Jokhang Temple in Tibet

The Jokhang

The Jokhang by Gilda. Sourced via Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

The Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka are three famous sites in the city of Lhasa, Tibet, China. They are, together, inscribed as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. Of the three, the Potala Palace has become the iconic image of Tibet. The extreme remoteness of Lhasa creates even more mystic for those courageous enough to brave the altitude sickness that frequents visitors to this Himalayan sanctuary.

The Jokhang Temple (ཇོ་ཁང་, Jo-khang; 大昭寺, Dàzhāosì) in Lhasa, Tibet is inscribed on the same UNESCO world heritage site listing as the Potala Palace. The temple is located beside Barkhor Square. It dates to the sometime around 642, during the reign of king Songsten Gampo (between 605 and 650 AD). He built it to celebrate his marriage with the princes Wencheng who came from Tang Dynasty China and was a Buddhist. At this time, Tibet was in it's Bon period and had not yet converted fully to Buddhism. The temple, at that time was known as the Tsuklakang (or Tsulag Khang) which translates as, "The House of religious Science" or "House of Wisdom." The world "tsuklak" refers to the practices of geomancy, astrology and divination which form the pre-buddhist Tibetan religion of Bon. The Jokhang is the most important and sacred temple in Tibet. Although it is supposed to be non sectarian, the temple is currently controlled by the Gelug school of Buddhism.

Jokhang temple covers an area of 25,000 square metres. It is a four story building. The architecture is based on the vihara design from India. Later additions added architectural influences from Nepal and Tang Dynasty China. On the roof top there are two golden statues of deer on either side of a Dharma prayer wheel. The interior contains many chapels and shrines to various deities and bodhisattvas.

Map showing location of Jokhang Temple in Tibet

Above: Location of Jokhang Temple in Tibet in Lhasa, Tibet, China