Ramoche Temple

Ramoche Temple

Tibetan transcription(s)
Tibetan ར་མོ་ཆེ་དགོན་པ་
Wylie transliteration Ra-mo-che Dgon-pa
Chinese transcription(s)
Traditional 小昭寺
Pinyin Xiǎozhāo Sì
Ramoche Temple
Location within Tibet
Coordinates 29°39′31″N 91°7′49″E / 29.65861°N 91.13028°E / 29.65861; 91.13028
Monastery information
Location Lhasa, Tibet, China
Founded 7th century
Date renovated 1474, 1986 - three storeys
Type Tibetan Buddhist
Sect Gelug
Architecture Han and Tibetan
Gate of the Ramoche Temple

Ramoche Temple (Tibetan: ར་མོ་ཆེ་དགོན་པ་, Wylie: Ra-mo-che Dgon-pa, Lhasa dialect IPA: [[ràmotɕe kø̃̀pa]] ; Chinese: 小昭寺; pinyin: Xiǎozhāo Sì) is a Buddhist monastery is considered the most important temple in Lhasa after the Jokhang Temple. Situated in the northwest of the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, it is east of the Potala and north of the Jokhang,[1] covering a total area of 4,000 square meters (almost one acre).


Ramoche is considered to be the sister temple to the Jokhang which was completed about the same time. Tradition says that it was built originally to house the much revered Jowo Rinpoche statue, carried to Lhasa via Lhagang in a wooden cart, brought to Tibet when Princess Wencheng came to Lhasa. Unlike, the Jokhang, Ramoche was originally built in Chinese style. During Mangsong Mangtsen's reign (649-676), because of a threat that the Tang Chinese might invade, Princess Wencheng is said to have had the statue of Jowo Rinpoche hidden in a secret chamber in the Jokhang. Princess Jincheng, sometime after 710 CE, had it placed in the central chapel of the Jokhang. It was replaced at Ramoche by a statue of Jowo Mikyo Dorje, a small bronze statue of the Buddha when he was eight years old, crafted by Vishvakarman, and brought to Lhasa by the Nepalese queen, Bhrikuti. It is said to have been badly damaged by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.[2][3]

The temple was badly damaged during the Mongol invasions and there is no certainty that the statue that remained in 1959 was the original one. The original temple was destroyed by fire, and the present three-storied building was constructed in 1474. Soon after it became the Assembly Hall of the Gyuto Tratsang, or Upper Tantric College of Lhasa and was home to 500 monks. There was a close connection with Yerpa which provided summer quarters for the monks.[3][4]

Jowo Mikyoe Dorje of the Ramoche Temple

Destruction and restoration

Entrance to Ramoche Temple

The temple was gutted and partially destroyed in the 1960s and the bronze statue disappeared. In 1983 the lower part of it was said to have been found in a Lhasa rubbish tip, and the upper half in Beijing.[5] Thanks to the efforts of Ri ‘bur sprul sku, the parts were joined in the Ramoche Temple, which was partially restored in 1986,[1] yet still showed damage in 1993.

Following the major restoration of 1986, the main building in the temple now has three stories. The first story includes an atrium, a scripture hall, and a Buddha palace with winding corridors. the second floor is mainly residential but has a chapel with an image of Buddha as King of the Nagas. The third story contained the bedroom and chapel once reserved for Dalai Lama[6]

Upon entering the main building, one can see the ten large fluted pillars holding some of the remaining Tibetan relics such as the encased lotus flowers, coiling cloud, jewelry, and particular Tibetan Characters. The golden peak of the temple with the Han-style upturned eave can be seen from any direction in Lhasa city. The temple is an interesting example of the combination of Han and Tibetan architectural styles.

This temple is one of the key cultural relic protection sites of the Tibet Autonomous Region as well as a popular attraction in Lhasa.


  1. 1 2 Dowman, Keith. 1988. The Power-Places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide, p. 59. Routledge & Kegan Paul. London. ISBN 0-7102-1370-0 (ppk).
  2. Dorje (1999), p. 92.
  3. 1 2 Tibet (6th edition), p. 104. (2005) Bradley Mayhew and Michael Kohn. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1-74059-523-8.
  4. Dorje (1999), pp. 92-93.
  5. Tsering Gonkatsang and Michael Willis, "The Ra Mo Che Temple, Lhasa, and the Image of Mi bsKyod rDo rJe: The Narrative of Ri ‘Bur sPrul sKu," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 19.1 (2009), pp 41-57 for an account of the recovery and restoration. Available online from Cambridge Journals online: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=JRA&volumeId=19&seriesId=3&issueId=01.
  6. Dorje (1999), p. 93.


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