Tawang district

Tawang district

Infobox Indian Jurisdiction
type = district
native_name = Tawang
hq = Tawang Town
area_total = 2085
area_total_cite =cref|‡
latd = 27.50
longd = 91.85
locator_position = left
state_name = Arunachal Pradesh
altitude = 3500
abbreviation = IN-AR-TA
collector = Shri T. T. Gamdik, IAS
population_total = 38924
population_as_of = 2001
population_density = 16
website = tawang.nic.in
footnotes = cnote|‡|Arunachal Pradesh is also claimed by the People's Republic of China.

Tawang district is an administrative district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh in India. Tawang Town is the district headquarters.

Geography and Administration

The Tawang district is roughly located around latitude 27 º 45’ N and longitude 90º 15’ E at the northwest extremity of Arunachal Pradesh. Elevations range between 6,000 to 22,000 feet, and inhabitants are found in lower altitude, where they enjoy a cool temperate climate.

The district was carved out of the West Kameng district, that adjoins it to the south and east. Bhutan borders Tawang to the west whereas Tibet Autonomous Region, China is to the north of the Line of Actual Control. The district occupies an area of 2085 square kilometers and has a population of 38,924 (as of 2001), almost 75% of which are considered "tribal", i.e. belonging to the native Monpa, Bhotia, Adi etc. [http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Dist_File/datasheet-1201.pdf] It is unclear, though, as well as unlikely whether these figures include Indian army personnel. The sensitivity to the border area where the 1962 conflict saw a quick defeat of the Indian army, brings Tawang a heavy military presence.In winter, Tawang frequently experiences heavy snowfall. [ [http://www.newkerala.com/news4.php?action=fullnews&id=71773 Snowfall forces Advani to call off visit to Tawang] ]

The district is administered by the current MP, Shri Kiren Rijiju. Tawang district is further sub-divided into the Lumla, Jang and Tawang sub-divisions. The district itself has 3 principal monasteries as well.


A sizeable population of 20,000 live in Tawang town. The dominant ethnic group are the Monpa, who inhabit 162 out of 163 villages. The Tibetan are also found in small scattered numbers throughout Tawang, but their main concentration is in the village of Shyo, which houses about 90 Tibetan families. The Takpa, a small tribal group, are found in small, scattered numbers in the West and the North. [ [http://www.hvk.org/hvk/articles/0803/112.html About Tawang] ] . [ [http://www.dailypioneer.com/displayit1.asp?pathit=/index_archives/oped/opd3652.txt Injustice in India's east] ] [ [http://arunachalphed.nic.in/map/twang.htm PHED Map] ]

Most of the people, which includes the Monpa, Takpa and the Tibetans, are Tibetan Buddhist by religion. Pre-Buddhist Bön and Shamanist influence is also evident. Festivals that include Losar, Choskar, Torgya are held annually. The Dungyur is also celebrated in every three years of the Torgya. Both the Dungyur and Torgya festivals are celebrated at the premises of the Tawang Monastery with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm.


Most of the tribes depend on agriculture for a living. Owing to its cold weather, farmers breed yak and sheep herds, although in lower altitudes crops are planted as well.


Prior to the construction of the Tawang monastery, Tawang was traditionally inhabited by the Monpa people, who reigned the Mon kingdom that stretches from Tawang right up to Sikkim. The Mon kingdom was later absorbed into the control of neighbouring Bhutan and Tibet.

The Tawang monastery was founded by the Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1681 in accordance to the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso, and has an interesting legend surrounding its name, which means "Chosen by Horse". The sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, was born in Tawang. Tawang was long one part of Tibet until 1951, and it came under effective Indian administration on February 12, 1951, when Major R Khating led Indian Army troops to relocate Chinese squatters. India assumed sovereignty of the territory and established democratic rule therein [ cite journal | last = Maxwell | first = Neville | title = Settlements and Disputes: China’s Approach to Territorial Issues | journal = Economic and Political Weekly | volume = 41 | issue = 36 | pages = 3876 | date = September 9, 2006 | url = http://www.epw.org.in/articles/2006/09/10532.pdf | accessdate = 2006-09-29 ] to end the oppression of the Monpa. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1952122,00.html Last vestige of old Tibetan culture clings on in remote Indian state | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited ] ]

During the Sino-Indian war of 1962, Tawang was returned to the controle of Tibet. The valiant last stand of Mahavir Chakra awardee Jaswant Singh Rawat took place in Tawang. After the voluntary withdrawal of Chinese troops, Tawang was once again under Indian administration. In recent years, China has occasionally voiced its claims on Arunachal Pradesh, especially Tawang, and Chinese troop incursions continue to occur frequently. According to news reports, the state government was willing to swap territories with China in order to make border adjustments, but it firmly refused to lose out any major towns or monasteries to China. [ [http://www.newkerala.com/news4.php?action=fullnews&id=69360 Minor adjustments possible on give and take basis: BJP] ]

Today, Tawang serves as a center for tourist attractions, thanks to the preserved beauty of the Tawang monastery.


Tawang Monastery

Founded by the Mera Lama Lodre Gyasto in accordance to the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso, The Tawang monastery of the Gelugpa sect is the largest Buddhist monastery in India. The name Tawang means "Chosen Horse". It is also known in another Tibetan name known as Galden Namgey Lhatse, which means a true name within a celestial paradise in a clear night.

Located at an elevation of 10,000 feet (3,300m) in the district capital, Tawang Town, it is home to more than 600 Lamas. It also houses the Parkhang library: a collection of the 400-year-old Kangyurs which consists of 110 volumes with 400-500 pages in each bundle in addition to invaluable manuscripts. Other large collections include the Sutras, Tangym, Sungbhum, old books and other manuscripts, both handwritten and printed, many of them in gold. The collection has a total of 850 bundles. Dances and ceremonial celebrations are held in the courtyard, the most important of which is held on the night of Buddha Purnima.

It also houses a small printing press. The most fascinating part is or the assembly hall - a three-storied building housing the temple and the 8.3-m high Golden Buddha.

In 1706, Lhazang Khan cheated the Chinese Kang Xi Emperor to depose the sixth Dalai Lama. During Langzang Khan's rule in Tibet, he sent an army in 1714 to invade Bhutan from Tawang. In the campaign, they destroyed the Dalai Lama's restored and enlarged monastery at Urgelling as an attempt to obliterate his memorials.

The Tawang monastery is three stories high and occupies an area of 140 square metres and houses 65 residential buildings in addition to the library. It is renovated in 1997 by the Dalai Lama - with renovation meaning that the traditionally built structure was torn down and then rebuilt with concrete.

Other attractions

In addition to the Tawang monastery, the town has a Handicrafts Center, which was started to promote the small-scale industries for local handicrafts. The center has a fine range of woolen carpets and shawls amongst other things. People may also purchase rather inexpensive but good chubbas and shoes.

Sela Top Pass, just adjacent to Tawang rises steeply and is full of snow for most of the year.


External links

* [http://tawang.nic.in/ Tawang District Government Website]
* [http://www.cnnhorizons.com/india/northeast_tawangread.htm Legendary beginnings about the Tawang monastery]
* [http://www.rgj.com/news/printstory.php?id=60172 Buddhism adds richness to the paradise of Tawang]
* [http://www.tribuneindia.com/2004/20040905/spectrum/main4.htm Trekkers’ paradise]
* [http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=10958&t=1&c=1 The lines nations draw]
* [http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=1,2720,0,0,1,0 Young Buddhist monks lead insular lives in India]
* [http://www.destinationsmagazine.com/2006/02/the-mysteries-of-an-unspoiled-place-arunachal-pradesh/ The mysteries of an unspoiled place Arunachal Pradesh]


* [http://community.webshots.com/album/549220356iUkVfL Images of Tawang by rathorems100]
* [http://community.webshots.com/album/523111167gygljO/2 Images of Arunachal Pradesh (and Tawang) by manish2905]
* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/17682298@N04/sets/72157602881301492/]

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