Tawang Monastery is the social, cultural and spiritual focal point of the entire valley. Perched on a hill, about 10,000 ft above sea level, this monastery is the largest in India and overlooks ravines in the south and the west, a narrow ridge on the north and gradual slope towards the east. In winter, it gets covered during snowfall, adding to its beauty. The majestic monastery can be entered from its northern side through the gate 'Kakaling', a hut-like structure with walls made of stone.

The ceiling or the interior roofs of the Kakaling are painted with Mandalas or the Kying-Khores, while the inside walls have been painted with pictures of saints and divinities. After Kakaling, comes the main gate of the monastery on its northern side. Its eastern wall is about 925 ft long. A major highlight of the monastery is a 25-ft-high golden statue of Lord Buddha, seated on a lotus throne flanked by his two principal attendants, Maudgalyayana and Sariputra, each with a staff and a bowl in hand. Three storeys high, the Tawang Monastery is surrounded by a 925-ft (282 m)-long compound wall and houses 65 residential buildings. It also boasts a library that houses valuable old scriptures, mainly Kangyur and Tengyur.


The monastery holds a great historical significance and was founded in 1681, in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. The word 'Tawang' literally translates into chosen by a horse and legend has it that the site of the present monastery is believed to have been chosen by a horse owned by Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso, the founder. The sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, was born in Tawang, making it a major holy site for Tibetan Buddhists. The Tawang Monastery, in Tibetan, is known as Galden Namgey Lhatse, which translates to celestial paradise on a clear night. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect.

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