Locating on the Bakhor Square of the center of Lhasa city, Jokhang Temple began to build during the reign of king Songsten Gampo. The temple was built for two brides of the king, Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty(618AD – 907AD) and a princess of Nepal. Both princesses brought the precious dowries. The temple shrines the statue of Sakyamuni brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng. The reason why Lhasa has a reputation of holy land lies in the statue of Sakyamuni. After completing the building, the temple was enlarged in the following dynasties of Yuan, Ming and Qing.
Jokhang Temple is a most important site of pilgrimages in Tibet. In the temple, it is customary for pilgrims to circumambulate in a clockwise direction round the Holy of Holies wich keeps the gilded statue of Sakyamuni.
The Jokhang Temple is a wood-and-earth construction with a golden top shining under the sun. It is considered as the first sacred temple in Tibet so that many Buddhist worshipers have a pilgrim all year round. The bluestone path before the temple is left prints which were gradually formed when pilgrims make their way to the central shrine, often crawling on their hands and knees or prostrating on their bellies.
Entering the temple from front gate and circumambulating in a clockwise direction, tourists can see a courtyard whose walls are lined with hundreds of votive lamps. The colonnades and walls of corridor for pray wheels were covered in vivid Buddha murals. The whole murals in the temple can reach more than 4,400 square meters. Passing through the labyrinthine chapels, tourists will get to the main hall of the temple which shrines the Jowo Shakyamuni Buddha statue. There are also statues of Chenresig, Padmasambhava, songtsan Gambo and his two foreign wives Princess Wencheng and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal.
What tourists must see in the temple is the life-size statue of Shakyamuni. The statue was modeled after the Shakyamuni himself when he was alive. There are only three statues of the kind in the world. As Shakyamuni disagreed with the idea of personal worship and did not allow to sculpture the statue according to his image. Only three statues designed by Shakyamuni himself were sculpted during his lifetime. The first is likeness of Shakymuni at the age of eight. The second in Jokhang Temple at the age of 12 and the third statue as an adult.
Another must-see is Tang-Tubo Alliance Monument, standing on the square in front of Jokhang Temple. The monument with inscription in Chinese and Tibetan languages symbolizes the peace and humanity.
Admission Fee: 85RMB per person, free for Tibetan
Open Time: 9:00 to 18:00 (It is open for pilgrims from 8:00 to 11:30 during which tourists are not received. From 11:30 to 17:30, it is the time for tourists.)