Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tawang: Celestial Paradise


Tawang situated at a height of over 10000 feet, is truly a hidden paradise for nature lovers. Mesmerising waterfalls, sprawling lakes spread all over, snow-bound alluring white peaks in faraway mountains, Tawang brings us closer to nature at its finest monasteries and magical gompas. The door to this paradise is Bomdila at 8000 feet and gradually just move upwards to 14000 feet where the awe-inspiring Sela Pass stands at its majestic glory with tales of love and bravery written all over it. For the extreme nature lovers, it is also a paradise for high-altitude trekkers starting right from Bomdila.



The road that winds climbing the Himalayan valleys to Tawang is spectacular and with many attractions: a few steps and crosses through Bomdila and Dirang, making the journey interesting. A town is exemplified by the people of the place and here the simple, ever helpful and caring people of the Monpa tribe simply display it at its best.




The monks robed in warm red and yellow clothes have a smile which can melt a million hearts, are found all over the place. The freezing ice-cold temperatures round the year keep the town alluring and fresh for the native eyes. Draped in a misty cover for most of the time sunlight can hardly be seen, although this part of the world get the first rays of the sun here.




Come October and the valley wears a wedding garment. The main festivals are the Torgya in January (Every three years comes the 'Dungyur', a sophisticated ritual dedicated to the purification by demons with the invocation of Palden Lhamo and the exposure of a specific Thongdrol), the Losar (Tibetan New Year in February and March), which is a very colorful rally of Monpa that flows in from all parts of the valley of Tawang wearing their finest traditional clothing, the festival of spring, the date of which is fixed by the government, and in October the Mahotsava. It is also very interesting that the festival is held annually in Gorsam Chorten.




The three days Tawang Buddha Mahotsava on 13, 14 and 15 October is an event that seeks to show the tradition and culture of the Monpa tribes. The more exciting and colorful event is the dance competition. A mixture of traditional dances from the state, as well as from other parts of the country, in addition to modern dances, is presented continuously for three days. In addition to the various traditional dances of the Monpa tribe of Tawang, there are traditional dances of other tribes of Arunachal Pradesh as Nyshi, Adi, Mizi, Aka, Apatani & Sherdukpens too.




The traditional dress show throws light on the past days of Monpas and their traditional clothing. Sebang is an important religious ceremony of the Buddhists. In this ceremony 21 monks in their ceremonial clothing walk in procession to receive their spiritual leaders.Choikor is an important ritual in the Buddhist and is believed to be a harbinger of peace and prosperity. The festival also includes a Food Festival, Flower Show and various games for entertainment.


The great Tawang monastery, whose name means "blessed by a horse," is the focal point of the cultural life of the Monpa, founded in the seventeenth century by Lodre Gyatso commissioned by the fifth Dalai Lama, spiritual coordinates the activities of 17 other smaller monasteries spread all over the territory. It seems that the point where it was built was chosen by Lodre Gyatso, popularly known as Mera Lama, because his horse escaped and refused to move from there after we arrived: the Lama took this as a sign from God that this was the where would rise up the big Gompa.




The Tawang Monastery or the Golden Namgyal Lhatse built in the 17th century, and one of the largest in the world can be spotted from any part of this quaint town. The magnificent grandeur inside and outside the monastery with exquisitely crafted architecture and embroidered paintings (thankas) all over just displays the vibrant creativity of the place and the power of spiritual consciousness. Home to around 500 Buddhist monks the buzz of the prayers just hovers over the lingering air. The library adjoining it is a huge resource of ancient artifacts, scriptures, manuscripts and other Buddhist relics including the Kangyur manuscripts.




The Gompa is made up of a large number of small buildings nestled around a large open space overlooked by the main temple (the Dunkhang), the library (the Parkhang) and the Rumkhang, which houses the kitchen, the Dunkhang is finely frescoed and bill contains many statues of late, including a giant representation of the historical Buddha. In Perkhang are kept a large number of valuable ancient texts written in letters of gold, and many other items of great artistic value.


The monastery serves as the connecting point during any kind of ceremonies, festivals and major events in Tawang. Another famous landmark of Tawang is the Urgelling Monastery where the sixth Dalai Lama Tsangyang Gyatso was born. Constructed around 1498 A.D., this house still has a unique charm in its own colourful way.


Tso-kyo Lake

Tawang being close to the international boundary with China is also known for its war memorials and tales of bravery and courageous soldiers. On the way to Tawang is the Jaswant Garh, a symbol of ultimate bravery and sacrifice named after Jaswant Singh, who fought valiantly for 72 hours single handedly and successfully stalled the Chinese progression during the Sino-Indian war. And for some memorabilia from this lovely place, Tawang has a small market where beautiful hand weaved traditional carpets, shawls and other wooden and cloth items with unique Buddhist embroidery can be found.


Tawang is surrounded by almost a hundred lakes each with its own unique charm and for the most part are engulfed in Snow and mist perhaps to protect themselves from the zealous prying eyes of human kind. Among a few notable are the PTTSO lake and the Sangetsar Lake (Madhuri lake after the filming of a Bollywood film Koyla here).


This mystical valley hidden in the hills is the ideal place for a dream holiday destination with snow capped peaks, mysticism characteristic around it and much more. Juggling through the serpentine roads with narrow alpine bends of the Himalayas and scenic views, snow-capped pine trees with ice droplets hanging from the pine leaves all through the place, the journey itself is the destination.



For a detailed guide/itinerary, please visit here


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