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Ramoche Temple

A Brief Introduction to Ramoche Temple

The Ramoche Temple is located 500 meters north from the Jokhang Temple and in the northwest of the Tibetan capital-Lhasa. It is the key cultural relic protection unit of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Ramoche Temple was built in the Tang Dynasty which was in the same period with the Jokhang Temple. It covers an area of 4,000 square meters.

Legend of the Ramoche Temple

As to the construction of the Ramoche Temple, there is a famous legend. It is said that when the Princess of the Tang Dynasty-Wencheng was about to marry Songsten Gampo in 641, she asked her father-the emperor Daizong of Tang Dynasty to send her a statue of the Sakyamuni as the dowry. Emperor Daizong agreed. So Princess Wencheng went to Tibet taking the statue of 12 years old Sakyamuni with her.

When she passed the site of today's Ramoche Temple, her wooden vehicle was stuck in the sandy land. Therefore, Princess Wencheng decided to enshrine the statue of this Sakyamuni in this place and then she built the Ramoche Temple.

History of the Ramoche Temple

In 641 A.D, the Princess Wencheng of Tang Dynasty in Chang'an got married with Songsten Gampo-the leader of the Tubo Kingdom in Tibet. She brought a statue of the 12 years old Sakyamuni and some Han craftsmen with her. She missed her home in Chang'an very much and was at first not adaptive to the life in Tibet. So she ordered the craftsmen to build the Ramoche Temple in Han style. The temple faced east-the direction of her home Chang'an, thus expressing her homesickness. And the statue of the 12 years old Sakyamuni was enshrined in the Ramoche Temple.

Later, the leader of Tubo was concerned with rumors that Tang emperor was considering to invade Tibet. To protect the statue, Princess Wencheng hid the statue of the 12 years old Sakyamuni in a secret chamber of the Jokhang Temple.

In 712, after the Princess Jincheng of Tang Dynasty was married to another leader of the Tubo regime, she moved the statue of 12 years old Sakyamuni to the central hall of the Jokhang Temple. On the other hand, the statue of the 8 years old Sakyamuni-a small bronze statue brought to Tibet by the Nepalese princess-Bhrikuti, was enshrined in the Rachome Temple.

During the Mongol invasions, the Ramoche Temple was badly damaged by fire and the present building in the temple was actually constructed in 1474. Soon after that, the Ramoche Temple became the Assembly Hall of the Gyuto Tratsang or upper Tantric College of Lhasa and was home to 500 monks.

Attractions in the Ramoche Temple

The Ramoche Temple went through several fires and has been restored many times. After the major restoration of 1986, the main building in the Ramoche Temple now has three stories.

The first story includes an atrium, a scripture hall, and a Buddha palace with winding corridors. On the right of the atrium is a room for restoring the musical instruments used in a Buddhist mass, and on the left of the atrium is a side hall. There are four columns with exquisite engravings of the pattern of lotus flowers, coiling cloud, dragons and lions in the middle of the atrium. Behind the atrium is the scripture hall which is three rooms wide and seven rooms long with 30 columns. In the hindmost of the first floor is the Buddha palace covering an area of 23.5 square meters with two columns. In this palace enshrined the statues and clay figures brought by the Nepalese princess-Bhrikuti.

The second floor is mainly residential with a patio. Behind the patio is a hall with an image of Buddha as King of the Nagas.

The third story of the Ramoche Temple contained the bedroom once reserved for Dalai Lama There are altogether 6 rooms on the third story for Dalai Lamas. Behind these rooms is the Jinding (golden roof) Palace with the gate facing the east, covering an area of 54.5 square meters. The Jinding (golden roof) Palace is with a typical Han-style roof and typical Tibetan-style murals and columns, reflecting the perfect combination of Han and Tibetan architectural styles.

Cultural Relics in the Ramoche Temple

Entering the main building, visitors can see the ten large fluted pillars holding some of the remaining Tibetan relics such as the encased lotus flowers, coiling cloud, jewelry, and particular Tibetan Characters. One of the precious relics is the a bronze Bodhisattva which is 1.32 meters high dressed with coronet, and its foundation is 0.68 meter high. Another bronze statue is a Padmasambhava with a height of 1.55 meters dressed in cassock, sitting on a lotus throne. Its foundation is 0.03 meter high and 0.14 meter wide. The bronze statue of a maid is also very famous with a height of 1.33 meters, holding a vase. Its foundation is 0.17 meter high in the shape of semi-circle. Of course, the most famous relic is the statue of the 8 years old Sakyamuni.