Jokhang Monastery

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The Jokhang Monastery, also called the Qokang Monastery, Jokang, Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery or Zuglagkang, is located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet.

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Jokhang Monastery
Jokhang Monastery

It was founded during the reign of king Songsten Gampo. According to tradition, the temple was built for the two brides of the king, Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal. Both wives are said to have brought important Buddhist statues and images from China and Nepal to Tibet as part of their dowries, and they were housed here. Many Nepalese artists worked to construct this temple.

Jokhang Monastery
Jokhang Monastery

During the Bon period of Tibet the temple was (and sometimes still is), called the Zuglagkang (House of Religious Science or House of Wisdom). The term zuglag refers to the 'sciences' such as geomancy, astrology, and divination which formed part of the pre-Buddhist shamanistic religion now referred to as Bon. It is more commonly known today as the Jokhang, which means the 'House of the Buddha'.

Jokhang Monastery
Jokhang Monastery

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.

Jokhang Monastery
Jokhang Monastery

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. Jokhang's interior is a dark and atmospheric labyrinth of chapels dedicated to various gods and bodhisattvas, illuminated by votive candles and thick with the smoke of incense. Although some of the temple has been rebuilt, original elements remain: the wooden beams and rafters have been shown by carbon dating to be original; the Newari door frames, columns and finials date from the 7th and 8th centuries.

Jokhang Monastery
Jokhang Monastery

The Jokhang temple sits on Barkhor Square in the old section of Lhasa. The entire temple complex occupies approximately 25,000 sq.meters. Pilgrims circumambulate the temple as part a pilgrimage to the site. The circumabulation route is known as the "kora" in Tibetan and is marked by four large stone incense burners placed at the corners of the temple complex.

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