About Jokhang Temple
Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet. Everyday, pilgrims from every corner of Tibet trek a long distance to the temple. Some of them progress by prostrating themselves throughout their journey until they reach the threshold of the temple. Pilgrims kindle butter lamps with yak butter, or honor the deities with white scarves (Kha-btags or Hada) while murmuring sacred mantras to show their pieties to the Buddha.
The temple lies at the center of the old Lhasa. Built in 647 by Songtsen Gampo and his two foreign wives, it has a history of more than 1,300 years. It was said that the Nepalese Princess Tritsun wanted to build a temple to house the image of Jowo Sakyamuni brought by Chinese Princess Wencheng. Princess Wencheng reckoned according to Chinese astrology that the temple should be built on the pool where the Jokhang is now located. She contended that the pool was a witch's heart, so the temple should be built on the pool to get rid of evils. The pool still exists under the temple.
The construction took 12 months. However, the original structure was small. Large scale reconstruction and renovation took place under the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama.
The temple is the product of Han, Tibetan and Nepalese architectural techniques. Visitors will be treated to the sight of various exotic and sacred sculptures. It also houses many invaluable cultural relics. The most famous and valuable of these is the sculpture of Jowo Sakyamuni aged 12. It is one of the very few sculptures of its kind making it even more precious. The image is flanked on both sides by the altars of Songtsen Gampo and his two wives who introduced Buddhism into Tibet.
The murals in the main hall depicting the procession of Princess Wencheng arriving in Tibet and other murals depicting Jataka stories are also worth seeing. Two thangkas portraying Yamantaka and Chakrasamvara from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) still remain in perfect condition. The gold bumpa (a vase) upon which the reincarnations of Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama are decided, musical instruments brought into Tibet by Wencheng and other important artifacts are also kept here.
Every year, the Great Prayer Festival is held in the Temple. Initiation rites into lamahood of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lamas are also held in this monastery.
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Namtso Lake£ºNamtso, another holy lake in Tibet, is located near Damxung. 4718 meters (15475 feet) above sea level and covering 1900 square kilometers (735 square miles), the lake is the highest saltwater lake in the world and the second largest saltwater lake in China. The snow capped Mt. Nyainqentanglha, considered as the son of Namtso and leader of sacred mountains, soars up to sky beside her. Singing streams converge into the clean sapphire blue lake, which looks like a huge mirror framed and dotted with flowers.
The Namtso Lake is held as "the heavenly lake" or "the holy lake" in northern Tibet. Lying at the foot of Nyainqentanglha Mountain, it covers an area of 1,940 square kilometers at an elevation of 4,718 meters. It is believed to be the second largest saltwater lake in China and the saltwater lake at the highest elevation in the world.
Respected as one of the three holiest lakes in Tibet, the Namtso Lake is the seat of Paramasukha Chakrasamvara for Buddhist pilgrims. In the fifth and sixth month of the Tibetan calendar each year, many Buddhists come to the lake pay homage and pray. Deep tracks are worn into the lakeshore due to this activity. In history, monasteries stood like trees in a forest around the site, attracting large numbers of pilgrims as eminent monks in Buddhist temples extended Buddhist teachings.
Buddhists believe Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Vajras will assemble to hold religious meeting at Namtso in the year of sheep on Tibetan calendar. It is said that walking around the lake at the right moment is 100,000 times more efficacious than that in normal years. That's why thousands of pilgrims from every corner of the world come to pray at the site, with the activity reaching a climax on Tibetan April 15.
Walking around the lake takes a week. Ritual walkers love to burn aromatic plants to raise smoke on Auspicious Island [explain this a little] and throw a piece of hada scarf into the lake as a token of fulfilled wishes. If the scarf sinks, it implies ones wish is accepted by the Buddha; if the scarf flows on the water or only half sinks, it means one has failed to be honest and something unhappy may lie ahead.
On the four sides of the lake stand four monasteries, which have Buddhist meanings. By the lake there are also two standing stone pillars, each rising 30 meters and eight meters apart. One has a crack large enough to hold a single person inside. Some Tibetans believe it is the Gate God of the Namtso Lake.
Five islets planted in the vast sapphire lake are said to be the incarnation of the Buddha of Five Directions. Every pilgrim walking around the lake will piously worship them. These islets are famous for their topography, covered by weird but vivid stones.
Another five peninsula protrude into the lake and represent sites related to eminent monks, such as temples. On the north bank of the lake is the Zhaxi Peninsula, on which stands a forest of strange-shaped stones forged from calcium, among which occur numerous fantastic caves.
Besides gorgeous and enchanting sights, the Namtso Lake is also rich, with birds darting over the water now and then. It is a heaven for animals and plants, producing abundant fish. The natural pastureland around the lake offers ideal conditions for animal husbandry.
The views around Lake Namtso each evening at dusk are beautiful and fantastic
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