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Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple

A Brief Introduction to Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple, located in the center of old Lhasa City, is a Tibetan Buddhism temple and has a history of 1350 years. It is a national key cultural relics protection unit and is sovereign in the Tibetan Buddhism. In November 2000, Jokhang Temple was added to the World Heritage List as the expansion project of the Potala Palace and was listed as the world heritage. "If you did not go to see the Jokhang Temple, you would not have truly been to Lhasa", said Nyima Cering, a famous Lama of Jokhang Temple and also agreed by all the tourists.

History of Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple was built in the 7th century, which was at the height of Tubo Kingdom, to enshrine and worship Buddha statue of Mingjiuduoji, the 8-year-old Sakyamuni. That Buddha statue was brought to Jokhang Temple by Princess Chizun of Nepal when the Tubo King, Songtsen Gampo married her. After that, the temple was expanded by the following successive dynasties. By now, it has an area of more than 25,100 square meters. Remarkably, what is now enshrined is the statue of 12-year-old Sakyamuni which was brought by Princess Wencheng from the capital Chang'an of Tang Dynasty. And the 8-year-old Sakyamuni statue was moved to Ramoche Temple in the 8th century.

When Jokhang Temple was built, the earth was carried there by goats. So the original temple was called "Yang-tu-shen-bian Temple", meaning the temple was created miraculously by goats and earth. In 1409, Tsongkhapa, the founder of Gelu Sect convened the Buddhist monks of all the Buddhism sects in the temple to extol the merits and virtues of Sakyamuni and changed the temple's name to Jokhang Temple. There is also a view that its name was changed to Jokhang Temple as early as the ninth century. In Qing Dynasty, Jokhang Temple was once called Yikezhao Temple.

Architectural Features of Jokhang Temple

The Jokhang Temple is the most glorious building among the constructions of Tubo period in Tibet. It is also the oldest civil-structured construction among the buildings of Tibet. The Jokhang Temple created the style of Tibetan temples. It shows the blending construction styles of Tibet, Tang Dynasty, Nepal and India, thus becoming the typical model of the religious building in the Tibetan style.

Layout of Jokhang Temple

Layout of Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple is an existing Tibetan building in the most glorious period - Tubo Kingdom period and also the oldest civil-structured construction among the extant Tibetan buildings. It fused the architectural styles of Tibet, Tang Dynasty, Nepal and India and is the sacred temple for all the Buddhism sects.

The whole round of Sakyamuni Shrine in the center of Jokhang Temple is called "Nangkhor". The whole round of Jokhang Temple is called "Barkhor", and the streets radiating from the Jokhang Temple are called "Barkhor Streets". Centered by the Jokhang Temple, the whole round including the Potala Palace, Yaowang Mountain (Dust from the mountain is said to be able to cure illness) and Ramoche Temple is called "Linkhor". All the three rounds from inside to the out are the routes for Tibetans to hold Buddhism ceremonies.

Looking down at the Jokhang Temple Square from the golden roof of Jokhang Temple, you can see the Potala Palace in the right on distant mountain and the willows - "Princess Willow" which was said to be planted by Princess Wencheng.

The layout of Jokhang Temple is quite different from that of Han Buddhism temples: its main shrine faces the west with four floors and it is furnished by side shrines. The layout and structure represent the universe ideal pattern of Mandala in Buddhism. The main shrines in the temple are Sakyamuni Shrine, Tsongkapa Shrine, Sontzen Gampo Shrine and so on. The wooden carvings and mural paintings are magnificent and exquisite in the shrines, with a sweet breath of butter in the air and pious Tibetans paying homage to the spinning prayer wheels, forming a holy oil painting.

Legend of the Jokhang Temple

According to the legend, it was originally a lake in place of today's Jokhang Temple. Songtsen Gampo once made a promise to Princess Chizun of Nepal at the lakeside. Holding a ring and He promised that he would build Buddha halls and shrines where the ring fell. Unexpectedly, the ring fell into the lake and a light-net spread across the lake immediately. With that, a nine-storied white tower appeared in the light-net. Therefore, the vast project of building the temple by a thousand white goats began.

Status of Jokhang Temple

The Jokhang Temple is located in the center of the old city of Lhasa and there are lots of precious relics in it which are valuable for the research of the Tibetology. Its status in the heart of the Tibetans is the same as that of the Potala Palace. Therefore, the Jokhang Temple is a must-go place for the tourists to Tibet.