Holiest of all Tibetan religious sites, the Jokhang Temple is the destination for devout pilgrims from across the land. A palpable sense of reverence accompanies a visit here. You will see the pilgrims constantly prostrate themselves in the dust outside the temple; others continuously turn their prayer wheels and chant mantras.
The Jokhang temple, located at the epicenter of the Tibetan world and the heart of Lhasa, has gilded roof, towering walls and gorgeous decoration inside. It was built in the seventh century on a strict geomantic scheme and has undergone considerable embellishment and renovation through the centuries. A major period of restoration followed great damage during the Cultural Revolution.
The four-story main building demonstrates a combination of the Han, Tibetan, Indian and Nepalese architectural styles, as well as a mandala world outlook of Buddhism. With the Hall of Amitayus Sutra as its center, the temple symbolizes the nuclear of the universe. The Hall of Sakyamuni is the essence of the temple.
Before entering the Inner Jokhang, you should walk the Nangkhor Inner Circuit in a clockwise direction. It’s lined with prayer wheels and murals depicting a series of Buddhist scenes.
More than 20 chapels house many golden, bronze and clay statues of Buddha of different sizes. The most revered chapel of the inner hall is Jowo Sakyamuni Lhakhang, opposite to the entrance. Inside rests a bejeweled statue of Jowo Rinpoche, representing the Buddha at age of 12, surrounded by adoring disciples. It was brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng as a wedding gift from the emperor. On busy days, you may wait in line to enter this shrine, but it’s worth it.
Before you leave, climb the stairs next to the main entrance up to the Jokhang’s ornately decorated golden roof. You will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Barkhor, the Potala Palace, and the snowcapped mountains beyond Lhasa.
The Jokhang is a must when travelling in Tibet. But you can only visit the Jokhang Temple at the specified time. From 08:00 to 11:30, it is open to religious people, and the tourist group exceeding 10 people is not allowed to enter; and from 11:30 to 17:30, it is open to tourists. The visit to the Jokhang Temple for tourist groups shall not exceed one hour (20 minutes for the 1,000-Buddha Corridor, 10 minutes for the Central Hall, and 20 minutes for tourist to take pictures of the exterior of the Golden Summit. Photos are not allowed inside the buildings).
You can go to the Jokhang Temple on foot; or by minibus and get off at the stop of the Tibet Hospital. It costs about 4yuan to go to the temple by tricycle.