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"You haven’t been to Lhasa, if you don’t visit Jokhang Temple,” one of the most venerable Lamas in Jokhang Temple once said. And now, it has been widely agreed with by every tourist who has come to Lhasa.
Located in the center of the old Lhasa city and surrounded by the bustling Barkhor Street, Jokhang Temple is regarded as the most sacred temple and spiritual center of Tibet. It is often the ultimate pilgrimage destination for all Tibetan Buddhists. When walking around the temple square, you may likely and astonishingly find a multitude of devout Buddhists prostrating themselves before the temple.
With a history of over 1300 years, Jokhang Temple is the first Buddhist temple built in Tibet. It was first founded by Songtsen Gampo (the first King of Tibet) in 647, for welcoming his bride the Tang Princess Wencheng. Then, after several centuries’ reconstruction, it was expanded into the now architectural complex which covers an area of 25,000 square meters with 20 decorated shrines and rooms. The main 4-storey shrine houses the 12-year old Jowo Shakyamuni Buddha statue (the most famous one), a Buddhist sculpture brought as part of the dowry of the Tang Princess Wencheng, and the side halls worship the statues of King Songtsen Gampo and his two brides, Tang Princess Wencheng and Nepal Princess Bhrikuti. Tourists will also be treated to the sight of various exotic and sacred sculptures, murals, and invaluable cultural relics and treasures.
In 2000, Jokhang Temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace”. Thus, it now comes to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lhasa.