Famed for being the birthplace of the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso. Tawang is a quaint and beautiful town located in Arunachal Pradesh, India. Tawang, situated at a height of 3048 meters, is filled with beautiful monasteries. The place has an air of unparalleled sanctitude that drowns you in deep serenity and calmness.
The town, also called Dawang is a place of utmost significance for the Buddhist monks. There are several monasteries located here with the Tawang monastery, the most popular of them all. Tawang leaves you spellbound with its divine beauty and air of spirituality. There are several places to visit at Tawang that will leave you with an experience like never before and is a place to be crossed off the bucket list.
Things to do at Tawang
1. Visit Sela Pass
Heavenly doesn’t do full justice. Sela pass is a breathtakingly beautiful place in Tawang. This high altitude mountain pass is the pride of Arunachal Pradesh, and rightfully so. The Sela pass and the Himalayas form an absolute enchantment for every visitor. For the people of the North East, Sela pass is more than a masterpiece from god’s tapestry to be enjoyed. It is also a lifeline for them as the Sela pass is the only path that connects Tawang to the rest of the country.
Sela pass seems to be unperturbed by the riding tension running along the borders of India. However, you need an inner line permit to visit the Sela pass. That being said, the breathtaking beauty of Sela pass is still pristine, unaffected by the impurities of the world beyond.
Sela pass with its snowy picturesque setting is a mesmerizing experience for every tourist. The Sela lake, which is essentially one of the most beautiful lakes in the area runs along with this iconic location. The Sela pass and the Sela lake situated at an altitude of 4170 meters are a gateway to Arunachal and in a way tell you the treasures that lie ahead within the state. The frozen lake can delve you into the utmost tranquility. Sela pass is an ideal location to absorb the true beauty of Tawang and anyone who visits Tawang should never miss the chance to visit the great Sela pass.
2. Visit Tawang Monastery
Tawang monastery, also known as Golden Namgyal Lhatse, is one of the most treasured entities of Tawang. Towering at a height of 3000 meters above sea level, the Tawang monastery has been recognized as the second-largest monastery in the world. The monastery is believed to be 400 years old and controls 17 gompas in the region. Housing almost 300 monks, the monastery also gives a breathtaking view of the Tawang Chu valley. The quintessential feature of the monastery is however the 8-meter high statue of Lord Buddha which will captivate you without a doubt.
Having been built about 400 years ago, the Tawang monastery has a rich history of it. The three-storeyed building was founded by Merak Lama Lodge Gyamtso to complete the wish of Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, the 5th Dalai Lama in 1860-61. It belonged to the Gelugpa sect of Buddhism and had a religious association with the Drepung Monastery of Lhasa, which continued during the period of British rule. The artwork and the stunning interiors of the main temple will leave you mesmerized. The paintings, ancient scriptures in the library, the brilliance in architecture and the vibrant festivals are all the more reasons why a visit to the Tawang Monastery is a must.
3. Visit Madhuri Lake
Arunachal Pradesh can boast of several beautiful lakes but rest assured nothing they all pale in comparison to the breathtaking Madhuri lake. The palatial mountains that surround the lake just add to the splendor of the great Madhuri lake. Located at a height of 12000 ft above sea level, Madhuri lake is beautified by the addition of towering trees in its banks. The serene beauty, tucked between the towering hills is an ideal place for people craving solitude and calmness. It is least surprising that this iconic location attracts a lot of city dwellers. It also holds a very special place in the hearts of Buddhists of both India and nearby Tibet who come here every year to pray. A splash of water on your face and you feel a rejuvenation like never before. A visit to the Tawang lake is something to be not missed.
4. Visit Nuranang Falls
Untouched, unperturbed, and unexplored. These three words describe the Nuranang falls of Tawang perfectly. This pristine beauty is still unexplored and lesser-known to the outside world. A spectacular waterfall, Nuranang with its splendid view of white sheets of falls cascading from a height of 100 meters is all enough reason to visit this enigmatic location. Nuranang Falls is largely unknown to the popular tourist trail making it an offbeat and tranquil spot.
The crystal clear water is ideal for swimming and a dip in this amazing falls is all you need for refreshment and rejuvenation. The lush greens nearby and the caressing hilltops yonder will give present you with a delightful experience that you can cherish for eternity. If you are a shutterbug, then you are in luck, nothing beats the view of Nuranang falls and is something to be etched in memory and frames. At the falls, you can visit the Hydel plant which generates electricity for the nearby areas from the force of the waterfalls. Nuranang fall is a great place to have a glimpse if nothing of the great beauty of Arunachal. Arunachal Pradesh is cold almost all year round and thus the best period to visit is from February till November.
While you’re at it, carry some woolens, it might come in handy.
5. Visit Tawang War Memorial
A 40- foot high multi-hued memorial, Tawang War Memorial dedicated to the war heroes of the Indian Army of Sino-India war in 1962. Also known as Namgyal Chorten, Overlooking the Tawang-Chu valley, this memorial was constructed to remember the sacrifices made by the soldiers of the Indian Army. Dalai Lama visited this memorial in the year 1997. Visitors can spot the names of soldiers (on granite plates), 2420 in number, who sacrificed their lives during the war at the Kameng sector. Tawang War Memorial is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Arunachal Pradesh without a doubt.
The war memorial has two rooms on each side. The first room contains maps, photographs, artifacts, etc of the war heroes and the other is sound and light showroom, telling the tale of the heroism of the Indian soldiers. There is also a museum displaying the articles that were used at the time of the war, like pots, bullet, guns, helmet, mugs, etc. There are also newspaper cuttings and maps too, pin-pointing at the placements of both the armies.
6. Visit Gorichen Peak
Gorichen’s peak is Arunachal Pradesh’s highest peak and is situated between Tawang and West Kameng. Towering at a height of 22,500 ft from sea level, Gorichen peak is roughly 164 kilometers from Tawang. The peak is locally known as Sa-Nga Phu, which means the Kingdom of Deity. Which is considered to be one of the sacred peaks protecting them from all the evils according to the local Monpa tribe. The place is the best place to engage in a trek. The mesmerizing views of the palatial mountain and the verdant greens of the Himalayas makes it the best trekking and mountaineering spot.
7. Taste The Exotic Cuisines of Tawang
Like most north-eastern regions, momos and Thukpa are delicacies you will find aplenty in Tawang. Apart from this, you can try out the traditional Monpa cuisine. This dish has a lot of chilies and is quite flavourful. So if you are someone who loves spicy food, Monpa is something you simply must try. Also try out the authentic dishes of Tawang like Zan, Khura, and Gyapa Khazi. If you want to taste these authentic delicacies, you must try them out at the local food joints rather than mainstream restaurants. Also, you can book one of the hotels in Tawang that have an in-house restaurant. So you can gorge on the authentic cuisine made by locals!
8. Visit to Jaswant Garh
9. Visit to P.T TSO Lake
10. Visit to Urgelling Gompa
HISTORY OF TAWANG
Locals here believe that Tawang derived its name from the Grandiose Tawang Monastery. Perching on the edge of the ridge running along the western part of Tawang Township. Ta means Horse and Wang mean Chosen. As the legend goes, the site of the present Monastery is believed to have been chosen by a horse owned by Mera Lama Lodge Gyatso. Who was searching for an ideal place to set up a monastery but couldn’t. So he decided to pray for the guidance of divine power.
As he opened his eyes after prayer, he found his horse missing. So, he went out searching for his missing horse and found it on the top of a hill known as Tana Mandekhang. Where once stood the palace of King Kala Wangpo. Believing it to be a sign, Mera lama Lodge Gyatso built the monastery with the help of the people. Thus, Mera Lama Lodge Gyatso founded the monastery in late 1681
However, there is also another belief of derivation on the name Tawang. The great treasure revealer, Terton Pemalingpa gave initiations such as Tamdin and Ka-glad, and hence the place came to be known as Tawang. Ta an abbreviation of Tamdin Wang meaning Initiation.
HOW TO REACH TAWANG
The nearest airport from Tawang is located in Tezpur, the Salonibari Airport at a distance of 387 km. The airport is directly connected to Kolkata and Guwahati. In 2014, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh Government started a helicopter facility to connect Tawang and Guwahati. The service is available twice a week.
The best way to reach Tawang through road is via cab or bus services. Arunachal Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) and other private agencies have introduced regular bus services. Most of which connect Tawang to Tezpur, Bhalukpong, Nagaon, etc, and other towns and cities.
The nearest railway station from Tawang is Rangapara Railway Station. It is well connected to major cities and towns of North-east India. About 88 stations are directly connected to Rangapara Railway Station.
SOME TIPS BEFORE VISITING TAWANG
Summer season is the best time to visit Tawang. That is between April and June when the temperature varies between 5 and 25 degrees Celsius. Which is the ideal time to visit Tawang? The days are pleasant and the nights even though colder, is magical. Keep necessary thermals in hand as the climate is a bit cold even during the summer season. For traveling within Tawang, there are several rental cab services available at cheap prices, so make use of it. If you are a foodie, try out the exotic dishes of Tawang. They are simply delicious and you can never get these cuisines back home. Also, the locals are very friendly and welcoming. So if you have any queries regarding the stay and anything else feel free to ask them, they would be more than happy to help.
That’s it, you are ready to embark on a soul-changing trip to the beautiful Tawang. Grab your backpack, Tawang is waiting.