Jokhang Temple


Jo is a shorter version of Jowo. Jowo means lord or master in Tibetan. The name Jowo is normally used for precious Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Khang means temple, chapel, or building. Jokhang Temple can be traced back to the 7th century 33rd King Srongtsen Gampo. 

The temple was built for the statue of the Buddha Shakyamuni at the age of 8th namely Jowo Akshobhya. The Tibetan name of the statue is Jowo Mikyo Dorje. The statue was bought to Tibet by the Nepalese Princess Brikuti.

History of the Statue of Jowo Mikyo Dorje

In the legend, the history of the statue can be traced back to the time of the past Buddha in India (the 3rd Buddha ) Woesong Chenpo also known as Dipamkara and Marmezey. 

There was a king namely Tritri who was a great devotee of Buddha Dharma. The king sponsored the construction of the statue of Buddha Jowo Mikyo Dorje to flourish the Buddha Dharma during the present Buddha Jowo Shakyamuni's ( also the 4th Buddha ) time as a prophecy.

Photo: Statue of Buddha Shakyamuni 12 years old in Jokhang Temple 

History of another Statue during the time of King Tritri

Another statue bought to Tibet by the Nepalese Princess Brikuti was the Tritri Jampa. The statue of the future Buddha Maitreya. ( the 5th Buddha ) This statue of future Buddha Tritri Jampa also has a history back to the past Buddha Woesong and King Tritri in India. Tritri Jampa shrine is the main meditation deity of King Tritri. 

Nowadays this statue of the future Buddha is inside the Jokhang Temple on the first floor after the main chapel of Buddha Shakyamuni shrine. 

History of Jhokang Temple during the 7th Century

During the 7th century, Jhokang Temple was a lake namely Wotang Tso. Princess Brikuti asked the expert in architecture Princess Wencheng about where to build the temple for the statue of  Buddha Jowo Mikyo Dorje. Princess Wencheng replied with the area where the Wotang Tso Lake was the most auspicious place to build the temple. 

Obstacles before building the Jokhang Temple

The Wotang Tso Lake was known to be the home of evil spirits so to remove the obstacles, Princess Wencheng threw her ring into the Lake and many miraculously happened including a stupa that appeared from the middle of the Lake as a sign of auspicious.

Another way to remove the obstacles is related to the white goats. The first soil on the Lake should be filled only by the white goat. After many auspicious signs, the name of the temple became Rasa Trulnang Tsuklhakang.

Rasa means Goat and the soil.

Trulnang means Miraculous.

Tsuklhakang meaning: Temple.

In the present day, there is a Jowo Rama Karmo ( a face of a goat that appeared itself inside the temple ) as a blessing from the white goats.

Photo: Jokhang Temple Square

The specialties of the Jokhang Temple 

Jokhang Temple has three different special architectures.

  1. Pagoda-style golden roof with architectural design from the Tang Dynasty.
  2. Wall and wood paintings from Newari in Nepal. 
  3. Stone walls from the local Tibetan style. 
  4. Jokhang Temple is facing Nepal into the west as a sign of respect for Nepalese Princess Brikuti. 

Jokhang Temple is full of precious statues from different regions of our world. 

Location of the Buddha Jowo Mikyo Dorje and present-day Jokhang Temple

Changes in circumstances during the 9th century in Tibet have let the statue of Buddha Jowo Mikyo Dorje in the Jokhang Temple be exchanged with the statue bought in Tibet by Princess Wencheng. 

At the present day, the main shrine of the Jokhang Temple is the Jowo Shakyamuni at the age of 12 brought to Tibet by the Chinese Princess Wencheng from Tang. The statue of Buddha Jowo Mikyo Dorje from Nepalese Princess Brikuti is at the Ramoche Temple. 

Even though they are fewer pilgrims in the Ramoche Temple, still Jowo Mikyo Dorje's statue is full of blessings.

Photo: Young Tibetan pilgrim girl prostrating near Bhakor Street in Lhasa

Present-day Jokhang Temple

  1. Jokhang Temple is located around 1km from the Potala Palace.
  2. There is a big square in front of the Jokhang Temple.
  3. There are two entrance gates and one exit gate. 
  4. Jhokang Temple is one of the only temples with statues of many great masters from different schools of Buddhism in Tibet.  Nyingma School, Kagyu School, Kadam School, Sakya School, Shiji School, Jonang School, and Gelug School. 
  5. The first floor is the main chapel of the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni at the age of 12th bought in Tibet by Princess Wencheng.
  6. The first floor also has many other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. 
  7. The second floor is the 8th manifestation of Maha Guru Padmasambhava and King  Srongtsen Gampo with his consorts. 
  8. On the third floor are the female protector Pel Lhamo and the female frog face protector Betong's chapel. 
  9. Jokhang Temple is surrounded by Bhakor Street.

Photo: Inside the Jokhang Temple 

Few great masters who were at the Jokhang Temple for many centuries

  1. King Srongtsen Gampo 
  2. Princess Monsa Tricham 
  3. Princess Brikuti 
  4. Prince Wencheng
  5. King Trisong Deutsen 
  6. Maha Guru Rinpoche
  7. Maha Guru Jowo Je Atisha
  8. Maha Guru Sakya Pandita
  9. Maha Guru Ra Lotsawa
  10. Maha Guru Tsongkhapa 
  11. Maha Guru Drukpa Kunley

Legend story from the first Tibetan Pandit Sakya Pandita

Once when the great master Sakya Pandita visited the Jhokang Temple. On his arrival, the four Guardian Kings near the main chapel of Buddha were chatting.

Two of them in the south saw Master Sakya Pandita coming by so they immediately start on duty as they were shown in a duty serious face but the two others in the north didn't see Master Sakya Pandita so they were seen smiling as a sign of chatting. 

Photo: Local Tibetan pilgrims in front of Jokhang Temple prostrating

Ugen head ornament offered by Maha Guru Tsongkhapa. The main statue of Buddha Shakyamuni in the Jokhang Temple is known as the Trulku ( meaning Gelong ) fully ordained monk form. Later Maha Guru Tsongkhapa offered the Rig Nga Ugen head ornament and the statue became Longku meaning the completely pure Buddha form.


Jokhang Temple is one of the main sights inside Lhasa. The temple is famous not only for Buddhist Travelers but also for non-Buddhist Travelers who have felt tremendous energy while visiting the temple. Local Tibetans will visit mostly in the morning for blessings.

We highly recommend Travelers visit Jokhang Temple. Travelers can send us Emails regarding traveling to Tibet and visiting Jokhang Temple. 

Written By :Tenzin

Apr 20, 2023


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    13 queries in 0.217 seconds.