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Tour de la Tawang

A splash of vibrant colors and majestic architecture among luxuriant green and rocky crags. Quite a sight, straight out of an artist’s canvas. However, the hillocks of Arunachal Pradesh offers a vista no less breathtaking and for witnessing the same one needs to go no further than the Tawang Monastery. Standing erect atop a gradual slope and with ravines running down south, Tawang Monastery is an embodiment of imposing construction paired with historical grandeur.

Perched at about 10,000 feet above sea level, Tawang Monastery accords a picturesque view of the eponymous township surrounding it. One of the oldest edifices of Asia, the Tawang Monastery is significant not only as a major tourist landmark of the region but also as a repository of rich and splendid cultural heritage. When sighted from a distance, Tawang Monastery gives the impression of a fort embellishing the scenery of the quaint little habitation. The Tawang Monastery commands a length of 925 feet and is 20 feet high on an average. Home to about 500 monks, the Tawang Monastery is the spiritual fountain-head of this region.

While the northward entry to the monastery is along a ridge, to the south is a kakaling or an entrance portal. The kakaling is a hut like structure comprising two lateral stone wall forming a gate. The ceilings of the kakaling are decorated with murals of deities and saints. The portal, thereon leads to the a paved path which ends in a stone slabs court. Religious ceremonies are all conducted in this very vicinity with much pomp and show. The eastern flank of the compound is the residential quarters of the monks whereas the western part is the three storied building which serves as the par-khang or the library. It also houses the refreshment area called Rhum-Khang. The most striking part of the monastery is the assembly hall called Dukhang. It is a three storied structure, home to the template and the establishment of the abbot.The seminal attraction of this part of the compound are the wall engravings of peerless finesse and brilliance. The altar stands upon a pedestal, wrapped in silver. At the middle of the precinct sits a colossal statue of the Buddha, gilded in gold. The magnificence of the structure enhances the spectacle of the entire area by several degrees. Such intricate and refined aesthetics, renders the Tawang Monastery one of the most majestic religious constructions of the world.

Where art meets religious fervor and where outer beauty enjoins the beauty of the soul is what the Tawang Monastery spreads out.The confluence of visual beauty and spiritual refinement is a unique attribute of this monastery. Effectually awe-inspiring in its appearance and glory, this monastery is also a spiritually refreshing experience. Thus, if one stops short of exploring this seat of architectural and soulful luminosity among the many soirees in and around the captivating Arunachal Hills, then much would remain unseen and unfelt to them.

Contributed by Yashaswini Basu

An incorrigible wanderlust and a round the clock munchies for chocolate chip cookies, besides the quintessential bengali appetite for sweets are just few of the many quirks that define me. When not fantasizing about the next tour location or bugging my friends with glossy implausible plans of the same, you may find me in the english honours classrooms at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University. Hopefully these travelogues will do so good as to give a pleasurable moment or two to those who'd care to spare a read.