Locating on the Bakhor Square of the center of Lhasa city, Jokhang Temple was begun during the reign of king Songsten Gampo. The temple was built for two brides of the king, Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty (618 AD – 907 CE) and a princess of Nepal. Both princesses brought precious dowries. The temple enshrines the statue of Sakyamuni (the Buddha) 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 during the following dynasties of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing.
Jokhang Temple is a most important site of pilgrimages in Tibet. In the temple, it is customary for pilgrims to walk around in a clockwise direction round the Holy of Holies which 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 the first sacred temple in Tibet, so many Buddhist worshipers make pilgrimages to the temple throughout the year. The blue stone path before the temple is left with footprints which were gradually formed as pilgrims made their way to the central shrine, often crawling on their hands and knees or prostrating on their stomachs.
Entering the temple from front gate and proceeding in a clockwise direction, tourists can see a courtyard whose walls are lined with hundreds of votive lamps. The colonnades and walls of the corridor are 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 enshrines 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 most often 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 this kind in the world. As Shakyamuni disagreed with the idea of people worshiping him, he did not allow to sculpture to be made according to his image. Only three statues designed by Shakyamuni himself were sculpted during his lifetime. The first is the 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 common humanity shared by the Chinese and Tibetan people.
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.)