The Jokhang Temple, home of the most venerated statue in Tibet.The Jokhang, also called the Qokang,Jokang, Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery or Tsuklakang, is the first Buddhist temple in Tibet, located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. It was built during the reign of king Songsten Gampo (605?-650 CE) to celebrate his marriage with Chinese Tang Dynasty princess Wencheng, who was a Buddhist. The temple was called the Tsulag Khang or 'House of Wisdom' but it is now known as the Jokhang which means the 'House of the Buddha'.
For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It is in some regards pansectarian, but is presently controlled by the Gelug school.
Along with the Potala Palace, it is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Lhasa. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace" and a spiritual centre of Lhasa.
17th century depiction of the Jokhang from the PotalaThe Jokhang temple was constructed by King Songsten Gampo probably in 642. It was originally called the Rasa Tulnang Tsuklakang or The House of Mysteries, The Magical Emanation at Rasa [the early name for Lhasa]. Both Bhrituti and Wencheng, the Nepalese and Chinese wives of Songsten Gampo brought important Buddhist statues and images to Tibet as part of their dowries, and the were housed here.
It was boarded up during the reign of the Bonpo king, Langdharma (reigned 838-841 CE). The famous Buddhist Master Atisha taught here in the 11th century and it has been considered the most important temple in Lhasa ever since.
This temple has remained a key center of Buddhist pilgrimage for centuries. It was sacked several times by the Mongols, but the building survived. In the past several centuries the temple complex was expanded and now covers an area of about 25,000 sq. meters.
The Jokhang temple is a four-story construction, with roofs covered with gilded bronze tiles. The architectural style is based on the Indian vihara design, and was later extended resulting in a blend of Nepalese and Tang Dynasty styles. The rooftop statues of two golden deer flanking a Dharma wheel is iconic.
The Jokhang temple complex has several decorated shrines and rooms. The main hall of the temple houses the Jowo Shakyamuni Buddha statue, perhaps the single most venerated object in Tibetan Buddhism. There are also famous statues of Chenresig, Padmasambhava and King Songtsan Gambo and his two famous foreign brides, Princess Wen Cheng (niece of Emperor Taizong of Tang China) and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal. Many of the statues were destroyed during the "cultural revolution" but have since been remade - often including broken pieces of the original statues.