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The Johkang Temple

* The center of Tibet Buddhism,   the most religious place in Lhasa. 
History: Built from 647 AD
Distance from downtown: 0Km / 0Hours Drive 
Entrance fee: RMB 85 per person
Open Hours: 07:00—18:00
* Address:  Barkhor Street, Chengguan District, Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China
*  TEL:  0086-891-6323129
* The best visiting time: May--October

The Johkang Temple
The Johkang Temple
The Johkang Temple
The Johkang Temple
The Johkang Temple
The Johkang Temple
The Johkang Temple
The Johkang Temple
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During the reign of Songtsen Gampo's father, the king of the Kathmandu valley was one Amshuvarman, who instated his own era in 576 (he was preceded by Shivadev and followed by the latter’s son Udayadeva in 621, and thereafter by the usurper Jisnugupta/Visnugupta in 624). Udayadeva’s son Narendradeva fled to Lhasa when his father was overthrown, and remained ther until his return from exile, probably with Tibetan assistance, and enthronement in 641, after which he introduced the Matsyendranath cult. He is said to have vanished into the foot of Kathmandu’s celebrated Matsyendranath image at the time of his death.

It was during Narendradeva's sojourn in Lhasa that Songtsen Gampo married the Nepalese princess Bhrikuti, who arrived in Lhasa in 632 or 634 and began construction of the Potala. Later, he married the Chinese princess Wencheng who arrived in Lhasa in 641 and remained ther until her death in 680/681. In consequence of this latter marriage, the Tang emperor Kao Tsung bestowed upon Songtsen Gampo the title Baowang, ‘jewel king’.

The Jokhang is Tibet’s most sacred shrine, the focal point of pilgrims from the entire Tibetan plateau. Situated at the heart of the old town of Lhasa, it was founded by Queen Bhrikuti on a site deemed by Queen Wencheng to be the principal geomantic power-place in Tibet, identified with the heart of the supine ogress. To facilitate the construction of the Jokhang in 638 the Othang Lake had been filled in with earth.transported by goats.The original name of the town Rasa(‘place of the goat’) was subsequently altered to Lhasa(‘place of the deity’) follow ing the temple’s consecration.

However, further obstacles had to be eliminated by the construction of 12 outlying geomantic temples before the building of this central temple could be completed. In this way, the Jokhang came to form the centre of a grand geomantic scheme whereby temples were erected in three successive rings of four on the body of the ‘supine ogress’ which is Tibet (ie on her shoulders and hips, elbows and knees, and hands and feet). On the Jokhang’s eventual completion(647), the temple was known as Rasa Trulnang (‘magical apparition of Rasa’); and also as Gazhi Trulnang (‘magical apparition end owed with four joys’) because its construction was said to have brought happiness to the four classes of the populace.

The main gate of the Jokhang temple faces west towards Nepal in recognition of Queen Bhrikuti who bore the expense of the Jokhang’s construction. The original design appears to have had a Newar model, and only later was it said to have been modeled on Vikramashila Monastery in Northwest India. The earliest phase of building, traces of which indicate distinctive Newar influence, are to be seen in the original door-frames of the four ground-floor inner chapels dedicated to Mahakarunika, Amitabha, Shakyamuni, and Maitreya; and those of the second storey at the centre of the destroyed north wing, and the Zhalre Lhakhang of the east wing, as well as the Songtsen Chapel of the west wing, the fact that the Newr queen wished to make the third storey but never did may in dicate her premature death. Later, when the third storey was added, the temple was said to represent the three buddha-bodies (Trikaya) or three world-systems (Tridhatu).

Bhrikuti installed the primary images in a pentoid arrangement (five main chapels flanked by vihara-like cells) within a square hall: the deity Aksobhya in the centre flanked by Amitabha and Maitreya; with Mahakarunika and Shakyamuni Acalavajra on the north and south wings respectively. There were four gates:one in each of the four walls, and 37 columns represented the 37 sections of the Vinaya.

Songtsen Gampo erected the protector shrines, with images of naga kings, Ravana and Kubera to safeguard the temple from the elements. He also concealed his treasures(terma) in important pillars of the Jokhang; a custom perhaps linked to the age-old Tibetan tradition of concealing wealth at the foundation of buildings of pillars.

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