Tawang, the world of mystics and enchanting
beauties, forms the westernmost district of Arunachal Pradesh. It is
located at a soaring height of nearly 10, 000 ft above MSL and shares
it's boundaries with Tibet (China) in the north, Bhutan in the south
east and West Kameng in the east.
The operation of a M1-172 helicopter to
offer regular passenger flight service on the Guwahati(Assam) - Tawang
sector has been approved by the GOI (Minister of Home Affairs).
Tawang is believed to have derived its name from
the grandiose Tawang Monastery perched on the edge of the ridge running
along the western part of Tawang township. 'Ta' means Horse and 'Wang'
means chosen. As the legend has it, the site of the present monastery is
believed to have been chosen by a horse owned by Merag Lama Lodre
Gyamtso. Merag Lama Lodre Gyamtso, who was on a search for an
appropriate place to establish the Monastery was unable to locate any
appropriate site so, finally, he decided to sit in prayer for guidance
of a divine power. As he opened his eyes after his prayers, he found his
horse missing. So, wearily he went out searching for his horse and found
it on the top of the hill-lock known as Tana Mandekhang where once stood
a palace of King Kala Wangpo.
Believing it to be a good omen, Merag Lama Lodre Gyamtso decided to
initiate the work for building up of a monastery with the help of people
living across the land of Monpas. This Monastery was founded by Merag
Lama Lodre Gyamtso in late 1681 according to the wishes of the 5th Dalai
Lama. However, it is also believed that the great Treasure Revealer,
Terton Pemalingpa gave initiations such as Tamdin and Ka-gyad and hence
the place came to be known as Tawang. (Ta- an abbreviation of Tamdin;
Wang means initiation. This land is also known as 'Monyul" because of
the low lying land dwelled by Monpas.
Descendents of Mongoloid race, the Monpas are
Buddhist by religion and Tawang monastery is the fountain head of their
spiritual lives. The spread of Buddhism in the area started with the
arrival of Guru Padrnasambhava, the great Indian Saint in 8th century.
The Monpa tribe is predominant of Gelukpa sects of Mahayana stream of
Buddhism. Before they embrace Buddhism they were the believers of "Bon"
faith characteristic of spirit worship and animal sacrifice. The Monpas
are by and large agriculturists. Unlike most of the tribes of North-East
who practice Jhumming (Shifting Agriculture), they follow the terrace
form of cultivation. They also tame yak, sheep and other livestock. The
Monpa society is monogamous by law but polygamy and polyandry is also
seen prevalent. They live in cozy double storied residential houses
constructed of stone blocks, bamboo ceiling, curved wooden doors and
window frames. The Monpas are courteous, friendly, hardworking and above
all very hospitable It is quite apparent that their religion has an
impeccable influence on their demeanor. Their traditional dresses are as
colourful and vibrant as the people.