Located at the center of the old Lhasa, Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet. Built in 647 by Songtsen Gampo, it has a history of more than 1,300 years. The temple is the fine product of Han, Tibetan and Nepalese architecture techniques. Visitors will be treated to the sight of various exotic and sacred sculptures. Jokhang Temple also houses many invaluable cultural relics. Every year, the Great Prayer Festival is held here. The temple was called the Tsulag Khang or 'House of Wisdom' but it is now known as the Jokhang which means the 'House of the Lord'.
Jokhang Temple has remained a key center of Buddhist pilgrimage for centuries. It was sacked several times by the Mongols, but the building survived. In the past several centuries the temple complex was expanded and now covers an area of about 25,000 sq. meters. There is a walled enclosure in front of the Jokhang which contains some willows called the Jowo Utra ('Hair of the Jowo') and a doring or inscribed pillar erected by the Chinese in 1793 during a smallpox epidemic. It records the Sino-Tibetan treaty of 822 concluded by King Ralpacan and includes 'China and Tibet's vow of eternal peace and mutual respect of the borders of their independent states' as well as advice on hygiene measures to prevent smallpox.
The Jokhang Temple complex has several decorated shrines and rooms. The main hall of the temple houses the Jowo Shakyamuni Buddha statue, perhaps the single most venerated object in Tibetan Buddhism. There are also famous statues of Chenresig, Padmasambhava and King Songtsan Gambo and his two famous foreign brides, Princess Wen Cheng (niece of Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty) and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal.
For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. Along with the Potala Palace, it is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Lhasa. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace'.