Buddhism in the land of Monpas (Tawang)

Buddhism in the land of Monpas (Tawang)


With the first rays of the sun falling on this part of the land, Arunachal Pradesh is one of the most beautiful states of the country. And in this magnificent lands surrounded by the eastern Himalayas, Tibetan Buddhism has survived for ages and has progressed beautifully retaining its true essence.

Tawang, a district of Arunachal Pradesh is the also the birthplace of the holy Dalai Lama VI. The hilly destination surrounded by the picturesque glacial lakes has a culture of its own. The name Tawang is derived from the Monpa dialect “Ta” meaning horse and “Wang” meaning green pastures.

Before the advent of Buddhism in the region, the people followed a religion that was in the form of Shamanism, usually referred to as Bon. With the advent of Buddhism, the people gave up their own religion and adopted Buddhism. But like the Tibetans, the Monpas did not completely replace their own religion. They absorbed a number of their deities in the Buddhist Pantheon while following the Buddhist rituals.

In this trip, you will visit the mystical land of the Tawang, explore the unhindered natural beauty of the place while soaking in the spirituality.

And while you explore the Buddhism in Tawang, also get mesmerized by the stunning landscape of the land. The journey is beautiful as you undergo the twists and turns in the road. There are numerous waterfalls on the road that will surely fill your heart with pleasure.

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1 | Start of the journey (Guwahati – Nameri National Park) 

Welcome to Guwahati, the gateway to Northeast India. From Guwahati, you will drive to Nameri National Park (7 – 8 hours), one of the most scenic national parks of India. Spend the rest of the day in leisure.

Day 2 | Call of the Wild (Nameri – Sangti)

Go for an early guided jungle walk for bird watching. Nameri is a birders’ paradise with around 300 species of birds in the national park. If you are lucky, you might view bison, deer and elephants too. After breakfast, leave for Sangti Village (8 – 9 hours), a picturesque village of the Monpa tribe. Enroute, you will visit the Tipi Orchid Centre that has a variety of orchid species.

Stay at a homestay that will provide you with the basic amenities and you will get a glimpse of the life of the local Monpa tribe.

Day 3 | A day amidst history and heritage (Sangti – Thembang – Sangti)

Spend the day exploring the village, its landscape, people, culture and tradition. Today, you will visit Thembang, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Thembang is a village citadel and is the host to several ancient and historical structures and the main attraction of the place is the fortified Dzong constructed using the traditional technology of the region. Explore the place at your leisure and get to know about the lifestyle and tradition of the tribes.

After lunch, you can take a visit to Dirang hot water spring, the Yak Centre and regional sheep farm.

Day 4 | A beautiful Journey (Sangti – Tawang)

After breakfast, start towards Tawang (8 – 9 hours), the beautiful Buddhist highland. Enroute Tawang, you will cross Jaswant Garh, the mighty Sela Pass and the beautiful Sela Lake. You can also proceed to Nuranang and to get a glimpse of the mighty Jung Falls.

Day 5 | The land of Monasteries – Tawang

This day will be spent visiting the monasteries and nunnery at Tawang. The first stop will be the Tawang Monastery, the world’s second largest practising Buddhist Monastery. Next visit the Urgelling Monastery, Khinmey Monastery and the Thuk Choening Nunnery. Visit the local markets and the art and craft centre. In the evening, you can leisurely visit the market and enjoy delicious Tibetan cuisines.

Day 6 | The beautiful landscape (Tawang)

Visit the Zemithang village, a scenic village belonging to the Monpa tribe. The village is located in the secluded region of the Himalayas near the tri-border to Bhutan and Tibet. The village is a perfect example of traditional Monpa living where nature provides everything for a living. Return to Tawang for an overnight stay.

Alternatively, you can visit the famous Madhuri Lake and the numerous other lakes of Tawang. You can also visit the Chinese frontier Bumla Border. (Foreign Nationals are not allowed here).

Day 7 | The panoramic town (Tawang – Bomdila)

Drive from Tawang to Bomdila(5 – 6 hours), a scenic town that offers breathtaking views of mountains and the valleys. Visit the monasteries at Bomdila and the local market.

Day 8 | Bidding adieu to Arunachal Pradesh (Bomdila – Tezpur)

You can visit the monastery early in the morning to view the morning rituals of the monks. After breakfast, return to Tezpur (7 – 8 hours) in the plains of Assam. Evening can be spent by going for Tezpur local sightseeing.

Day 9 | Goodbyes and good memories (Tezpur – Guwahati )

You can go for an early morning sight-seeing of the beautiful Tezpur town. After breakfast, leave for Guwahati (5 – 6 hours).

About The Author

NE Wanderer

We are a bunch of outdoor enthusiasts who have fallen in love with the exotic and unending beauty of northeast India. We are trying to bridge the gap between the northeast and the rest of the world by sharing experiences about the lifestyle of the indigenous people, stories and fables about their land and tribes, their colourful culture and exotic cuisines.


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