About 25km from the McMahon Line that constitutes the boundary between India and China at the height of 3,500 metres above sea level is located Tawang which is dotted with several old monasteries, chief of which is the 336-year-old Tawang monastery, the focal point of any visit to this Buddhist dominated town in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Tawang monastery, world’s second largest monastery complex after Drepung Monastery in Tibet, was founded by Mera Lama Lodre Gyasto in 1681 AD and is the seat of the Gelupa sect of Buddhism. Its beautifully decorated prayer hall, accessible through narrow alleys houses an 8m-high Buddha statue.
The Monastery has a big library with a notable collection of ancient Buddhist texts books and manuscripts. From the Tawang monastery, one can enjoy stunning views of the Tawang -Chu valley. The monastery attracts visitors in large number who come here to catch a glimpse of the monks’ way of living as well as to see them performing prayers and traditional rituals.
Come to Tawang during the Buddhist festivals of Losar (Tibetan New Year), Torgya and Buddha Mahotsava festivals and this ancient monastery comes alive with the spectacular mask dance called the ‘Cham’.
Another important monastery in Tawang is Sangeyling Gompa which is a center for Buddhism, its teachings and culture. Urgelling Monastery in Tawang is the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama, the only Indian to have acquired this exalted status.
How to reach Tawang
By Air: The nearest airport to reach Tawang is Salonibari Airport in Assam’s Tezpur, located at a distance of 319 km from here. However Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, 480 km from Tawang, is a more important airport connected to the major cities in India.
By Road: Tawang is 440 km from Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh, and buses ply between these two places.
By Rail: The nearest railway station to Tawang is at Naharlagun, which is connected by rail to major cities and places in India including New Jalpaiguri, Kanpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur and New Delhi. Naharlagun railway station is 15 kilometres from Itanagar.
Best time to visit Tawang
The best time to visit Tawang is during autumn and summers when temperature ranges between 5°C and 30°C.