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Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple, built in 647, lies at the center of the old Lhasa, and is is one of Tibet's holiest shrines.

Jokhang Temple was built by Nepal princess Tritsun, the wife of he first Tibetan King (617 - 650) who unified Tibet, Songtsen Gampo, to accommodate the twelve-year-old Jowo Sakyamuni, brought to Tibet by Princess Wencheng, who married Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century. Princess Wencheng reckoned according to Chinese astrology that Wuotang Lake was the heart of the devil, so the temple should be built on the lake to get rid of evils. The lake still exists under the temple.

Jokhang Temple was built by craftsmen from Tibet, China, and Nepal and thus features different architectural styles. The original structure was small and enlarged by the Fifth Dalai Lama. In the central hall on the first floor is the gold statue of the seated 12-year-old Sakyamuni, which is the most venerated and beautiful image in all Tibet. The statue is 1.5 meters tall, cast from precious metals, and decorated with glittering jewels. On both sides are the altars of Songtsen Gampo and his two wives who introduced Buddhism into Tibet.

Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. Everyday, pilgrims from every corner of Tibet trek a long distance to the temple. They kindle butter lamps with yak butter, or honor the deities with white scarves (Hada) while murmuring sacred mantras to show their pieties to the Buddha. Every year, the Great Prayer Festival is held in the Temple.

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