- Churches/Religious Sites Type
- 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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Alongside Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple is one of the most important sites in Tibet. The Jokhang Temple was built in the seventh century to promote Buddhism in Tibet, and as such earned the distinction of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Jokhang translates to "house of Buddha," or more specifically "chapel of the Jowo." And it lives up to its name. The temple houses more than 3,000 images of Buddha, deities and other historical figures in the religion, including the Jowo Shakyamuni.
Jowo Shakyamuni, or also referred to as the Jowo Rinpoche, is considered to be the most sacred image of Buddha in Tibet. It is said that the statue was sculpted by Vishwakarma – the Indian god of architecture – between the fifth and sixth century B.C., when Buddha was still believed to be alive. This has led to the belief that the Jowo Sakyamuni, as one of the earliest accounts of Buddha, is the most accurate visual representation of Buddha. Research has shown that this story is factually inaccurate, but that hasn't stopped crowds of Tibetans from coming to the temple to pray. The statue depicts Buddha the moment he reached enlightenment – legs in lotus position, one hand gesturing meditation with the other gesturing the "earth to witness."
You'll see throngs of pilgrims here, praying both inside and out. There are also accommodations on-site for monks. Travelers say witnessing this everyday way of life in Tibet makes the Jokhang Temple a rich cultural experience not to be missed. Not only that, but visitors say the temple complex is absolutely beautiful. Jokhang's design is an ornate mix of architectural elements originating in China, Nepal and India, so expect plenty of color. Travelers say it's important to keep in mind that this is a place of worship first and a tourist attraction second. Be mindful and respectful of the Tibetans that are there to pray and refrain from photography inside the temple.
You can find the Jokhang Temple in central Lhasa a little more than a mile east of Potala Palace. The temple is open from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. year-round (except when Tibet closes its borders to visitors from February to early April). However, the temple is closed to foreign visitors from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every day for prayer. Admission costs 85 yuan, or about $13.
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