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Jokhang Temple

Tibet Jokhang TempleJokhang Temple was founded in 647 by King Songtsen Gampo (r.617-49), the first ruler of a unified Tibet, and his two foreign wives who are credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. The king's first wife, Princess Bhrikuti (married in the 630s), was the sister of the Nepalese king, while his second wife, Princess Wencheng (married 641), was the niece or daughter of the Chinese emperor.

The temple was constructed to house a sacred image of the Buddha, the Jowo Rinpoche, which Queen Wengcheng brought with her from China as a dowry. This statue is still enshrined within the temple and is the holiest object in Tibet.

Various traditions explain the foundation of the temple. In one version, Queen Bhrikuti founded the temple to house the statue, while Queen Wengcheng chose the site based on the principles of geomancy (feng shui). Another legend says that the king threw his ring into the air, asking the spirits to show him where to build the temple. The ring fell into a lake, from which a stupa emerged. The lake was filled in to support Jokhang Temple, whose central shrine was built over the miraculous stupa.

The temple has been regularly expanded over the years, including extensive reconstruction under the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Remarkably, however, the core of the temple is still original from the 7th century.

Since the Chinese occupation in 1951, Jokhang Temple has taken on a political role as the focus of Tibetan cultural identity and resistance. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), part of the Jokhang was used as a pigsty while another section housed Chinese soldiers, who spent days burning the temple's ancient Tibetan scriptures.

Today, Jokhang Temple is open to pilgrims and tourists but carefully controlled by the Chinese government. Only 100 monks can occupy the temple at any time and the area is reportedly monitored by hundreds of police. For this reason, it is generally not safe for monks to speak to foreign visitors.
Jokhang Temple is a very important pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists. Pilgrims come from all corners of Tibet, usually on foot and often performing austerities for penance along the way. The most devout pilgrims cover the last several miles prostrate on the ground. More prostrations are undertaken in the plaza in front of the temple. Before entering, most pilgrims circumambulate the temple on the Barkhor, a sacred path that is also lined with market stalls selling yak butter and jewelry.

Inside the temple, pilgrims make their way gradually to the central shrine, often crawling on their hands and knees or prostrate on their bellies. They hum prayers while also spinning prayer wheels, and bring offerings (typically white scarves and yak butter for the votive candles) to the many chapels that ring the shrine. Finally, they pray before the sacred image of the Jowo Shakyamuni.
How this trip makes a difference!
Creative Hands Every booking you make creates a donation. Ghale Treks is a proud supporter of Creative Hands a social welfare organization. We send part of your service charge to Creative Hands who support worthy causes in poorer communities. Your money will go to education, disabled or physically challenged people, street children, victims, and those living in rural and remote areas of Nepal. Read more about the great work that Creative Hands do and where your donation goes here: http://www.creativehands.org.np

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