Jokhang Temple is
the spiritual center of Tibet. Everyday
pilgrims from every corner of Tibet
trek a long distance to the temple.
Some of them even progress prostrate
by body length to the threshold of
the temple. Pilgrims fuel myriad of
flickering butter lamps with yak butter,
or honor their deities with white
scarves (Kha-btags or Hada) while
murmuring sacred mantras to show their
pieties to the Buddha.
It lies at the center
of the old Lhasa. Built in 647 by
Songtsen Gampo and his two foreign
wives, it has a history of more than
1,300. It was said that Nepal Princess
Tritsun decided to build a temple
to house the Jowo Sakyamuni aged 12
brought by Chinese Princess Wencheng.
Princess Wencheng reckoned according
to Chinese astrology that the temple
should be built on the pool where
the Jokhang now locates. She contended
that the pool was a witch's heart,
so the temple should be built on the
pool to get rid of evils. The pool
still exists under the temple. Then
goats were used as the main pack animals,
as is the reason the city is called
Lhasa. The construction took 12 months.
However it was originally small and
had been expanded to today's scale
in later dynasties. When the Fifth
Dalai Lama took reign, large-scale
reconstruction and renovation had
been done. The temple is a combination
of Han, Tibetan and Nepalese architectural
techniques. Visitors will see sphinx
and other weird and sacred sculptures.
The temple keeps many
invaluable cultural relics. The most
famous and valuable one is the Jowo
Sakyamuni aged 12, which is circumambulated
by thousands of pilgrims day and night.
On his sides, there are altars of
Songtsen Gampo and his two wives who
introduced Buddhism into Tibet. The
murals in the main hall are also worth
seeing, depicting the procession of
Princess Wencheng arriving in Tibet
and the building of the Jokhang Temple
while other murals tell Jataka stories.
Two thangkas imaging Yamantaka and
Chakrasamvara from the Ming dynasty
(1368-1644) still remain in perfect
condition. The gold bumpa (a vase)
upon which the reincarnations of Dalai
Lama and Panchen Lama are decided,
musical instruments brought into Tibet
by Wencheng and other important stuffs
are also kept here.
Every year, the Great
Prayer Festival will be held in the
Temple. The rites of Dalai Lamas and
Panchen Lamas' initiation into lamahood
are also held in the monastery.