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Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh

Introduction

Located in Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang Monastery is a famous religious place. Known as 'Golden Namgyal Lhatse', The Tawang Monastery stands on a hill, about 10,000 ft above sea level. Founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso, it has ravines in the west and south, narrow ridge on the north and a slope on the east. It offers the imposing view of the Tawang-Chu valley. The monastery is one of its kind in the country and 2nd largest in Asia. It has the capacity for housing about 700 monks but presently around 300 monks live in the monastery. This monastery is the source of the spiritual life of the people of this area. Visiting the monastery is a spiritually reviving experience.

The Structure of The Tawang Monastery

Dukhang - The Assembly Hall

The assembly hall, which is known as 'Dukhang' is the most imposing building of the monastery. Standing on the northern side of the court, it is a three-storied building that houses the temple as well as the 'Labrang' (The establishment of the Abbot).

The inside walls of the hall are painted with murals of different divinities and saints. The altar envelops the whole northern wall of the hall. There is the silver casket that holds the Thankas. Standing in the middle of the northern side, a massive statue of Lord Buddha captivates the onlookers. This 26 ft high statue is the largest of the monastery.

The Entrance of the Monastery

One can enter to the monastery from the north along the ridge. Just close to the entrance of the monastery, there is a building named the 'Dung-Gyur Mani' from where the water is brought for use. To the south, lies the 'Kakaling' the entrance gate. This hut-like structure has the two lateral walls, made of stone. The ceiling of the gate is painted with Kying-khors (Mandalas) whereas the inside walls are beautifully painted with mural of saints.

Labrang

To the south, stands the main gate of the monastery. Fitted with big doors, it is set in the northern wall of the monastery. It is about 925 feet long. Another gate near the southern wall is fitted with a huge door. A narrow path passes all along the outer side of the eastern wall that connects this gate with the Kakaling.

The Court of the Monastery

Runs from the main gate, a paved path leads to a stone slabs court. This is the place where religious dances as well as outdoor ceremonies are held. The entire eastern half of the monastery houses sixty residential quarters known as 'Sha' or Hut for the stay of the resident monks. These are constructed by a group of villagers on voluntary basis. They also take the responsibility for its maintenance.

The Centre for Buddhist Cultural Studies

The monastery also houses a Centre for Buddhist Cultural Studies. It is the place where young monks are taught English, Hindi, Arithmetic and traditional monastic education.

Festivals

Losar and Torgya are the popular festivals, celebrated in the monastery. Celebrated in January, the Losar festival marks the beginning of the New Year. This 15 day festival is celebrated by lightening lamps, hosting prayer flags and offering prayers.

Celebrated for three days by the Lamas, Torgya starts from the 28th day of the eleventh month of lunar calender. The activities include making a pyramidical structure of barley flour, offering prayers, lightening every corner and performing dance. The dance signifies the victory of good over evil spirits.

Saka Dawa is another popular festival, celebrated on 4th month of lunar calender. It marks the Buddha's enlightenment day.

Accommodation

There are no such luxury accommodation available. Only some accommodations are available at Tawang.

How to Reach Tawang

By Air: Tezpur in Assam has the nearest airport, which is 365 km away. It is connected to Kolkata in West Bengal and Guwahati in Assam.

By Rail: Guwahati is the convenient railhead, connecting it to Delhi and Mumbai by Rajdhani Express and other trains.

By Road: State transport bus or private bus and jeep are the other options to reach Tawang by road.



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