Tawang, the Land of the Monpas

Tawang, the Land of the Monpas

Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

There is so much going on in Tawang, it definitely is a place to visit. It radiates Buddhism and has natural beauty and serenity. It is surrounded by lakes and is the home to the Monpas, a community in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Tawang Monastery

The largest monastery in India and second largest in Asia, it houses over 300 monks and is undisputedly the biggest attraction in Tawang. The monastery has several structures within its premises and the architecture is simply stunning. There are several paintings within its walls and prove to great works of art. The Monastery itself provides a breathtaking view of the Tawang valley.

Festivals of Tawang

The Torgya festival is a 3 day festival and is celebrated in January or February. Colorful masks of animals and traditional dances attract thousands of people to the monastery. The Chham is the main event and cannot be missed.

Losar is the New Year festival of the Monpas towards the end of February or beginning of March. With traditional dances and music, the festival is celebrated for eight to fifteen days.

The SakaDawa festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the middle of the lunar month. It celebrates Gautam Buddha’s achievement of Nirvana. Many people participate in the festival as well.

Other Buddhist centers to visit

AnniGompa is an important nunnery and is the oldest in the region. Urgelling Monastery is the birth place of the 6th Dalai Lama and is frequently visited. Manjushree Vidyapeeth is an orphanage and houses about 90 children. It is maintained by the Tawang monks and tourists are invited to volunteer here. 45 kilometers away from Tawang is the TaktsangGompa. This monastery also provides beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. KhinmeyNyingma monastery is located in the Khin-mey village can also be visited.

Arts and crafts

The Monpa people have fine traditional as well as relisious arts and crafts. Wood carvings, weaving, paper-making, mask making, pottery, Thanghkapainting as well as carpet-making are popular here. Also available are traditional furniture pieces, Shongbu utensils, statutes, incense and felt shoes. If you are looking for some souvenirs or religious items to take back home, you must visit the Craft Centre of Tawang.

Other places to visit

Gorichen Peak is the highest peak in Arunachal Pradesh with a height of 7500 meters. Trekking is very common and scaling the height gives spectacular views. Nuranang waterfalls is 40 kms away from Tawang formed by the Nuranang River. The picturesque beauty of the falls is worth your time. PengaTeng Tso Lake is 17 kms from Tawang. During the winter, the lake freezes and is a skiing spot for tourists. Shonga-tser Lake is a lake that was created by the 1971 earthquake and is a perfect spot for beautiful photographs. Bumla pass is at an altitude of 5330 meters and is at the Indo-China border. This pass is open only during certain months of the year and require a special permit but totally worth it. The Bap Teng Kang waterfall allows swimming and popularly visited by tourists. The Tawang War Memorial honors the soldiers who fought in the 1962 Indo-China war and is visited by many to pay their homage. It also houses many artifacts.

How and when to visit?

Tawang is about 3 days cab ride from Guwahati. Before entering Arunachal Pradesh, an Inner Line Permit and a Protected Area Permit must be taken by every tourist which is available in Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkata or Tezpur airports.

The Tawang region is open to tourists during October to April. Certain areas can only be accessed with special permit and so make sure to get the army stamp on your passport before reaching those check posts.

Touch and explore Buddhism at Tawang for a whole new spiritual experience…