- Location: No. 28, Barkhor Street West Street, Chengguan District, Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
- Recommended reason: The true center of Lhasa; the pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhist believers
- Opening hours: 11:30-17:30 (for visitors); 08:00-11:30 (for worshipers)
Jokhang Monastery is located in the center of the old downtown of Lhasa. It is the end of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhist believers. Jokhang Monastery holds an extremely noble and holy position in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. No matter in terms of geographical location or the minds of Tibetan Buddhist believers, Jokhang Temple is a veritable holy place and center of Tibetan Buddhism.
History of Jokhang Monastery
With a history of more than 1,300 years, Jokhang Monastery was built in 647 AD. It took more than 3 years to complete it. Jokhang Monastery is the most splendid existing architecture of the Tubo period.
Jokhang Monastery, formerly named "Re Sa", is also used to be the name of Lhasa city. It also shows its supremacy in the heart of Lhasa citizens. There is a common saying that "Jokhang Monastery was founded first, and Lhasa city behind".
It's said that the place of Jokhang Monastery was a lake. Songtsen Gampo promised Princess Chi Zun by the lake to build a temple of Buddha where the ring fell. Another saying is that Songtsen Gampo built it for enshrining the Sakyamuni statue which the princess Chi Zun brought from Katmandu. The reason why Lhasa is called "Holy Land" is closely related to this Buddha statue.
Jokhang Temple suffered two disasters in history. One is the first Buddhist-banning movement initiated by the noblemen and ministers who believed in Bonismo religion in the late 7th century AD, and the other is the second Buddhist-banning movement initiated by Gldarma. Jokhang Monastery was severely destroyed and even closed. After several restorations and expansions of the following dynasties, Jokhang Monastery forms the current magnificent scale covering more than 25,100 square meters. Jokhang Monastery was listed as one of the first batch national key cultural relics protection units in 1961 and listed as a world cultural heritage as an expansion project of the Potala Palace in 2000.
The Structure of Jokhang Monastery
It is the earliest civil structure building in Tibet and created the temple layout with Tibetan-style and plain-style. The circle of the Sakyamuni Buddha Hall in the center of the Jokhang Temple is called "the inner circumanbulation" (Nang Kuo), and the circle of the external wall of the Jokhang Temple is called "the middle circumanbulation" (Barkhor). Taking the Jokhang Temple as the center, the big circle, including Potala Palace, Medicine King Mountain, and Ramoche Temple, is called "the exterior circumanbulation"(Lin Kok). The three circles from the inside to the outside are the route for Tibetans to make pilgrimages.
From the golden top of the Jokhang Monastery, you can see Potala Palace lies on the right of the distance. The layout of the Jokhang Monastery is different from the Buddhist temples of Han Dynasty. The four-storey main hall of the Jokhang Monastery faces to the west, and there are ancillary halls on two sides, which reproduces the ideal model of the universe in the Buddhist Mandala city. The golden tops and the corbel arches of the whole building were built with the typical styles of Han nationalities, while the watchtower and carved beams were designed with Tibetan style. What's more, in the main hall of the Jokhang Monastery, there are 103 wooden carved beasts and sphinxes arranged in rows under the eaves of the second and third floors that show the architectural characteristics of Nepal and India. Integrating the architecture styles of Tibet, Tang Dynasty, Nepal and India, Jokhang Monastery becomes an outstanding example of Tibetan religious buildings.
Highlights of Jokhang Monastery
There is a saying that if you don't visit the Jokhang Monastery, you haven't been to Lhasa. There is an endless stream of devout pilgrims in the Jokhang Monastery. Bowing with the face to the ground and falling for worshiping the Buddha, they left deep marks on the grey stone floors. When you enter the small square in front of the Jokhang Monastery, you will have an overall view of the Jokhang Monastery. Two stone tablets enclosed by the wall. One of them is the well-known "Alliance Tablet of Tang Dynasty and Tubo" with a height of 3.2 meters, a width of 0.82 meters and a thickness of 0.35 meters. It was written in both Tibetan and Chinese in 823 AD.
Jokhang Monastery enshrines many Buddha statues. It is the holy monastery for Buddhist believers. The main architectures are Maitreya Buddha Hall, Guanyin Bodhisattva Hall, Three Kings' Hall, Tara Hall, and so on. There is a Tibetan mural "Princess Wencheng's entry to Tibet" with a length of nearly one thousand meters and "The Construction Drawing of Jokhang Monastery".
Best time to visit Jokhang Monastery
♦ It's better to visit the Jokhang Monastery is from March to October.
♦ The Tibet Butter Lamp Festival will be held on the 15th day of the 5th Tibetan month and the Pelden Lhamo Festival will be held on the 15th day of the 10th Tibetan month. It is really bustling and lively in the Jokhang Monastery during these celebrating days.
How to Get to Jokhang Monastery
♦ You can take the public buses No. 5, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24 to Lugu Station.
♦ Jokhang Monastery is located in the downtown of Lhasa, and you can get there by taxi.
♦ You can walk from Barkhor Street.
Tips for visiting Jokhang Monastery
♦ The tourist groups can't visit Jokhang Monastery more than one hour.
♦ No photos can be taken in some halls.
♦ You must wear long-sleeved clothes and long pants when you enter the Jokhang Monastery.
♦ Recommended Tibet Tour: 12 Days China and Nepal Highlights Tour