Tourism in Tawang – The stairway to heaven

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If there is one region in Arunachal Pradesh that is breathtaking in its beauty, on which Mother Nature has bestowed upon all of its amazing splendor, would be Tawang. Tawang is nature’s gift to India and if you’re visiting the North-East, no trip is complete without gimpsing what the beauteous region of Tawang has to offer you. Tawang lies 10,000 feet about sea level, is surrounded by mountains on all sides, with vast expanses of green meadows in the middle, crisscrossed in all directions by the clearest and the purest rivers, streams and lakes. Some of the waterfalls in Tawang are a sight for sore eyes. The sight of the setting Sun, seen from one of Tawang’s deep valleys, is a sight to behold and a delight for professional and amateur photographers alike.

The History and Culture of Tawang

Tawang is believed to have been named after the stunning Tawang Gompa, which is perched on the edge of the ridge that runs through the western part of the Tawang township. In tribal dialect, ‘Ta’ means Horse and ‘Wang’ means Chosen. Tawang is situated at an extreme end of India, bordered by China (Tibet) at the North and Bhutan at the South-West. Tawang was a bloody battleground during the India – China war of 1962, when several hundred brave Indian soldiers lost their lives. But since then, the region has been perfectly peaceful and tranquil.

The People of Tawang

The natives of Tawang belong to the Monpa tribe. The Monpas were described by noted English anthropologist, ethnologist and tribal rights activist, Dr. Verrier Elwin as a“gentle, friendly, courteous, industrious, good to animals, good to children. You see in the Monpas the influence of the compassionate Lord Buddha on the ordinary man”. The Monpas are of Mongoloid features, and closer to the people of Tibet in their origin. They are largely peaceful and devout Buddhists.

How to get to Tawang?

To get to Tawang, you shall need to get to Arunachal Pradesh first. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Arunachal Pradesh. The nearest airport to Arunachal’s capital city Itanagar is the Lilabari (North Lakhimpur) Tezpur Airport in Assam. You can get to Arunachal Pradesh by taking a flight from Delhi or Kolkata to this airport, and from there catching a bus to Itanagar. Or, you may to to Harmuty by train and from there catch a private taxi to Itanagar, which is just 10 minutes away. From Itanagar, there are many buses and private taxis that ply to the Tawang town.
Or, you could take advantage of the excellent roads and travel to Tawang all the way from Guwahati or Tezpur. The Guwahati-Tawang bus trip lasts 10-12 hours, while the Tezpur-Tawang route takes a little while longer. The best thing about this trip is that you shall be going through the stunning Sela Pass, which is at a height of 14,000 feet above sea level.

Do you need any permissions to get to Tawang?

Yes. Even if you’re an Indian citizen, you need an Inner Land Permit to visit Arunachal Pradesh and from there, to visit Tawang. If you are a foreign tourist, travelling in a group of more than two persons, you are required to register yourself at the nearest government office in Arunachal Pradesh and get a Protected Area Permit.

What is the best time to visit Tawang?

Just like the rest of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang has a splendid climate all through the year. But the best time to visit it is between October and March, as the climate is particularly salubrious, and there is little possibility of rain.

Best Places to Visit in Tawang

Tawang Gompa: The Tawang Gompa is the second biggest Buddhist monastery in the world and the biggest in India. Indeed, Tawang is said to have derived its name from it. The monastery is an astonishing sight when seen from a distance – a vast stony architecture surrounded on all sides by tall snow-capped mountains. There is a magnificent library in the Tawang Gompa which has a collection of some of the greatest pieces of Buddhist religious literature. The eight feet tall statue of the Buddha is a visual delight that commands respect. The great joy at the Tawang Gompa is particularly infectious during the Buddhist festivals such as the Buddhist Mahotsava, when it abounds in colors and festivities.

Gorichen Peak: The Gorichen Peak is 22,500 feet tall and is frequented by those who love mountaineering and trekking. It presents a great challenge for thrill seekers and those who love a spot of adventure in their lives.

Sela Pass: Called “Heaven on Earth”, the Sela Pass is quite breathtaking, as it is, just like the Khardungla Pass in Ladakh, one of the highest motorable passes in the world, situated at over 14,000 feet above the sea level. Watching the spectacular sights as you travel through the Sela Pass is something tourists remember for the rest of their lives. On the way to the Sela Pass is the Paradise Lake, which fully justifies the name. Watching the Sun set here, is a sight that you will remember for years.

Bumla Pass: Just a 5 hour trek away from Tawang, the Bumla Pass is situated at an altitude of 16,000 feet and not an easy place to navigate for an unfit tourist. But if you are fit and love adventure, then you must trek to the Bumla Pass. The Bumla Pass is particularly famous as several decades ago when the Dalai Lama escaped from China to enter India, he made this pass a part of his escape route.

Shonga-tser Lake: This lovely lake with clear, transparent water is another sight for sore eyes in the Tawang region. It is right in the middle of a snow-capped mountainous area and the scenery here is quite magnificent.

Nuranang Waterfall: The Nuranang Waterfall is a spectacular 100 meter high waterfall, which reminds many foreign tourists of the Niagara Falls in its intensity and because of the roaring sound that it makes.
Bap Teng Kang Waterfall: This is another spectacular waterfall in Tawang. Although not as tall or powerful as the Nuranang Waterfall, the Bap Teng Kang Waterfall, also known as the BTK waterfall is an equal in natural beauty. An added advantage is that you can swim in its clear waters.

Pankang Teng Tso Lake: The best time to visit the Pankang Teng Tso Lake is during winter, when it is fully frozen, and so if you are into skiing, this presents a naturally made track for you.

Taktsang Gompa: This is another great monastery at Tawang which is surrounded by lush green forests and snow-capped mountains on all sides. Tourists who are into meditation and Yoga would love the quietness of this magnificent place.


A self-described travel enthusiast...

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