Tawang is both historically and naturally endowed. It is located at a distance of 183 Kms from Bomdila and is situated at an altitude of 3500 metres above sea level. The natural beauty and solitude of Gudpi and Chong-Chugmi ranges, Tawang chu River and Tawang valley are very mesmerizing. The inhabitants of the districts are all of Monpa tribes except Shyo village which is dominated by people of Tibetian origin.
There are two major religious festivals of the Monpas viz “LOSAR” and “TORGYA”. Both festivals are celebrated once annually. The LOSAR s celebrated to the commencement of New year. Every third year of Torgya, the festival of Dungyur is celebrated. Both “Dungyur and Torgya” festivals are celebrated at the premises of the Tawang Monastery with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm.
There are many beautiful grlacial lakes in and around Tawang with crystal blue waters such as Sela lake, P.T.Tso lake, Sangetser lake, Banggachang lake and many more. These remain frozen in winter while in summer they become haven for migratory birds.
TAWANG TOURISM DETAILS
If Shangri-La conjures up images of an earthly paradise isolated from the outside world, happy people, Buddhist chants floating in the air, and mystical monks engrossed in prayers, then Tawang is what you’re most likely thinking about. Located at a height of near about 10,000 ft above sea level, picturesque Tawang is a thinly populated mountainous tract lying on the northwest extremity of Arunachal Pradesh in north east India. It is also the seat of the 400-year-old Tawang monastery, one of the oldest and the largest monasteries in India and the biggest outside of Lhasa.
As the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama, it is a holy site for Tibetan Buddhists and a prominent center for Gelug or Gelugpa, the pre-eminent Buddhist school in Tibet. Tawang shares boundaries with Tibet in the north, Bhutan in the south west and Sela range of West Kameng in the east.
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ORIGINS OF TAWANG:
Origins of Tawang are tad obscure. It was part of Tibet in the medieval times. Prior to the construction of the monastery, Tawang was traditionally inhabited by the Monpa people. The spread of Buddhism in the area started with the arrival of Guru Padmasambhava, the Indian saint, in the 8th century. Tawang Monastery was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyasto in accordance with the wishes of the fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso.
There are two legends about how Tawang derived its name. ‘Ta’ means horse and ‘wang’ means chosen. The site of the present monastery is believed to have been chosen by a horse owned by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso. Gyatso failed in his search to find a suitable place to build the monastery despite his best efforts. So, he decided to sit and pray in silence for guidance. When he opened his eyes, he found his horse missing. He found his steed on the top of a hill known as Tana Mandekhang. Considering it as a good omen, Gyatso decided to initiate work for building a monastery.
After gaining control of Tawang, the British hoped it would be a center of influence for them on the north east frontier. Tawang was under Chinese rule when the People’a Liberation Army invaded India in 1962. It became part of India again when the Chinese army withdrew. All visitors need an ILP (Inner Line Permit) to enter Arunachal Pradesh. As per guidelines issued by the government of Arunachal Pradesh – “The Inner Line Permit to the casual visitor shall issue for a period of 15 days without photo on production of PRC or Election Card from native place or Indian passport or PAN or Income Tax Registration card or Driving License issued by the competent authority. The application should be recommended by an officer related to purpose of visit or other officer equivalent to the rank of Under Secretary to the Government of Arunachal Pradesh.” The ILP can be collected from the Arunachal office near Commerce college in Guwahati. The road to Tawang from Guwahati is in bad shape and the journey takes close to 18 hours.
THINGS TO DO IN TAWANG
Losar in Tawang
Monpa New Year celebrated usually in February-March. The festival lasts for about eight-15 days. Yak and Lion dance performances from door to door as mark of happiness. The monastery was founded in late 1681. According to another legend, the saint Pema Lingpa gave initiations such as Tamdin and Ka-gyad and hence the place came to be known Tawang (Ta is an abbreviation of Tamdin; wang means initiation).
It is the new year festival of the Monpas and is marked with a lot of gaiety and festivity. In this festival, the Monpas go to the houses of their relatives and elders in order to receive new year wishes. Losar is not only the biggest festval but also the happiest one. The date of the Losar festival is determined by the Lunar calendar. On the eve of the festival, people clean their houses as well the village complex to usher in the New Year and discard the old. The dirt of the old year is considered to symbolise ill health.New religious flags are hoisted at the top of homes.. Also during this period, lamps are lit and prayers are offered for peace and harmony. Hot ‘Chang’(local wine) mixed with Khabsay( Losar Snack) is served.
Gaden Ngamchoe Festival in Tawang
As per lunar calendar, the festival falls in the 25th day of tenth month. It is to mark the death anniversary of Je Tsong Khapa, founder of Gelukpa sect.
As per the Lunar Calender, this festival falls in the Twenty Fifth day of the Tenth Month. This day is observed to perpetuate the death anniversary of Je Tsongapa, the founder of the Gelukpa Sect. As a mark of devotion and to mourn his death, bright butter lamps are placed on the roofs of the houses and Monasteries during the night.
Dukpa Tse-She Festival in Tawang
Celebrated to commemorate Lord Buddha imparting religious sermon to his five disciples at Sarnath. This festival generally falls on the fourth day of sixth month of lunar calendar.
On the fourth day of the seventh month i.e Dukpa Tse-Shi, the Lord Buddha delivered his maiden preaching on the Four Noble Truths at Deer Park in Sarnath. The day is commemorated by visiting religious shrines and offering prayers.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN TAWANG
Tawang is fairly unexplored as a result of which finding good accommodation here may be a challenge. It offers plenty of mid-range and budget accommodation options. Most of the hotels are located in the market area. There is a modest Government Tourist Lodge and a Circuit House where you can stay, provided you have permits.
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BEST PLACES TO EAT IN TAWANG
Places to eat in Tawang are limited. Travelers might find food rates to be expensive. This is because most of the things have to be transported from the plains. While the local food is predominantly non-vegetarian, vegetarian food is also available. Roadside stalls selling momos and thukpas are quite common. Be warned, the traditional food of Monpas is liberally spiced with chilies.
BEST TIME TO VISIT TAWANG
The average minimum and maximum temperature of Tawang is as given below. The best time to visit Tawang is also specified.
March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October
HOW TO REACH TAWANG
Tezpur Airport, located 143 km away, is the nearest airport. It is connected by flights to Kolkata and Guwahati. Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, 170 km away at Guwahati is the nearest international airport. Taxis are available from the airport.
Tezpur is the major rail head closest to Tawang. Buses and private taxis are available to reach Tawang.
Buses and Taxi ply regularly between Tezpur (Assam) and Bomdila, and Tawang. It takes about 12 hours to reach Tawang from Tezpur. In addition to private taxis, shared taxis are also available. The journey to Tawang by road is an arduous one. A major part of the road is loose tarmac and gravel giving way to mud in many places. However, it is a scenic journey and makes up for the strain one has to endure.