|Elevation||2,669 m (8,757 ft)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Tawang (Hindi: तवांग) is a town situated at an elevation of approximately 3,048 metres (10,000 ft) in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh of India. The area is claimed by both the People's Republic of China as a part of South Tibet and the Republic of India as a part of the North East state of Arunachal Pradesh. The town once served as the district headquarters of West Kameng district, and became the district headquarters of Tawang district when it was formed from West Kameng.
As of the 2011 Indian census, Tawang had a population of 11,202. Males constitute 54% of the population and females constitute 46%. Tawang has an average literacy rate of 63%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 70%, and female literacy is at 55%. In Tawang, 17% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Tawang was historically part of Tibet inhabited by the Monpa people. The Tawang Monastery was founded by the Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang 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.
The 1914 Simla Accord defined the McMahon Line as the new boundary between British India and Tibet. By this treaty Tibet relinquished several hundred square miles of its territory, including Tawang, to the British, but it was not recognised by China. However, the British did not take possession of Tawang and Tibet continued to administer and collect taxes in Tawang. When the British botanist Frank Kingdon-Ward crossed the Sela Pass and entered Tawang in 1935 without permission from Tibet, he was briefly arrested. This drew the attention of the British, who reexamined the Indo-Tibetan border and rediscovered that Tibet had ceded Tawang to British India. Tibet did not repudiate the Simla Accord and the McMahon Line but refused to surrender Tawang, partly because of the importance attached to the Tawang Monastery. In 1938 the British made a cautious move to assert sovereignty over Tawang by sending a small military column under Capt. G.S. Lightfoot to Tawang.
Lightfoot's brief visit elicited a strong diplomatic protest from Tibet but did not cause any territorial change. After the outbreak of the war with Japan in 1941 the government of Assam undertook a number of 'forward policy' measures to tighten their hold on the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) area, which later became Arunachal Pradesh. In 1944 administrative control was extended over the area of the Tawang tract lying South of the Sela Pass when J.P. Mills set up an Assam Rifles post at Dirang Dzong and sent the Tibetan tax-collectors packing. Tibetan protests were brushed aside. However, no steps were taken to evict the Tibetan from the area North of the pass which contained Tawang town.
The situation continued after India's independence but underwent a decisive change in 1950 when Tibet lost its de facto independence and was incorporated into the newly established People's Republic of China. In February 1951, Major Ralengnao 'Bob' Khathing led an Assam Rifles column to Tawang town and took control of the remainder of the Tawang tract from the Tibetans, removing the Tibetan administration.
During the Sino-Indian war of 1962, Tawang fell briefly under Chinese control, but China voluntarily withdrew its troops at the end of the war. Tawang again came under Indian administration, but China has not relinquished its claims on most of Arunachal Pradesh including Tawang.
Visits by Dalai Lama
When the 14th Dalai Lama fled from Tibet to escape from Chinese army, he crossed into India on 30 March 1959 and spent some days at the Tawang Monastery before reaching Tezpur in Assam on 18 April. Tawang Monastery is said to be the biggest Buddhist monastery in the world outside of Lhasa, Tibet.
Until 2003, the Dalai Lama said that Arunachal Pradesh was "actually part of Tibet". He reversed his position in 2008, acknowledging the legitimacy of the McMahon Line and the Indian claim to the region.
The nearest airports are at Salonibari Airport in Tezpur, and Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati, which are roughly 14 hour drive from Tawang. By road Tawang is 262 kilometres (163 mi) from Bhalukpong, 319 kilometres (198 mi) from Tezpur, 320 kilometres (200 mi) from Missamari, 383 kilometres (238 mi) from Nagaon, 381 kilometres (237 mi) from East Kameng, 390 kilometres (240 mi) from Udalguri, 402 kilometres (250 mi) from Dhula, 408 kilometres (254 mi) from Paneri, 440 kilometres (270 mi) from Itanagar and 502 kilometres (312 mi) from Sagali and is well connected with buses run by APSRTC and some private travel services. Tawang has no railway and the nearest railway station is at Tezpur, which is connected to the all major cities of Assam. A broadgauge railway line connecting Missamari in Assam with Tawang is proposed; a survey for the line was sanctioned in 2011 and work is due to commence shortly.
Tawang Monastery was founded by the Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso in accordance to the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is the largest Buddhist monastery in India. The name Tawang (Tibetan: རྟ་དབང་, Wylie: Rta-dbang) means Horse Chosen. It is said to be the biggest Buddhist monastery in the world outside of Lhasa, Tibet. It is a major holy site for Tibetan Buddhists as it was the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. It is also famous for Snowfall which occurs every year during December-January.
Visitors to Tawang require special Inner Line permits from the government which are available in Kolkata, Guwahati, Tezpur, and New Delhi. Most of the travel from the plains is on a steep hill road journey, crossing Sela Pass at 4,176 metres (13,701 ft). Tourists can travel to Tawang from Tezpur, Assam by road. Tezpur has direct flights from Kolkata. Guwahati, Assam, is 16 hours by road. In Oct 2014, two times a week helicopter service from Guwahati was started by the Arunachal Pradesh government.
There is also a ski lift in town.
- Maxwell, Neville (1970). India's China War. New York: Pantheon. p. 65. ISBN 9780224618878.
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- Shakya (1999), p. 279.
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- India's China War by Neville Maxwell (Anchor Books, 1972),page 66
- India's China War by Neville Maxwell (Anchor Books, 1972),pp.384–502
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- Buddhist monks lead insular lives in India
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- Thousands flock to see Dalai Lama in Indian state.
- "Defence Ministry allots 4 more strategic rail lines to NE". newsbharati. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Tawang District: The Land of Monpas
- Young Buddhist monks lead insular lives in India
- "Tourists overjoyed as Tawang receives Seasons's 1st Snowfall". Biharprabha News. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
- Gyume Dorje. (1999). Footprint Tibet Handbook with Bhutan. Footprint Handbooks, Bath, England. ISBN 0-8442-2190-2.
- Hugh E. Richardson (1984). Tibet & Its History. 1st edition 1962. 2nd edition, Revised and Updated. Shambhala Publications, Boston. ISBN 0-87773-376-7 (pbk).
- Tsering Shakya. (1999). The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet since 1947. Columbia University Press. New York. ISBN 0-231-11814-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tawang.|
- Tawang travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Tawang Travel information
- District website
- East India Hill Stations - Tawang