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Jokhang Temple

Jokhang Temple, located on Barkhor Square in the center of Lhasa is the most important temple in Tibet. The temple architecture blends Indian, Chinese, Tibetan, and Nepalese styles.

Constructed by King Songtsan Gampo, in the early 7th century, the temple was originally called Rasa Tulnang Tsuklakang. The Nepalese and Chinese wives of the king brought Buddhist statues and images as part of their dowry and they were housed in the temple. The temple has been a center of Buddhist pilgrimage for centuries.

The temple occupies an area of 25,000 square meters and is a four story building with a gilded bronze roof. On the roof are two statues of deer flanking a Dharma Wheel and is an iconic symbol in Tibet. The interior of the temple is labyrinthine and quite dark. There are many chapels dedicated to different Buddhist deities and they are only illuminated by yak butter candles and the smoke of incense is everywhere adding to the peaceful and solemn atmosphere. The main hall of the Jokhang Temple houses a statue of The Buddha. There are many famous statues in the temple, including statues of King Songtsan Gambo and his two foreign brides. Many of the statues were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been recreated. The temple is surrounded by Barkhor Street and pilgrims can be seen moving clockwise along the street before entering it.

In front of the temple is a walled enclose which has stumps of willow trees which were supposed to have been planted by Queen Wen Ching when the temple was consecrated. Two inscribed pillars can be found on thenorth and south entrances to the temple. The southern pillar was erected in 1793 during a smallpox outbreak and gives advice on hygienic measures to combat smallpox. The northern pillar records the Sino-Tibetan treaty of 822.