Things to do in Tibet: Jokhang Temple in Lhasa

Jokhang Monastery, Lhasa, Tibet

Located in Lhasa’s Barkhor Square lies the sacred, golden-domed Jokhang Monastery, also referred to as the Jokhang Temple.

Jokhang is considered to be the location of Tibet’s spiritual core, and dates back to the middle of the seventh century.

Millions of Tibetans have made pilgrimages to the monastery over the centuries, and today, Jokhang is thought of as the most sacred and important of all the Buddhist temples.

During your visit, it is easy to spend hours admiring the gilded bronze tiled roof, world-famous statues, and amazing shrines in this four-story, iconic historical center.

Visitors may access the temple by walking, bus, or even tricycle is not a bad choice. At 2:00pm, novice monks meet on the balcony of the second floor to debate religious doctrines.

The temple is open all day, including access to the rooftop, but the Lonely Planet guide suggests going in the morning instead of the afternoon, when visitors “have to enter via the side door to the right of the main entrance, and interior chapels may be shut.” Those traveling to the temple later in the day can spend time exploring the temple until sunset, and may be able to enjoy the sound of monks chanting prayers on the roof around 6:30pm.

Those traveling to Jokhang will be delighted by its rich history of fascinating stories, including statues that were given as part of intricate dowries, tales of the structures (and statues hidden inside) withstanding attacks from the Mongols, and the belief that the temple was built over a pool that the Chinese Princess Wencheng firmly believed to be an evil witch’s heart.

Visitors may photograph the inside halls for a fee, but taking photos of the exterior and rooftop areas are free. Locals also ask that photographs not be taken of “those stretched out in prayer” as a consideration for those worshiping at the temple.

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