Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tawang - A Spiritual Home Of Buddhist

tawang arunachal pradesh

Tawang, the gateway to Tibet, the abode of Dalai Lama, spiritual home of the Buddhists, a tourist's nirvana. This magnificent town is a miraculous proof of the human race's will, perseverance and physical strength. Located at a distance of 555 kilometers from Guwahati and at a dizzying height of 8700 feet, it requires an perilous bus or cab ride through serpentine roads of the Himalayas. Tawang town serves as the headquarters of the district having the same name which is spread over 2085 square kilometers bordering Bhutan and Tibet. The temperatures are usually mild but can fall up to six degrees below zero in winters.

Tawang is an important religious site for the Monpa tribes whose numbers dominate other tribes in the vicinity. The 17th century Galden Namgyal Lhatse, popularly known as the Tawang Monastery, overlooks the expanse of Tawang's valleys and its gentle inhabitants.

How to Reach Tawang

The most convenient but pricey option is the Pawan Hans helicopter service from Tezpur, Assam. The 80 minute ride will cost Rs. 3000 single way. However, most people opt for the 13 hour bus journey beginning from Bomdila which will take you through scenic mountainous roads and the awe-inspiring Sela pass situated at a height of 14000 feet. One can also consider the shared taxis from Tezpur at Rs. 350 per head.

Where to Stay in Tawang

One can find a lot of options for lodging in the budget category such as the Tourist Lodge and Htel Gourichan. For a more confortable stay, one can choose the pricey Tawang Inn. Most hotels in the area are good value for money and are conveniently located.

Places To See In Tawang

The Tawang Monastery is a an imposing structure built on a ridge overlooking the western edge of the the town. The exquisite architecture and its stunning grandeur has lent this obscure town its identity of a spiritual and tourism hot-spot. Tawang Monastery, which was rebuilt with concrete in 1997, is the home of about 450 Buddhist monks or Lamas. It houses historic and priceless Kangyur scriptures in the Parkhang library. One may also have a look at the Sutras, Tangym, Sungbhum and a variety of other books which have been handwritten and printed. A 8.3 meter high statue of Buddha is kept inside the Dukhang which also houses the main temple. The principle deity of the monastery is Goddess Dri Devi whose Thankas – embroidered paintings are kept in a silver casket next to the altar. The monastery is gathering point for all major ceremonies and festivals in Tawang.

tawang monastery

The Urgelling Monastery's importance in Tawang is second only to the Galden Namgyal Lhatse as the former is the birthplace of Tsangyang Gyatso, the sixth Dalai Lama. It was constructed around the year 1498 A.D., 5 kilometers South of Tawang Town. Prior to its destruction by a certain warrior clan of ambiguous origins, it housed various scriptures include the Kangyur manuscripts. To protect them, they were moved to the Tawang monastery. Currently, only a modest temple exists on the site.

A modern day shrine dedicated to the brave Indian soldiers, defending against the violent and invasive army of China, has been erected 21 kilometers ahead of the Tawang Town. Named after rifleman Jaswant Singh, who along with two other soldiers held their post for 72 hours and successfully stalled the Chinese progress, the Jaswantgarh Army Memorial is a symbol of bravery and sacrifice.

One can also indulge in some high-altitude trekking around this historic town. Tawang is a shopper's delight where one can find hand weaved carpets, wrap skirts and shawls. Wooden items such as spoons, masks and bowls are popular and can be found in the Old Tiber market.

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