Tawang, the Land of the Monpas

Tawang, the Land of the Monpas

So much is going on in Tawang, and is definitely a place to visit while traveling in northeast India. 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.

Tawang Monastery – Arunachal Pradesh

Being the biggest monastery in India (2nd in Asia), Tawang Monastery houses more than 300 monks and is the most visited place 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 whole Tawang valley.

Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh
Tawang Monastery, Arunchal Pradesh

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 Tawang monastery. The Chham is the main event which should not be missed.

Losar is the New Year festival celebrated by the Monpas towards the end of February or beginning of March. With traditional dances and music, it lasts 8-15 days. You can have a look at Losar in Tawang itinerary.

The Saka Dawa festival is celebrated during full moon. It celebrates Gautam Buddha’s achievement of Nirvana.

You could visit Arunachal Pradesh Festivals if you want to dig deeper into the cultural festivities of Arunachal.

Other Buddhist centers to visit

  • Anni Gompa 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,
  • Taktsang Gompa is situated at 45 kilometers from Tawang, this monastery provides beautiful views of the surrounding mountains,
  • Khinmey Nyingma monastery is located in the Khin-mey village and can also be visited.

Travelers following Buddhism tracks would be glad to catch a glimpse of this itinerary : From Theravada to Mahayana Buddhism

Natural wonders and around Tawang

Nuranang falls (Jang Falls), Arunachal Pradesh
  • Nuranang waterfalls : 40km from Tawang and formed by the Nuranang River. The natural beauty of the falls is worth your time,
  • PengaTeng Tso Lake : 17km from Tawang. The lake freezes in winter and is a skiing spot for travelers,
  • Shonga-tser Lake is a quite recent one as it was formed 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 border betwen India and China. This pass is opened 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.

Sela Pass

Se La, “La” meaning Pass, is an impressive Himalayan mountain pass where you can visit the renowned Sela Gate during your trip in Arunachal Pradesh, featured as the first picture of this post. One can also admire the Sela Lake and an excellent view of the Kangto (7060 m) and the Gorichen Peak (7500 m) : the highest peak of Arunachal Pradesh. If you enjoy hiking, especially away from the crowd, scaling the height here gives spectacular views ; it is worth checking our itinerary Bailey Trail Trekking.

Sela Pass Lake, Arunachal Pradesh

Arts and crafts

The Monpa people have fine traditional as well as religious 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 an overview of local craftsmanship or some souvenirs or religious items to take back home when traveling in Arunachal Pradesh, you should visit the Craft Centre of Tawang.

Far East Tribes of Arunachal brings you to meet numerous Arunachali people, from various tribes in the State, who will be glad to talk about their art.

How and when to visit Tawang ?

Traveling to 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…

Young Buddhist Monks in Tawang Monastery
Buddhist monks students, Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh

Useful links

Day-tour visit of Tawang : Our special 1-day itinerary to visit the most of Tawang

Tawang Travel information : Wiki Travel

Tawang introduction : Arunachal Tourism official website

Places to visit in Tawang : Arunachal DC official website