Tawang district General information

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


The origin of Tawang is obscure. It was a part of the kingdom of Tibet in medieval times. Local tribal rulers governed it from time to time. The British had declared this area as off-limits in 1873. The area around Tawang became a cause of disagreement between India and China, after India gained independence in 1947. The Chinese army invaded Tawang in 1962 but they later withdrew.

      Tawang derived its name from the majestic Tawang Monastery. Perched atop a ridge and surrounded by thick clouds and perennial mist, the Tawang Monastery seems to be suspended from heaven in an equally ethereal space.

 Tawang is a thinly populated mountainous tract lying roughly between the latitude 27 º 45 ’ N and the longitude 90º 15’ E on the Northwest extremity of Arunachal Pradesh. The district is surrounded by the Tibet in the North East, Bhutan in south West and West Kameng district in the south East.


Owing to the rapid changes in the nature of the terrain there are variations in the climatic conditions within short distances. How ever, on the basis of agro-climate parameters such as, Physiography, soil, Climate, Natural Vegetation and prevalent cropping pattern, a major portion of Tawang district falls under Agro-climate sub-region Viz, Higher Himalayan region (Alpine), which experiences snowfall. Remaining of the portion of the district represents sloping mountainous of lesser Himalayan range which experience a cool and pleasant climate.


The topography of the district represents:
1. The snow covered Himalayan ranges from 11,000ft.to 22,000 ft. which mostly include bare mountains and are mostly uninhabited.
2. The high altitude mountainous belt from 6000 ft. to 11000 ft., which contains plateau and narrow valleys and are sparsely, populated.


1.      Total Area                : 2085 Sq. Km.
2.     Total Forest Area       : 1230.Sq. Km.
3.     Total Villages            : 163
4.     Temperature             : Max=29.0 C : Min=(-)5.5 C
5.     Boundary                  : North : Tibet
                                         South : Assam
                                         East : Sela
                                         South west : Bhutan
6.     Main Rivers              : Tawang-Chu and Nyamjang-Chu
7.    Average annual Rainfall     : 2760 mm
8.    Total Population        : 34705
9.     Literacy              : 41.14%
10.   Density of Population      : 16 per sq. Km.
11.   Sex Ratio              : 1000 males per 963 females
12.   Height                     : Sela = 13,000 ft.
                                      :  Tawang =10,000ft.
                                      : Mukto =8,000 ft.
                                     : Thingbu =11,000 ft.
                                     : Lumla = 8,000 ft.
                                     : Zemithang =7,000 ft.

14.     Tribes     : Monpa
15.     Nearest Rail Head      : Bhalukpong = 285 Km
16.     Nearest Airport           : Tezpur = 345 km
17.    Tourist Spot               : Tawang Gompa, Ani Gompa, P.Tso Lake, Sela pass, War Memorial, Jaswant Garh etc.
18.     Main Crops               : Potato, Maize & Millet etc.
19.     Live Stock                 : Yak, Sheep, Pony, Cows & Goats.

Tourist Place

TAWANG MONASTERY:  The famous Galden Namgyal Lhatse, popularly known as Tawang Monastery was founded by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in the year 1680-81. The monastery stands on the spur of a hill, about 10,000 feet above sea level and has ravines in the south and west, narrow ridge on the north and a gradual slope on the east. It offers a commanding and picturesque view of the Tawang-chu valley. From a distance it appears like a fort as if guarding the votaries in the wide valley below. Tawang monastery is the largest of its kind in the country and is one of the largest monasteries in Asia. Though it has the capacity for housing about seven hundred monks, the actual number of resident lamas(monks) at present is a little more than 450. This monastery is the fountain-head of the spiritual life of the people of this region. The approach to the monastery is from the north along the ridge. Just near the entrance to the monastery there is a building housing the dung-gyur mani from where the water is fetched for use in the monastery. To the south of it is the kakaling, the entrance gate. The kakaling is a hut-like structure with its two lateral walls made of stone. It serves as a gate. The ceiling of the kakaling is painted with Kying-khors (Mandalas). The inner walls are painted with mural of divinities and saints. After passing through the kakaling there is a big gate further south which is without any door.

URGELLING MONASTERY: About 5 km to the south of Tawang township stands the Urgelling monastery. It was first of the three monasteries built by Urgen Sangpo, the youngest brother of Terton Pempalingpa, the famous Treasure-Revealer. It was built sometime before the year 1489. It was here in 1683 Tsangyang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama was born. He was the son of Lama Tashi Tenzin of Urgelling, a descendant of Terton Pempalingpa. His mother was Tsewang Lhamo, a monpa girl hailing from a royal family of Bekhar Village. Royal mother experienced a few miracles before the birth of Tsangyang Gyamtso. On day in the first month of her pregnancy she was husking paddy in the stone mortar and to her surprise water started accumulating in the mortar. On another occasion, when she drank water at a near by place, milk started gushing out in place of water. Since then this stream came to known as Oma-tsikang ( milk-water).

In the course of time, she gave birth to a boy who was named Sangey Tenzin by his grandfather and Nawang Norbu by his father. It is said he would not drink his mother's milk for these day after the birth. One day when his face began to swell with an infection and he could hardly open his eye, two local diviners were summoned. They prescribed purifactory rite and said his name should be changed to Ngawang Gyamtso. His recovery was credited by the regent to the intervention of the Dalai Lama's own guardian deity, Dorjee Dakpa. The grandfather dreamt that the child was constantly being protected by heavenly beings. The mother dreamt, as she took a rest from her weaving, that a great company had arrived to take him off. His parental grandmother dreamt of two suns shirring in the sky. It is also said that when the party from Tibet came to take him to Tibet, after establishing that he is the incarnation of the Dalai Lama, the boy was playing with his playmates at a place about a kilometer east of Urgelling Gompa. When he heard his mother shouting for his immediate return he with his finger wrote on a stone slab the words "Lama Kheno" (God Knows). These words got miraculously inscribed on the slab and are still standing on the slab.

After his enthronement, Desi Sangye Gyamtso, the regent entrusted Chong-gye Gonpo Rabten with the work of restoring and enlargement of the monastery in the year 1699. The new structure included a double storied main temple, and eight pillared assembly hall, a four pillared altar room, a two-pillared chapel of protective deities, a residential quarters for the sixth Dalai Lama, a Ka-gyur house, a chapel for the practice of new Tantra, a big courtyard with twenty pillars and twenty rooms for monks' quarters. Unfortunately Lajang Kham deposed the sixth Dalai Lama in 1706 ad in 1714 one of the Lajang Khan's forces sent against Bhutan invaded from the direction of Tawang. During this campaign, they destroyed the Dalai Lama's restored and enlarged monastery at Urgelling as an attempt to obliterate his memory. Another version has it that the destruction of all Nyingnapa Gompas including Urgelling was carried out by Sokpa Jomkhar, a Mongolian warrior who was averse to non-Gelugpa sect. Whatever the reason may be for its destruction, all valued possession of Urgelling monastery like scriptures, statues and other objects were made to Tawang Monastery. It was during this time that the Ka-gyur written out in gold and silver was received by Tawang monastery. Today there is only a modest temple at the site.

GORSAM CHORTEN : The largest Chorten (Stupa) of the area is the one at Gorsam near Zemithang, which is about 100kms away in the north of Tawang. Lama Pradhar, a Monpa monk, constructed it most probably in the early part of eighteenth century. The hemispherical dome rests upon a three-terraced plinth. Four miniature stupas are set on the four corners of the lower most terrace of the plinth. The base is square with each side about 170ft. in length, with a niche running all along its whole length and 120 manis are set in frames of wood in the niche of each of the base. A paved path goes all around for the pilgrims for circumambulation.

TAKTSANG MONASTERY (Tiger's Den ): Tak-Tsang Gonpa, serenely situated about 50kms away from the Township, is believed to be hallowed by the visit of Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century A.D. Beautiful hills snow-capped peaks surround the place. This is one of the oldest monastery of the district.

OLDBAZAR GOMPA: It is situated at the heart of the Tawang Township. It is beleived that in the olden days the place where the present Gompa stands was popular known as "Massamg Key-ling Boothmey" which means a place where a strongman of a society used to play a melodious sounds with the flutes. With the passage of time a Gompa was built in that particular place.

RIGYALLING GOMPA: It is situated at a distance of 1 Km from Tawang township. The Gompa is constructed by the former Rigya Rimpoche. After his death, chang-sey, the secretay took charge of the Gompa. The re-incarnated Rigya Rimpoche, Rev.Tenzin Tsedhar is presently in South-India, completing his education. This Gompa is surrounded by a thick plantation of tress planted by 'Changsey' under the guidance and supervision of forest department, Tawang. The 'Changsey' is probably the first architect of green landscaping in Tawang District. His efforts transformed the place into growing greenery. Driven by the love for nature, creation of new, he started his plantation from the year 1979. The species which dots his backyard are both the local as well as the exotic ones. Now every house hold looks for the crown species called Crytomeria Joponica, popularly known as Rigilling 'Sheng', introduced by the "Changsey". Other notable species planted by him are Blue Pine, fir, popular Salix, Oak, Thoza etc.

These include legendary Ganga Lake (Gyakar Sinyi). It is a beautiful picnic spot, 6 kms away from Itanagar, a green forest lake surrounded by primeval vegetation, orchids masses on tall trees, tree ferns provides a small taste of the magnificent forests of the state.

Consecrated by the Dalai Lama, the Buddhist temple, a beautiful yellow roofed shrine reflects the extensive Tibetan influence and provides good views of Itanagar and the surrounding countryside. Jawaharlal Nehru State Museum provides a kaleidoscope of Arunachal Pradesh and one can see wood carvings, musical instruments, textiles, handicrafts and archeological finds, while a workshop in the Handicrafts Centre specializes in traditional cane manufacture. It has a library section also. Other important places of interest around Itanagar is Donyi-Polo Vidya Bhawan a Premier Publics School, North-Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology(Nirjuli) - a engineering insitute providing innovative way of education, Arunachal University (Doimukh) and Government Piggery and Poultry Farm (Nirjuli), Indira Gandhi Park(Itanagar). For conducted tours please contact tourist operators.

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