Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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Tawang

 
Place : Tawang District, Arunachal Pradesh
Significance : It houses a 400 year old Buddhist monastery
Temperature : Summer 25° C to 35° C ; Winter, from 1° C to 15° C.
Altitude : 11,155 ft above sea level.
Best Time to Visit : June to October
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Perched at a height of 11,155 ft near the Indo-Bhutan border, Tawang, the beautiful land of the Monpa tribes, is the most famous hill station in Arunachal Pradesh. Also the district headquarters of the Tawang district it is famous for its 400 year old Buddhist monastery, (Tawang Monastery) the biggest monastery in India. 

Though the journey is tough, steep with hairpin bends, Tawang offers its visitors to view the snow capped Himalayan mountains, deep valleys, waterfalls, beautiful landscapes and hundred of lakes. 

The origin of Tawang is unclear. It was a part of the kingdom of Tibet in medieval times. Local tribal rulers ruled Tawang from time to time and in 1873 British declared this area as off-limits. After India gained independence in 1947, China has been claiming Tawang as an integral part of Tibet and had occupied it during the 1962 war. But the town was later returned to India. 

Tawang is also an ideal place for trekking and hiking. On the way to Tawang lies the World's second highest pass at 14000 ft, the Se la Pass through a high altitude lake of crystal blue water. Both sides of the lake are decked with miles of rhododendrons. Bomdila- Tawang area especially around the Tawang Chu offers one of the best treks. The trek starting from Jong, located between Se- la and Tawang, to Mago is through forests studded with waterfalls. May and October are the best time for trekkers. There is also a Orchidarium at Tipi near the banks of the Kameng River in the West Kameng District, enroute to Tawang.

There are various versions about the origin of the name 'Tawang'. According to one view is that, the name Tawang was given by Merak Lama in the 17th century. Mera Lama gave the name ‘Tawang’ to this place, derived from the two words ‘Ta’ meaning horse (a horse that cause Merak Lama, to establish the monastery in Tawang) and ‘Wang’ meaning blessing. Another opinion is that, this was the place where the great treasure master Pema Lingpa gave initiations such as Kagyad and Tamdlin tantras, and hence the place came to be known as Tawang.

Tawang is also known for its crafts. The handicrafts centre at the lower end of the town has exquisite woollen carpets. 

An important note that tourists have to obtain Inner Line Permits to visit Arunachal Pradesh even if an Indian citizen and one can get it from the commissioner's office at Arunachal Bhawan in Guwahati.

The Tawang Monastery 

Tawang Monastery or Gompa also known as the 'Galden Namgyal Lhatse', is a 400 year old Buddhist monastery of the Mahayana sect. It is an important centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists. Built in the year 1860-61 AD, it is situated at a height of 3500 meters (10,000 ft) at the Bhutan border surrounded by beautiful mountains. The monastery was founded by a monk, Mera Lama, a contemporary of the fifth Dalai Lama. The monastery has the seating capacity of about 700 monks, but at present it houses 500 lamas belonging to the Gelugpa or Reformed Sect of Mahayana Buddhist Monks. 

It is a vast complex of 65 buildings - a treasure house of old scriptures, priceless images, painted tapestries, books and collection of gold lettered Buddhist scriptures. The main attraction in Tawang monastery is the three storeyed assembly hall (dukhang ) that houses a 18 ft high gilded statue of the Buddha. 

The (Parkhang) main hall of the monastery houses the library which holds the rare hand written and block-printed (Thankas) manuscripts of revered books like 'Tangym', 'Kangyur' and 'Sungbhum'. The other rare works of Buddhist literature include 108 gold-embossed manuscripts of the 'Teaching of Lord Buddha' and 225 volumes of the explanations of Buddha’s teachings covered with specially designed moth - proof silk adorned with paintings. 

The Tawang Monastery is associated with the famous Torgva festival which is held in the eleventh Monpa month called the Dawa Chukchipah(i.e Dec-Jan as per the Buddhist). There is also a Craft Centre here producing fine woolen carpets of colourful designs. Recently, the complex renovated and the huge murals on the shrine's walls gleam with acrylilic paint. 

Urgeling

It is the birth place of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyastso (1683-1706). Built by Urgen Sangpor, the brother of Terton Prempalinga, the famous treasure revealer, it is situated about five kilometers to the south of Tawang. Shaded by a giant tree, this monastery also boasts a collection of many ancient Buddhist relics, foot and fingerprints of Dalai Lama. Attended by a solitary monk it is unassuming in its simplicity. 

Sange Ryabgelling and Khinme Monastery (one of the oldest in Tawang) are another famous shrines in Tawang. Singgshur Nunnery is another worth visit in Tawang.

Around Tawang

Bomdila

It is a large scenic town situated at an altitude 8000 ft. from the sea level.  From here one can view the beautiful landscapes and snow capped himalayan mountains. It is here the beautiful Buddhist monastery 'Lower Gompa'. Built in a traditional design it is the repository of culture. High above Bomdila is the Upper Gompa also known as Rabgyeling Monastery. The town also boasts crafts and shopping centres from where one can get fine carpets. 

Takstang Monastery or the Tiger’s Den

Also known as T Gompa, it is one of the famous Buhhist shrines in Tawang. Situated 12 km from Tawang, it located amidst high mountains. 

Sangeshar Lake

It is very near to Taktsang Monastery. Now this is more known as the Madhuri Lake after a dance sequence of the Hindi film Koyla, starring Madhuri Dixit. 

Bagga –Jang Lake and Sangetsar Lake are also the other beautiful lakes in Tawang. 

 

   






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