Tawang Monastery: A Beacon of Buddhist Culture

Tawang - Indo-Buddhist Heritage Forum

Tawang Monastery

Tawang Monastery, also known as Galden Namgyal Lhatse, is one of the most significant Buddhist monasteries in India. Situated in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, the monastery is perched on a hilltop at an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level. It is the largest monastery in India and the second largest in the world after the Potala Palace in Tibet.


History of Tawang Monastery

The Tawang Monastery was founded by the Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, and has a legend surrounding its name. Ta means “horse” and wang means “chosen”. So, the word Tawang means “chosen by horse”.

Tawang Monastery, Aranachal Pradesh

Most striking features of the Monastery

The monastery is an iconic symbol of Buddhist culture and heritage in India, attracting thousands of visitors every year.The monastery is not just a religious institution but also a center of learning and research. It has a library that houses a vast collection of ancient scriptures, including the Kangyur and Tengyur, which are considered to be the most sacred texts in Tibetan and Indian Buddhism. The monastery also runs a school that provides education to young monks in traditional Buddhist subjects, such as philosophy, meditation, and ritual practices.

One of the most significant events at Tawang Monastery is the Torgya Festival, which is held annually in January. The festival is a celebration of the victory of good over evil and involves elaborate rituals and ceremonies, including the performance of masked dances by the monks. The festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over India and beyond.

Apart from its religious and cultural significance, Tawang Monastery is also known for its scenic beauty. The monastery is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and offers breathtaking views of the Tawang River Valley. 

Note for the visitors

Visitors can also explore the nearby attractions, such as the Tawang War Memorial, which commemorates the sacrifice of Indian soldiers in the 1962 Indo-China War, and the Madhuri Lake, which is famous for its crystal clear waters and picturesque surroundings.

However, reaching Tawang Monastery is not an easy feat. The region is remote and inaccessible for most parts of the year due to heavy snowfall. The nearest airport is in Tezpur, which is around 300 kilometers away, and the nearest railway station is in Guwahati, which is around 500 kilometers away. Visitors must also obtain a special permit from the Indian government to enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

In conclusion, Tawang Monastery is a testament to the rich Buddhist culture and heritage of India. Its significance goes beyond its religious and cultural importance, as it also serves as a center of learning and research. The monastery’s natural surroundings add to its beauty and make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the culture and history of India.

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