October 9th, 2022
Tawang is located high up in the northwest corner of Arunachal Pradesh which shares boundaries with Bhutan and China. It is a place of passes that at a very height, shadowed white in the winter and an unyielding green in the summer, which is only interrupted by unexpected spears of waterfalls and tranquil lakes. In 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama and his entourage made their almost unfathomably difficult journey across this area from Tibet into India to escape the Chinese invasion. Much earlier, in the 17th century, when many Buddhist sects were engaged in bitter strife, a monk by the name of Meera Lama decided to construct a stronghold here to safeguard the monks who adhered to his Gelugpa faith. It is today referred to as the Tawang Monastery. It also goes by the name “biggest monastery in India”. In a country where history has primarily been shaped by Buddhism and war, tourism is currently penning a new chapter.
The journey to Tawang includes traveling over 200 kilometers across the Himalayan territory, weaving through a colorful tapestry of natural and cultural variations. You can also choose a helicopter journey to one of India’s most picturesque locations. Bhalukpong is marked as the border between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. It is a little commercial center on the river’s shore that is swamped with picnickers every winter. The area beyond Bomdila, 110 kilometers after Bhalukpong, is full of breathtaking scenery and fresh air.
The actual ascent begins at the Sela Pass which is the highest motorable pass in the North-East at 13,828 feet. The approach to Sela is generally distinguished by fog, landslide traces, and crooked roads. Tawang town is set on a broad slope of a Himalayan mountainside. And the towering Tawang Monastery, with its white walls and yellow dome, dominates the skyline like a stronghold from the Middle Ages.
Golden Namgey Lhatse, which translates to “celestial paradise in a clear night,” is the Tibetan name for Tawang Monastery. The monastery has three stories. A 925-foot (282-meter) long compound wall surrounds it. There are 65 residential buildings located within the complex. The monastery’s library contains priceless ancient texts, primarily Kangyur and Tengyur.
Enter the monastery through the Kakaling, a colorful gate structure fashioned in the shape of a hut. The side walls exhibit the highest level of stone masonry workmanship. Kakaling has mandalas on the top and inner walls that are painted with paintings of saints and holy figures. The walls are covered with thangkas depicting Buddhist deities and saints. Tibetan Buddhist paintings on silk, cotton, etc. known as thangkas. Buddhist imagery can be seen on the balcony’s curtains. An assembly hall, living rooms, and other structures may be found at Tawang Monastery. It also acts as a center for Buddhist cultural studies.
Every year, Tawang monastery has its Torgya festival to fight off evil spirits and foster happiness and prosperity among the people.
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