One of the most important monasteries in Arunachal Pradesh, The Tawang Monastery is a must visit during your Buddhist tourism to Arunachal Pradesh.
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Tawang Monastery

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The crown of Buddhism in Arunachal Pradesh, the Tawang monastery forms the core of the Lamaistic faith of the Mahayana school of Buddhism in the region, making it the largest monastery of India and the second largest of Asia. Also known as the 'Galden Namgyal Lhatse', the Tawang monastery was established by Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso in the year 1860-61. The Tawang monastery, standing as high as 10,000 feet above the sea level amidst the picturesque Himalayan ranges sloping towards the east, offers a panoramic view of the Tawang-Chu valley. The monastery, which houses more than 300 monks(actual capacity 700 monks), is the main centre of spirituality and religion for the people residing in and around Tawang.

Monastery Architecture
The majestic monastery can be entered from its northern side along the ridge by the gate 'Kakaling', which is a hut-like structure with its walls made of stone. The ceiling or the interior roof of the Kakaling are painted with Mandalas or the Kying-Khores, while the inside walls have been painted with pictures of the saints and divinities. After Kakaling, comes the main gate of the monastery in its northern side. Its eastern wall is about 925 feet long while the height differs in between 10 to 20 feet.

The Tawang monastery houses several structures within its premises, the most prominent being the 'Dukhang'. The Dukhang or the assembly hall, which is the main building of the monastery, stands on the northern side of the main court. This three storied complex houses a temple and a 'Labrang', which is the establishment of an Abbot. The interiors of the Dukhang are equally well marked with a magnificent work of art. Its inner walls have been painted with the sketches of several saints and Bodhisattvas, whereas the northern wall of the hall is covered with an altar, used for religious ceremonies; and again, towards its(altar) left lies a silver silk casket holding the Thangkas. The Thangkas have been dedicated to the chief deity of monastery, Goddess Shri Devi, also known as Palden Lhamo. This Thangka, which was painted(Painting known as Ja-Droi Ma) with blood drawn from the fifth Dalai Lama's nose, was given to Merak Lama by His Holy Highness the fifth Dalai Lama himself. Besides, the northern side of the building nests the largest image of the monastery, a huge statue(26 feet high) of the Lord Buddha, standing in the middle of the hall.

Tawang Monastery

Another prominent structure of the monastery is the 'Court', situated at the back of the Gompa(monastery). The stone slab court hosts religious dances and other ceremonies, held according to the lunar calendar of Monpa. On the western side of the court lies a three storied building, known as 'Par-Khang', the library. The Par Khang houses numerous sacred scriptures and Buddhist texts. A two storied structure is located on the southern side of the court, with its one part storing the monks' provisions, while the another one being occupied by Dra-Tsang Buk and his associates. Lastly, on the eastern side of the court is located Rhum-Khang, a two-storied structure. The Rhum-Khang is used for cooking sacred food on the rituals and refreshment for the monks on festive days.

The 'Sha' or hut(60 in number) is another important structure of the monastery, used as residential quarters by the monks. The Centre for Buddhist Cultural Studies is an integral part of the monastery, and act as a learning centre for the young monks, who are taught traditional monastic education along with several subjects like English, Hindi, Arithmetic and others.

Standing as high as 3500 meters above the sea level, the beautiful land of Monpas, Tawang, creates a scenic picture of panoramic mountains, quiet villages, remote hamlets, cascading waterfalls, calm lakes and magical gompas. Named after the famous Tawang monastery, Tawang is one of the best sought places by the tourists, who come here to have a date with spirituality, culture, tradition and nature.

Other Attractions of Tawang

The main festivals celebrated by the Tawang monastery are Losar and Torgya, which not only mark important days for the Buddhists, but at the same time let the people of the area to assemble and celebrate their culture and tradition.

The Losar festival, which is celebrated in the month of January, marks the beginning of the New Year according to the Monpa or lunar calendar. This 15 days festival is celebrated by lightening lamps, offering prayers and hoisting prayer flags. Another festival, Torgya is celebrated by the Lamas of the monastery for three days starting from the 28th day of the eleventh month of the lunar calendar. On this occasion, the Lamas make a Torgya, which is a pyramidical structure made of barley flour, offer prayers, lighten every corner of the monastery, and perform dance to signify the victory of good over the evil spirits.

Other main festivals celebrated in the monastery are Saka Dawa - celebrated on the fourth month of lunar calendar to mark the Buddha's enlightenment day, Dukpa Tse-Shi - on the 6th month of the lunar calendar to mark the fist sermon of the Buddha, Lhabab Duechen - to mark the reincarnation of the Buddha in His Shakyamuni form, celebrated on the ninth month of the calendar and Ganden Ngamchoe - to commemorate the death anniversary of Tsongkha-Pa, the founder of Gelugpa sect.

 How to Reach
By Air - The nearest airport is at Tezpur(Assam), 365 kilometers away, which is directly connected to Kolkata(West Bengal) by two flights weekly. One can also take a flight to Guwahati(Assam), 555 kilometers away and connected by daily flights to different parts of the country.

By Rail - The nearest convenient railhead is at Guwahati(555km), which is connected to the cities like Delhi and Mumbai by Rajdhani Express and other trains.

By Road - Tawang can be reached by a state transport or private bus, or a jeep taken from either Bomdila(185 km), Tezpur(365 km) or Guwahati(555 km) via Sila Pass.

Statue of Lord Buddha
Statue of Lord Buddha
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