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Tawang Town

Tawang Town with Tawang Monastery in background Birthplace of 6th Dalai Lama, Urgelling Monastery, near Tawang Town Tawang (, ) is a town situated at an elevation of approximately in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh of India. The area is claimed by both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China as a part of South Tibet. The town once served as the district headquarters of West Kameng district, and became the district headquarters of Tawang district when it was formed from West Kameng.



Tawang town is located approximately from Guwahati. Tawang has an average elevation of .


As of the 2001 India census,[1] Tawang had a population of 38,924. Males constitute 54% of the population and females constitute 46%. Tawang has an average literacy rate of 63%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 70%, and female literacy is at 55%. In Tawang, 17% of the population is under 6 years of age.


The 8m tall statue of the Sakyamuni Buddha in the Tawang Monastery. Tawang Monastery was founded by the Mera Lama Lodre Gyasto in accordance to the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is the largest Buddhist monastery in India. The name Tawang () means Horse Chosen.[2][2] It is said to be the biggest Buddhist monastery in the world outside of Lhasa, Tibet.[3] It is a major holy site for Tibetan Buddhists as it was the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama.[4]

Tipi Orchid sanctuary in Tawang houses thousands of varieties of orchids.

Visitors to Tawang require special Inner line permits from the government which are available in Kolkata, Guwahati, Tezpur, and New Delhi. Most of the travel from the plains is on a steep hill road journey, crossing Sela Pass .

Tourists can travel there from Tezpur, Assam, which is 12 hours by road. Tezpur has direct flights from Kolkata. Guwahati, Assam, is 16 hours by road. In June 2008, a daily helicopter service from Guwahati was started by the Arunachal Pradesh government.

Road travel to Tawang from Tezpur, Assam, is by buses, private taxis and shared taxis. It is an arduous journey: most of the road is loose tarmac and gravel giving way to mud in many places. However, it is a scenic journey of nearly 12 hours, crossing Bomdila Pass 2,438 metres (8,000 feet), peaking at Sela Pass 4,176 metres (13,700 feet), Jaswant Garh and, finally, Tawang. Government buses often break down (usually on the way up) and passengers end up hitchhiking in private cars and taxis . En route, local food is available, especially meat and vegetarian momos and cream buns.

When the 14th Dalai Lama fled from Tibet, he crossed into India on 30 March 1959 and spent some days resting at Tawang Monastery before reaching Tezpur in Assam on 18 April.[5] Tawang Monastery is said to be the biggest Buddhist monastery in the world outside of Lhasa, Tibet.[6]

Political importance

In 1914, the McMahon line was drawn by the British and Tawang was included into India from Tibet (see Simla Accord (1914)). It came under effective Indian administration on 12 February 1951, when Major R Khating led Indian Army troops to relocate Chinese squatters. The takeover was informed to Tibetan authorities but not to PRC. India assumed sovereignty of the territory and established democratic rule therein to end the oppression of the Monpa. Elections have taken place regularly and the democratic state legislature elected peacefully.

During the 1962 Sino-Indian War, the Chinese army temporarily occupied Tawang. The last stand of Mahavir Chakra awardee Jaswant Singh Rawat took place in Tawang. After the voluntary withdrawal of Chinese troops, Tawang once again came under Indian administration. In recent years, China has occasionally voiced its claims on Tawang. India has rebutted these claims by Chinese government and the Indian prime minister has stated categorically that Tawang is an integral part of India. He repeated this to the Chinese prime minister when the two prime ministers met in Thailand in October 2009.

China objected to the visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang in November 2009 though the Dalai Lama had previously visited Tawang several times since he left Tibet in 1959. India rejected the Chinese objection and said that the Dalai Lama was an honoured guest in India and could visit any place in India. The Dalai Lama visited Tawang on 8 November 2009. About 30,000 persons including those from neighbouring countries, Nepal and Bhutan, attended his religious discourse.[7]

He was received and welcomed by the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh and the people of Arunachal Pradesh. The residents of Tawang painted their houses and decorated the town.[8]

Military importance

Tawang is the base for Parvat Ghatak Commando School, one of Indian Army's elite high altitude warfare training schools. Several domestic and international units have been trained in high altitude special operations at this school.



  1. a b
  2. Young Buddhist monks lead insular lives in India
  3. The Times of India Tawang is part of India: Dalai Lama
  4. Richardson (1984), p. 210.
  5. Buddhist monks lead insular lives in India
  6. Thousands flock to see Dalai Lama in Indian state.

External links

bn: de:Tawang es:Tawang fr:Tawang gu: hi: bpy: id:Tawang it:Tawang mr: nl:Tawang (plaats) ru: vi:Tawang zh:

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