Though the Chinese authorities issued confirmation that the Jokhang temple was unaffected by the fire incident in the temple premises on last Saturday, on the second day of Tibetan New Year, Jokhang showed signs of fire damage after it was reopened for public, three days following the incident.
The Chinese official report suggested that the fire caught up at around 6:40 pm local time on February 17, it was put out soon. According to a social media post by a Tibetan in exile, China is deleting posts about the fire in the Jokhang Temple. The topic has been one of the hottest topics and most searched topic today on Chinese social media. Yet there is no single personal post and was removed in the cyberspace immediately.
Later, it was also informed that the fire affected only an adjacent Chapel within the premises of Jokhang temple, and not the Jokhang itself, the temple and the surrounding Barkhor street was closed down for three days post the eruption of the news of fire incident.
However, after the temple was reopened to the public, it was noted that yellow draperies had been newly hung behind the temple’s central image, the famous Jowo statue of the Buddha brought to Tibet in the seventh century by the Chinese bride of the Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo according to a source saying in an RFA report.
“The temple’s management committee then issued a public notice stating that while the Jokhang would remain open that day, it would close the next, and the notice was later reissued saying that the temple would remain closed through Feb. 22.” according to the RFA report where the source also informed that the officials prohibited public entry to the second floor of the temple.
The Jokhang chapel at Tsuglakang (temple) has a history of more than 1,300 years and houses many cultural treasures, including a life-sized statue of the 12-year old Buddha also known as Jowo Sakyamuni located in Barkhor Square in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Tibetans, in general, consider this temple as the most sacred and important temple in Tibet and is a site of UNESCO World Heritage status.