Tawang Monastery, Tawang
Known as the largest monastery in India, Tawang Monastery was founded in the 17th century, under the orders from the 5th Dalai Lama of the Tibetan Buddhist sect. The building is located at an elevation of 3000 meters above sea level and is known for its scenic views and remarkable architecture.
Tawang Monastery, in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, is the largest monastery in India and second largest in the world after the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. It is situated in the valley of the Tawang River, near the small town of the same name in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh, in close proximity to the Tibetan and Bhutanese border.
Tawang Monastery is known in Tibetan as Galden Namgey Lhatse, which translates to “celestial paradise in a clear night.” It was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1680-1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. It belongs to the Gelug school of Mahayana Buddhism and had a religious association with Drepung Monastery of Lhasa, which continued during the period of British rule.
The monastery is three stories high. It is enclosed by a 925 feet (282 m) long compound wall. Within the complex there are 65 residential buildings. The library of the monastery has valuable old scriptures, mainly Kangyur and Tengyur. Of all the festivals celebrated in the monastery, Torgya is the most elaborate and colorful.
Attractions and Info on The Tawang Monastery
The Tawang Monastery also known as “Galden Namgyal Lhatse” is famous Buddhist monastery which was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso in the year 1860-61 AD. The Tawang Monastery stands on the start of a hill, about 10,000 ft above sea level and has ravines in the south and west, narrow ridge on the north and a gradual slope on the east.
This Buddhist monastery tour offers an imposing and picturesque view of the Tawang -Chu valley. The major attractions here lies in the appreance of the monastery. monastery appears like a fort from a distance, as if guarding the admirers in the wide valley below. Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh is the largest of its kind in the country and 2nd largest in Asia. The Tawang Moanstery has the capacity for housing about 700 monks, but, the actual number of resident Lamas (Monks) at present is a little more than 300. This monastery of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh is the source of the spiritual life of the people of this region. S
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The Architecture Structure of The Tawang Monastery
Dukhang – The Assembly Hall
The most imposing building of the monastery is the assembly hall known as “Dukhang”. It is a three-storied building standing on the northern side of the court and houses the temple and the “Labrang” (The establishment of the Abbot).
The inside walls of the Dukhang are painted with murals of various divinities and saints. The altar covers the entire northern wall of the hall. To the left of the altar is the silver casket veiled in silk, holding the Thankas (also spelt as Tankas or Thangkas). These are the Thankas of Goddess Sri Devi (“Palden Lhamo”) the main deity of the monastery, which was given to Merak Lama by the 5th Dalai Lama. The Thankas was painted with blood drawn from the nose of the 5th Dalai Lama. The painting came to be known as “Ja-Droi-ma”, means, it had warmth of a bird, which symbolised that the Thanka was of a living type.
A massive richly adorned statue of Lord Buddha stands in the middle of the northern side. The statue is seated on a platform and its body, rising up, ends up in a huge head above the first floor. It is the largest image of the monastery and is about 26 ft high.
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The Entrance of the Monastery
The entrance to the monastery is from the north along the ridge. Just near the entrance to the monastery there is a building housing the “Dung-Gyur Mani” from where the water is fetched for use in the monastery. To the south of it is the ‘Kakaling’, the entrance gate. A littel travel to the Kakaling, a hut-like structure with its two lateral walls made of stone. It serves as a gate. The ceiling the Kakaling is painted with Kying-khors (Mandalas). The inside walls are painted with mural of divinities and saints. After passing through the Kakaling there is a big gate further south which is without any door.
Further south stands the main gate of the monastery, which is fitted with huge doors and is set in the northern wall of the monastery. The eastern wall starts from the open outer gate and encloses the entire eastern side of the monastery. It is about 925 feet long and the height varies from about ten to twenty feet. There is another gate near the southern and of this wall. It is fitted with a huge door. Near it there are two slits in the wall to see out through and for placing muzzle-loaded gun to fire upon the approaching enemy. A narrow path runs all along the outer side of the eastern wall connecting this gate with the Kakaling. It is said that the yarn given by the Vth Dalai Lama to Merak Lama enclosed the area bounded by the four walls.
The Court of the Tawang Monastery
A paved path runs from the main gate toward rear of the monastery and leads to a stone slabs court. Religious dances and outdoor ceremonies are held in this court. The entire eastern half of the monastery is covered with sixty residential quarters called “Sha”(hut) for housing the resident monks. Each of these dormitories has been constructed by a group of villagers on voluntary basis. They also carry out the repairs and are responsible for its maintenance.
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A three storied building stands on the western side of the court. It is the “Par-khang” (Library). All the Holy Scriptures including a long two-storied building flanks the southern side of the court. A part of this building is used as store for the provisions of the monks. The Dra-tsang buk and his entourage occupy the other part. A two storied building, on the eastern side of the court is called “Rhum-khang”, which is used for cooking the food-offerings for the rituals as well as refreshments for the monks on ritual days.
The Centre for Buddhist Cultural Studies
Buddhist Cultural StudiesThe Tawang was monastery also a Centre for Buddhist Cultural Studies, the place, where young monks are taught Arithmetic, English, and Hindi besides traditional monastic education.
In brief, this monastery is simply amazing and majestic in its appearance and splendour. Visiting the Tawang Monastery Arunachal Pradesh is most spiritually a reviving experience.
Travel to Tawang Monastery
There is no airport or railhead in Tawang. Tezpur is the closest place, which offers an airport.
Road Transport : The only way out of the Tawang town leads back over the Sela Pass and down to Bomdila. Arunachal State Transport runs buses to Bomdila on Wednesday. Friday And Saturday (8hr). Private buses also run daily via Bomdila to Tezpur , departing round about noontime and arriving Tawang early in the morning of the following day. Jeeps also leave daily for Tezpur early in the morning from Tawang City Gate, 200m downhill from the bus stand.
Hotels Resorts and Staying Options near the Tawang Monastery
Some good accommodations are available at Tawang for the tourists. you may not come across luxury accommodations.