Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple

This 1,300 year old temple is at the heart of old Lhasa as well as being the spiritual heart of Tibet as a whole. The golden Buddha within is the most revered in the country – pilgrims cram themselves into the thick, yak-butter candle lit interior to worship it, and a number of other sacred pieces. A visit inside is like nothing you have ever experienced before – the reverence in the air almost palpable. The temple is named for the ‘Jowa Sakyamuni’, a golden Buddha image, brought to Tibet by King Songtsen Gampo’s Chinese wife, Princess Wencheng. Jokhang means ‘chapel of Jowo’.

Circling the Jokhang is its ‘kora’ (pilgrimage circuit) the Barkhor. There is no better place in the city to people watch, with pilgrims from across Tibet arriving and following the route clockwise to worship in the Jokhang. Some spin handheld prayer wheels whilst others prostrate themselves the whole way round, all totally devoted to their worship. This is the place in Lhasa that you get the strongest sense of the country’s history, and the place you’ll want to return to again and again.

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Seven Facts About Jokhang Temple

The oldest part of the Jokhang was built in the year 652 – it is believed to have been built to house two holy statues brought to Lhasa by King Songtsen Gampo’s two brides.

The Jowo Sakyamuni is a life size (5 foot) bejewelled statue of Buddha as a young prince.

From the roof of the Jokhang there are excellent views over the city.

The Jokhang has a significant collection of cultural artefacts including sculptures from the Tang and Ming dynasties.

Legend tells that the Jokhang is constructed over the heart of a great sleeping demoness – it and a network of 12 other temples keep her subdued.

The name ‘Lhasa’ is said to be derived from ‘Rasa’ which comes from the Jokhang’s ancient name ‘Rasa Thrulnag Tsuklakang’.

The temples architecture is a combination of influences including Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan.


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