As the Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Tibet, Jokhang temple can be considered as the holiest temple in Tibetan Buddhism. Jokhang Temple is also famous for attracting thousands of Tibetan as well as Nepali Buddhist devout and many foreigners every year. Jokhang Temple is located in Barkhor square in Lhasa and all Tibetan people consider Jokhang Temple most sacred and important pilgrimage sites. Each year, Jokhang Temple is the destination since it hosts the annual Great prayer Festival and also holds the events where the initiation of Dalai Lama and Panchen Llamas are respected and ceremonies are also hold to respect such great Buddhist figurines in Tibet.
History of Jokhang Temple
Being one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimages sites in Tibet, Jokhang Temple holds a long and ancient history of its existence and origins. Jokhang Temple was established by King Songtsan Gampo in 647. King Songtsen Gampo was the first great king of the unified Tibet and holds an important role in the development of Tibetan Buddhism in the secluded country of Tibet. The main reason for the establishment of Jokhang Temple was to house the important Buddhist artifacts brought by two foreign wives of King Songtsen Gampo i.e. Princess Bhrikuti from Nepal and princess Weng Cheng. Princess Bhrikuti was the first queen of Unified Tibet, and was married to King Songtsen Gampo in around 630s and the first queen brought many Buddhist artifacts, Nepali Buddha statues, Buddhist paintings and Nepali artifacts craftsmen as a part of her dowry.
Meanwhile, second queen WengCheng was the daughter of Chinese Emperor and brought many Buddhist artifacts as a part of her dowry. Several scholars also believed that Wengcheng was the niece of Chinese emperor, yet not solid proof has been found. Both queens were believed to be the devout Buddhist and sometimes considered as the form of Tara in Buddhism. So King Songtsen Gampo built the Jokhang temple to house all the Buddhist artifacts brought by both queens.
It is believed that the initial purpose of Jokhang Temple was to house the Nepal Tibet Buddha statues of Akshobhya Buddha brought by Bhrikuti from Buddhism in Nepal. But after the death of the king, Second queen changed the sacred image of Akshobhya Buddha and replaced with the sacred Buddha image of Shakyamuni Buddha. And thus this buddha images was enshrined in the Jokhang temple and considered as the most holiest Buddha images in Tibet and miraculous stupa was constructed in Tibet. Various reformations was made to Jokhang Temple under the leadership of 17th Dalai Lama but the Tibetan Buddha statues of Shakyamuni Buddha was kept the core of Jokhang Temple too.
Important aspects in Jokhang Temple
Covering an area of 25,000 hectares, Jokhang temple is a four stories tall temple and the construction of Jokhang temples was influenced by Buddhist elements of both Tibet, Nepal, China and India too. One of the important of features of Jokhang temple are the exterior part of the temple i.e. dear and wheel motifs. These two are the early symbol of Buddhism and both symbols represents the Buddha's first teachings in Deer park. The main attraction of Jokhang Temple is the Jowo Rinpoche i.e. Jowo Shakyamuni and the statue of Buddha which depicted at the age of 12 is considered as the holiest object in Tibet. The third floor of Jokhang Temple contained the image of Palden Lhamo who is considered as the fierce protector of Dalai Lama. Some of the important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Tibet are Potala Palace, Samye Monastery, Palcho Monastery. These are quite famous Buddhist monuments in Tibet and many Buddhist devouts from Nepal, Burma, and other Asian Buddhist countries come to visit.