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A Tibetan monk praying in front of the Jokhang Monastery, in the capital city of Tibet, Lhasa.

Jokhang Temple ("House of the Lord") is the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism, attracting crowds of prostrating Tibetan pilgrims. It hosts the annual Great Prayer Festival, as well as all ceremonies of initiation for the Dalai Lama and Panchen Llamas.

Jokhang Temple was founded in 647 by King Songtsen Gampo, the first ruler of a unified Tibet, and his two foreign wives who are credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. The king's first wife, Princess Bhrikuti was the sister of the Nepalese king, while his second wife, Princess Wencheng, was the niece or daughter of the Chinese emperor.

The temple was constructed to house a sacred image of the Buddha, the Jowo Rinpoche, which Queen Wengcheng brought with her from China as a dowry. This statue is still enshrined within the temple and is the holiest object in Tibet.

Various traditions explain the foundation of the temple. In one version, Queen Bhrikuti founded the temple to house the statue, while Queen Wengcheng chose the site based on the principles of "geomancy" (feng shui). Another legend says that the king threw his ring into the air, asking the spirits to show him where to build the temple. The ring fell into a lake, from which a stupa emerged. The lake was filled in to support Jokhang Temple, whose central shrine was built over the miraculous stupa.

The temple has been regularly expanded over the years, including extensive reconstruction under the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Remarkably, however, the core of the temple is still original from the 7th century.

Since the Chinese occupation in 1951, Jokhang Temple has taken on a political role as the focus of Tibetan cultural identity and resistance. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), part of the Jokhang was used as a pigsty while another section housed Chinese soldiers, who spent days burning the temple's ancient Tibetan scriptures.

Source: Jokhang

The monk on the picture was praying barefeeted in front of the Jokhang temple.

Long exposure. Cropped, levelled, increased sharpness, applied gradual toning.

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Additional Photos by Erdem Kutukoglu (Suppiluliuma) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 260 W: 105 N: 596] (3885)
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