JOKHANG TEMPLE – TIBET is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Jokhang Temple is the most venerated of Tibetan temples, as the most sacred and important one. It was at the heart of Buddhist pilgrimage for many centuries.
Situated in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, the temple is one the oldest buildings in town. It is surrounded by Barkhor, the holy alley where pilgrims can permanently be found prostrating themselves while surrounding the building.
Probably the most religious people in the world, Tibetans pray daily, spinning their mani-chorlo - the hand prayer wheels, making yak butter offerings to the Buddha, prostrating themselves sometimes all day long in buddhist temples, or surrounding them, always clockwise. Filled with superstition and tabus, their existence is governed by talismans and religious symbols, aimed at purification, chasing away evil spirits and attaining a superior reincarnation.
Tibetan Buddhism, which came in the 5th century from India in its purest form, is surprisingly different, in culture and faith, from Buddhism outside of Tibet. The doctrine of the spiritual leaders Dalai Lama who are reincarnations of the Buddha is specific of Tibetan buddhism (lamaism). Tibet has been ruled by a Dalai Lama for over 350 years, from 1600 to 1959. Also, Tibetan buddhism includes elements of the old shamanic religion Bon (or Bo), a primitive faith born in Tibet, which still survives here as an independent religion. Consequently, Tibetan buddhism is filled with elements that have to do with the world of the dead. The famous “Tibetan Book of the Dead” is considered shamanic in structure.
Templul Jokhang was built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo, probably in 642, who erected it as a shrine for the statue of the Buddha brought here by the Chinese princess Wencheng, as a wedding gift from the Chinese emperor. The temple has four floors and wonderful gold-plated roofs.