lines below:
* 4 Days Tibet Essential Tour
* 4 Days Tibetan Civilization Tour
* 6 Days Mt. Everest Base Camps Experience Tour
China Fact Tours also entertains customized tour packages. Please feel free to contact us.