Tawang is a town in the Himalayas in the far west of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in North-Eastern India. The second-largest Buddhist monastery (gompa) in the world is here, and was built in 1681.

Tawang town and monastery

. . . Tawang . . .

Tawang has a population of 11,000 and is the administrative headquarters of Tawang district.

The town is about a 16-hour drive from Guwahati. However, it is best to hire a Tata Sumo from Tezpur in Assam (4 hr. drive from Guwahati). From Tezpur you go to Bhalukpong (border of Assam and Arunachal), where Indian and non-Indian tourists have to show a permit, easily obtainable at either Guwahati or Tezpur, and proceed to a beautiful and rough drive up the mountains. It is advisable to break your journey at either Bomdila or better still, the charming little valley town of Dirang. Sela Pass is notoriously difficult and heavy snowfall (during season) could force you to stay on either side.

As of October 2010, sections of the road after Balipara (where you divert from NH52) is work in progress and you will find mud roads with stones which are unpleasant to ride on. After Bhalukpong, BRO is widening the roads so expect slushy roads for around 15 km (9 mi). If you love your motorbike, travel by a taxi/bus from Tezpur.

Getting around in Tawang can be divided into two categories. The first one is travel to local sites like Tawang Monastery, War Memorial, Emporium, etc. This can be done by booking a taxi (mostly Maruti OMNI) for half a day. The second one is travel to sites outside Tawang, which include P T So lake, Shungetsar (Madhuri) lake and a visit to India-China border at Bumla. A bigger vehicle like a Tata Sumo or Mahindra Bolero should be hired for this, as roads are in bad shape. An entire day is enough to cover these sites.

An icon of Sakyamuni Buddha in the Tawang Monastery
  • Tawang Monastery. A Tibetan Buddhist gompa (fortified monastery) of the Gelugpa sect that was constructed in 1681. It is the second-largest Buddhist monastery in the world and home to more than 500 lamas (monks). The celebrated 6th Dalai Lama was born here.
  • Jaswant Garh or Tawang War Memorial. A large, impressive Indian Army memorial, commemorating hundreds of soldiers who fought in the 1962 war against the Chinese. Jaswant Singh Rawat, who along with two other soldiers fought the Chinese Army invading Tawang, during the battle of Nuranang. Rfn. Jaswant Singh Rawat was posthumously awarded with the Mahavir Chakra. His two colleagues L Nk. Trilok Singh Negi, along with Rfn Gopal Singh Gusain, were awarded with the Vir Chakra.
  • Nuranang Falls, also called Jang Falls or Bong Bong Falls. A beautiful and spectacular waterfall about a kilometre (0.6 mi) from the town of Jang.
  • P.T.Tso Lake. Situated above Tawang, the lake is frozen for 4–5 months of the year. You can hire a local vehicle to get there. The lake itself is splendid, and the views from it are unbelievable.
  • Anni Gompa. A Buddhist monastery managed by nuns. Anni means nun. You need to request your guide or taxi driver to take you there.
  • Madhuri Lake or Shungetsar Lake. Named after Madhuri Dixit, a famous Bollywood actress.
  • Tibetan Medical Dispensary. It is a short distance from main Tawang. A doctor of Tibetan medicine examines you and prescribes Tibetan medicines.
  • Walk around the charming town.

. . . Tawang . . .

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