Located in Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang Monastery is a famous religious place. Known as 'Golden Namgyal Lhatse' it was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso. Perched over a hill at about 10,000 ft above sea level, it has ravines in the west and south, narrow ridge on the north and a slope on the east. It offers an imposing view of the Tawang-Chu valley. Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh 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 here. This monastery is the source of spirituality of the people of this area and truly a reviving experience.
Structure of Tawang Monastery
Dukhang - The Assembly Hall
The assembly hall, 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 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 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.
On 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
Running 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.
Losar and Torgya are the popular festivals celebrated in the monastery.
New Year is being marked as the Losar festival. It is a 15-day festival in January celebrated with lightening lamps, hosting prayer flags and offering prayers.
Torgya, a three day event of the Lamas, begin from 28th day of the eleventh month of lunar calendar; which comes to 10 to 12 January. The activities include making a pyramid like 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 calendar. It marks the Buddha's enlightenment day.
From simple budget hotels, lodges, guest houses and home stays; all kind of accommodation is available in Tawang. A visitor can choose as per his budget and preference.
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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