China Travel Guide

Jokhang Temple

Roof detail of Fierce creature
Roof detail of
Fierce creature

The constant bustle, gaudy paraphernalia of worship, flickering butter lamps, and wreaths of heady incense make the Jokhang Temple one of Tibet's most memorable experiences. The Jokhang was founded in AD 639 to house an image of the Buddha brought as dowry by the Nepali Princess Bhrikuti on her marriage to King Songtsen Gampo. Its location was chosen by another wife of the king, the Chinese consort Princess Wencheng. She declared that a giant female demon slumbered beneath the site and a temple must be built over her heart to subdue her. After the king's death, Wencheng's own dowry image of Jowo Sakyamuni was moved from the Ramoche to the Jokhang, where it was thought to be safer from invading forces.

Jokhang Temple

Visitors' checklist

  • The Barkhor, Lhasa
  • 9am–6pm daily. Visit from left to right clockwise
  • Inner Chapels: 8am–noon
  • Monlam, during the first lunar month

Chapel of Chenresig
A large statue of Chenresig, the Bodhisattva of compassion, dominates this room. The doors and frames, crafted by Nepalis in the 7th century, are among the few remains of the original temple.

Prostrating pilgrim
Prostrating pilgrim

Chapel of Jowo Sakyamuni
Pilgrims crowd around this impassive statue of the 12-year-old Sakyamuni to make offerings and pray. Part of Princess Wencheng's dowry, it is the most revered image in Tibet.

Prayer Wheels
Pilgrims spin the wheels on a route that surrounds the inner chapel called the Nangkor, one of the three sacred circuits of Lhasa.

Roof ornament
The spokes of the wheel of law represent the eight paths to enlightenment.

This open courtyard, or dukhang, is the focus for ceremonies during festivals. The long altar holding hundreds of butter lamps marks the entrance to the interior.

Prostrating pilgrim
The Jokhang is Tibet's most venerated site. Pilgrims bow and pray on the flagstones just outside the temple doors.

Please click here to read more information about the Jokhang Temple, Tibet.

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China Tours including trips to Lhasa, Tibet