Jokhang Temple is located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It is in some regards pan-sectarian, but is controlled by the Gelug school. The temple's architectural style is a mixture of Indian vihara design, Chinese Tang Dynasty design, and Nepalese design. It was founded during the reign of king Songsten Gampo. According to tradition, the temple was built for the two brides of the king, Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal. Both wives are said to have brought important Buddhist statues and images from China and Nepal to Tibet as part of their dowries, and they were housed here. Many Nepalese artists worked to construct this temple. During the Bon period of Tibet the templewas (and sometimes still is), called the Zuglagkang (House of Religious Science or House of Wisdom). The term zuglag refers to the 'sciences' such as geomancy, astrology, and divination which formed part of the pre-Buddhist shamanistic religion now referred to as Bon. It is more commonly known today as the Jokhang, which means the 'House of the Buddha'.
Jokhang Temple is the spiritual center of Tibet and the holiest destination for all Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims. Princess Wencheng made use of Chinese astrology to decide that the temple should be built over the pool where the temple is now located. She believed that the pool was a witch's heart and that building the temple over it would purify the area of evil. This pool still exists under the temple. The temple's central hall holds is most precious object, a sitting statue of Sakyamuni while he was still only a 12 year-old youth. This was carried to Tibet by Princess Wencheng from her home in Chang'an in 700 A.D. It is a gilded statue adorned with many jewels, in an elaborate setting. The idol is very important to Buddhists who have knelt in worship before it for centuries. Outside the temple an old and withered willow tree has survived centuries and is said to be planted by Princess Wencheng herself. Also there is a 3 meter (10 ft.) high pillar, a treaty stone recording the alliance between the King of Tibet and the Emperor of China in 823 A.D. Every year, Buddhist's Great Prayer Festival is held in the Temple. The rites of Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas' initiation into lamahood are also held in the monastery. 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," and a spiritual centre of Lhasa.