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Tawang Monastery, Bomdila

Tawang Monastery Overview

A Picturesque Location Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso founded the famous "Galden Namgyal Lhatse", popularly known as Tawang Monastery in the year 1860-61. The monastery stands on the spur of a hill, about 10,000 feet above sea level and has ravines in the south and west, narrow ridge on the north and a gradual slope on the east. It offers a commanding and picturesque view of the Tawang-Chu valley. From a distance it appears like a fort as if guarding the votaries in the wide valley below. Tawang monastery is the largest of its kind in the country and 2nd largest in Asia. Though it has the capacity for housing about seven hundred monks, the actual number of resident Lamas (Monks) at present is a little more than 300. This monastery is the fountainhead of the spiritual life of the people of this region. Approach And The Entrance The approach 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. The Kakaling is 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 inner 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 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. 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. Assembly Hall - Dukhang 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 inner walls of the Dukhang are painted with murals of various divinities and saints. The altar occupies the entire northern wall of the hall. On the left of the alter is the silver casket wrapped in silk containing the Thankas (also spelt as Tankas or Thangkas) of Goddess Sri Devi ("Palden Lhamo") the principal deity of the monastery, which was given to Merak Lama by the Vth Dalai Lama. The Thankas was painted with blood drawn from the nose of the Vth Dalai Lama. The said painting came to be known as "Ja-Droi-ma", which means it had warmth of a bird, which symbolized that the Thanka was of a living type. A colossal richly - gilded statue of Lord Buddha occupies the middle of the northern side. It is seated on a platform and its body, rising up, terminates in a huge head above the first floor. It is the largest image of the monastery and is about 26 feet high. A Buddhist Cultural Centre The monastery also has a Centre for Buddhist Cultural Studies where young monks are taught Arithmetic, English, and Hindi besides traditional monastic education. In brief, this monastery is simply awe-inspiring and majestic in its appearance and grandeur. A visit of Tawang Monastery is most spiritually refreshing experience. The Tawang Monastery also known as "Galden Namgyal Lhatse" was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyamtso in the year 1860-61 AD. The Tawang Monastery stands on the sart of hill, about 10,000ft above sea level and has ravines in the south and west, narrow ridge on the north and a gradual slope on the east. It offers an imposing and picturesque view of the Tawang -Chu valley. The 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. The 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. 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. The Kakaling is 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 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. 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 The monastery also has 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. Journey to The Tawang Monastery There is no airport or railhead in Tawang. Tezpur is the closest place, which offers an airport. Staying near the Tawang Monastery Some accommodations are available at Tawang for the tourists. you may not come across luxury accommodations. Famous for its 400 year old Buddhist monastery. The monastery was founded by a monk, Mera Lama, a contemporary of the fifth Dalai Lama. Before the establishment of the Monastery, Tawang was a centre of Tantric religion. The Tawang Monastery is also known as the 'Galden Namgyal Lhatse'. Tawang predominantly a Buddhist centre appears as the last link with the civilization with its modern sloped houses, a thriving bazaar, satellite communication and all the other amenities of modern life.Beyond it lies the forbidden land of Tibet to the north, connected by the Bum La and Tulung La passes. 400 year old famous Buddhist Monastery locally called Gompa, PT.TSO lake, Sangester lake, Gorsham Chorten about 700 years old, Nuranang falls, Singsar Ani Gompa(a nunnery still being runs by nuns), Craft Centre producing very fine woolen carpets of colourful designs and marks etc. Ideal for Trekking and Hiking Festivals Lossar in February/March. Date to be fixed in consultation with Buddhist Calender. Clothing Heavy woolens in winter and light woollens in summer Tawang, the land of the Monpa tribes and a major centre of the Mahayana Buddhist is the headquarters of Tawang district. The township stands on the spur of a hill over 12,000 ft. above the sea level. Tawang is famous for its 400 years old Buddhist Monastery locally called Gompa which is the largest of it's kind in India and controls 17 Gompas in the region. The Tawang Monastery is associated with the famous Torgva festival which is held in the eleventh Monpa month called the Dawa Chukchipah(i.e Dec-Jan as per the Buddhist). Head-Priest of Tawang Monpa Tribe The Tibetan influence here is unmistakable, with the elaborately painted wooden windows and other motifs. Prayer flags flutter in the breeze outside. The most imposing part of the monastery is the three storied assembly hall which houses the temple and the 8 mtr. high gilded statue of Lord Buddha. A must visit is the craft centre which produces very fine woollen carpets of colourful designs and masks. On the way to Tawang lies the World's Second highest motorable pass, the Sela Pass at 14,000 feet which runs through a small ridge and along a placid lake called the Paradise lake, in India.

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