Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet. Everyday pilgrims from everycorner of Tibet trek a long distance to the temple. Some of them even progressprostrate by body length to the threshold of the temple. Pilgrims fuel myriad offlickering butter lamps with yak butter, or honor their deities with whitescarves (Kha-btags or Hada) while murmuring sacred mantras to show their pietiesto the Buddha.
It lies at the center of the old Lhasa. Built in 647 by Songtsen Gampo andhis 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 Sakyamuniaged 12 brought by Chinese Princess Wencheng. Princess Wencheng reckonedaccording to Chinese astrology that the temple should be built on the pool wherethe Jokhang now locates. She contended that the pool was a witch's heart, so thetemple should be built on the pool to get rid of evils. The pool still existsunder the temple. Then goats were used as the main pack animals, as is thereason the city is called Lhasa. The construction took 12 months. However it wasoriginally small and had been expanded to today's scale in later dynasties. Whenthe Fifth Dalai Lama took reign, large-scale reconstruction and renovation hadbeen done. The temple is a combination of Han, Tibetan and Nepalesearchitectural techniques. Visitors will see sphinx and other weird and sacredsculptures.
The temple keeps many invaluable cultural relics. The most famous andvaluable one is the Jowo Sakyamuni aged 12, which is circumambulated bythousands of pilgrims day and night. On his sides, there are altars of SongtsenGampo and his two wives who introduced Buddhism into Tibet. The murals in themain hall are also worth seeing, depicting the procession of Princess Wenchengarriving in Tibet and the building of the Jokhang Temple while other murals tellJataka stories. Two thangkas imaging Yamantaka and Chakrasamvara from the Mingdynasty (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 stuffsare also kept here.
Every year, the Great Prayer Festival will be held in the Temple. The ritesof Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas' initiation into lamahood are also held in themonastery.