Ep 6 Tawang Monastery visit, | War Memorial | Arunachal Pradesh Tour
The best time to travel in Tawang circuit is Sept, Oct, and Nov. We travelled in Tawang during April. April is also a nice time to travel here but... ...due to low visibility, we weren't able to see till far at many places. When we travelled from Tawang to Bumla Pass, it was mid-April. On the way, we experienced snowfal as well as saw a lot of snow. It means if you come to Bumla in April, you will definitely experience snowfall.
After mid-May, it is monsoon season. By the way, monsoon comes early to North-east but.... ...in Arunachal Pradesh, rains come even earlier. Coming here during rains means your mobility will be affected big-time. We completed this journey in 12-13 days. A lot of tourists also complete this whole circuit comfortably in 7 days but... ...I don't think that is a very good idea. Because a 7-day trip will keep you away from offbeat locations such as...
...Lubrang and Holy Waterfall, which we could visit because of ample time. I feel you can easily enjoy this journey with a 9-day window at your disposal. In today's episode, you will see local sightseeing in Tawang. And in the next episode, you will go on a journey of Bumla Pass. Namaskar friends, welcome to Visa2explore.
This is your host, Harish Bali. We are in Tawang. Today is 6th day of our journey.
From Guwahati, we travelled to Tawang with stops in between. Right now, we are about 450 KM away from Guwahati. Today we will tour Tawang and our day will begin with a monastery visit. The weather is cloudy right now. It seems like it could start raining anytime.
Someone has referred us to a Guruji here. He will help us with this visit. Guruji Thupten Shastri Ji! Good morning! Welcome to our monastery! Thank you so much! Before we go inside, will you give us brief information about the monastery? Yes Sir! So that we understand how old is this monastery.
This is known as the "Gaden Namgyal Lhatse" monastery. This is our library. This Gompa was established between 1680 and 1681. So, it is more than 334 years old.
It is believed to be the 2nd largest, oldest Buddhist monastery in Asia. Shall we go inside? Yes Sir! Thanks! This is the main prayer hall where prayer is held every morning. And sometimes we have some special occasions, according to lunar calendar, Then we get up at 12 or 1 in the night and then ..... ...and we conduct prayers here for the whole day. This is a statue of Tathagat, Lord Buddha, was brought here from Sona. Now it is under China.
Sona is a district. In Tibet? Yes, in Tibet. So, these are all disciples - 8 Bodhisattvas. This one is a close disciple of Lord Buddha, also known as Bodhisattva. His name is mentioned here. This is the statue of 5th Dalai Lama.
His name is Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso. This Gompa was established during the time of Dalai Lama. Next, we have protectors everywhere where you have a monastery or Math. The protector of this monastery is known as 'Shri Devi."
We call him "Palden Lhamo." He is inside this glass case. This is the founder of Tawang Monastery. His name is "Merag Lodroe Gyamtso."
I mentioned this Gompa was built in 1680-81. So, it was Merag Lodroe Gyamtso, the chief disciple of 5th Dalai Lama.... ...he went to Tibet to meet 5th Dalai Lama. He requested that he wanted to build a Math. It was according to the order of 5th Dalai Lama that the monastery.... ...was buil tin 1680. He made a rule that in a Buddhist family, with 3 sons,....
....it was mandatory for the middle son to become a monk. Presently, we have more than 500 monks here. Most of them are the middle sons in their respectively families. Okay! I remember that when I visited Spiti, a while ago, in Himachal Pradesh.... Yes! ...the same custom is followed there, but it is the youngest son who becomes monk. Here, it is the middle son. The middle one Sir. This monastery belongs to which sect? It belongs to Gelug community.
Buddhism has four sects - Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyu, and Gelug. This Math belongs to Gelug sect. The statue in the middle is that of the founder of Gelug sect. He is the head of Gelug sect. His name is Je Tsongkhapa.
And his main disciples - Khedrubje and Gyaltsabje . And you know this throne belongs to His Holiness Dalai Lama. Whenever he visits here, he takes a seat on this throne. The last time he visited here was on April 7, 2017. That was his sixth visit to our monastery. The first time he visited here was when he escaped Tibet in 1959.
This stupa is actually a monument. This stupa was built in the memory of the 6th Dalai Lama who was born here. He was born in a place called Urgelling. How far is that birthplace? It will take you 20 minutes from here. 20-25 minutes. And it is known as the 'Future Buddha.'
Right now, it is the era of Lord Buddha. So, it is said already that for 5000 years, the Buddhist religion will be there. After that the Dharma will be wiped off. Again, another Bodhisattva will be born in this world. That is the significance of this statue.
So, according to the Buddhist philosophy, we still have almost 2400 years left. Very good display! Everything inside is so colourful. Yes Sir!, yes sir! Nice paintings! Thank you Sir! When do you organize the dance festival? The Torgya festival is usually organized in the month of January. But the fixed date for that is decided as per the lunar or Bodhi calendar. The 3-day mask dance performed during that festival....
...is done after we practice for one month. That one-month practice is done in the ground opposite to the monastery. After that the festival is celebrated. Around that time, apart from our Indian tourists, we also get.... ...visitors from Bhutan. More than 10,000 people gather in this courtyard for the festival. So many tourists come here during those days? Yes Sir, a lot come here. We also organise a fair here.
The mela is held along this path that you see. There are shops selling art and craft as well as various Buddhist artefacts. And the mask dance takes place in the courtyard.
We also pray for peace in the world. You were telling me about the museum. Museum is right there Sir.
Where? There Sir. Ohh right there. Yes Sir! This is a footprint belonging to a monk. It belongs to the 19th century. The monk's name is Gaylang Laksa Thapke. The monks usually prostrate at home during prayers at their residence every morning.
Their footprints are created like this. Is this an old photo or painting? This is the old picture of monastery, which we have now renovated. These are all masks of the protector. As I've told you earlier, we wear these masks for the Torgya festival. This elephant ivory is about 1000 years old. Really! And this is a Buddhist philosophy book written in gold.
This granth (book) is called Prajna Paramita Sutra. Its written in gold? Yes Sir! Yes Sir! There are more than 600 volumes of such books in the monastery. So, approximately, how old would it be? Sir, this is as old as the Buddhism religion, which means thousands of years old And all of this? These are human skulls Sir! Human? Yes sir, of humans! Why is it kept here? It has been kept here because we sometimes use it in our rituals and prayers. This is a traditional lock and key, which we use in the monastery. This is lock and this is key.
Someone told me that the weather changes rapidly in Tawang. We reached here yesterday at 7 pm. Yes Sir! It started raining suddenly. And since this morning, it has been raining, then it becomes sunny, repeatedly. Yes Sir, that is the case here! Now see, in the past 30 minutes, we saw two weather changes. The sun is out at the same time as it is raining.
In Tawang, we don't have summer season as such. And in 2-3 months, it will start snowing. And it will be cold again. You mean there is no summer season here? No Sir! Rains....winter.....
Yes Sir, Yes Sir! ....and again rains! Which are the months during which most of the tourists visit here? Like maximum tourists in Tawang? Earlier Sir, most of tourists used to come between Sept, Oct and Nov. But there is no particular season now. But the tourists keep coming even now. In my opinion, the COVID pandemic since last two years....
...people are now fed up of sitting inside. Now people want to travel. Yes Sir, in full force! The main tourists season is from Sept to Nov. Because during those months, there is no rain or snow.
And the weather is pleasant. You can see till far. Yes, you can! There is one thing - Tawang is at a high altitude as is the monastery. Yes Sir! From here, the Tawang houses make up a nice view! Yes Sir, Yes Sir! The view is good, but it could be better if there was no fog. Yes Sir! Nice view! But here the weather continues to change without notice.
That's true! Thank you for giving us your time. Thank you Sir! As he has told me already, he has a class to take. Right now, examinations are going on. So I've to look after them. I understand.
Thank you so much for your time. Sir, nice to meet you! Thanks! We are in the old market area. I've identified the Dragon Restaurant here.
I've already placed the lunch order. Till the lunch gets ready, let us take a walk through the market. After that we'll come back here for lunch. There are restaurants and hotels in the old market area.
As you can see, there are two hotels here, There is one restaurant here, and one "North east Flavors" here. The tourists prefer to stay on the outskirts of the town instead of the main area. I saw the "Tawang Heights" hotel on our way here. Let us walk some more.
This market has a lot of shops. You can buy shoes, woollens, etc. Good! I just saw a group of tourists purchasing woollens here.
It is because not many are aware of how cold it is going to be. Great! Lunch must be ready now. Let's go to Dragon restaurant.
I've ordered chicken momos and, with that, Veg Thenthuk. In the past few days, I've seen that the main dish in a meal has light spices. Like if I talk about chicken momos, it has a little salt and nothing else. And obviously chicken too! But this accompanying chutney is really spicy. The chutney is a combination of red chilies and schezwan chili. And momos are super-light on masala.
Let's eat Thenthuk now. Thenthuk has carrots, cabbage, Lai leaves, spring onions in it. And what you see in th bowl are noodles, handmade noodles to be specific. Maida (refined flour) is kneaded into a dough, flattened out.... ....cut into smaller pieces and added to Thintuk like this. Talking about the preparation, it is as tasty as Thukpa.
Very, very tasty! Just like momos, Thenthuk is also extremely low on spices. It just has a slight flavor of ginger and garlic. A little salt and some chili. I liked Thenthuk very much. I liked momos too but Thenthuk is slightly tastier. It is a full meal in itself.
A plate of momos and a bowl of Thenthuk! After travelling for 3 KM, we've reached Tawang Memorial. I am standing outside. This memorial has been built in the form of Chhorten! Because the majority of population is Buddhist. This board here says this memorial is "blessed by monks and locals of Tawang." Local citizens even donated their gold and silver ornaments here at the memorial.
Let us go inside. This memorial is built in the memory of 2400 Army officers, JCOs and jawans.... ...who laid down their lives during the '62 war. All those names are written here.
If you take a round of this place, you will see all the names, with their ranks, written. Subedar Joginder Singh, PVC, 1 Sikh, War Memorial. In this hall, details about Subedar Joginder Singh are written. You can read here. On October 23, 1962, Subedar Joginder Singh, along with his platoon,....
...was positioned at a ridge near Tongpen La when.... ....the country had already been informed about the Chinese invasion. After the first Chinese attack at 5.30 am, Indian forces pushed them back. The Chinese attacks in 1962 took place like sea waves, one after the other. Each wave of attack brought with it at least 200 Chinese soldiers. So, as soon as one wave of attack was deflected, the next wave followed.
When they were defeated as well, by that time a lot of Indian soldiers.... ...were left seriously injured. We are talking about the war at Tongpen La here. In the third wave, Subedar Joginder Singh received a bullet in his thigh. Despite that, he didn't abandon his post.
The other soldiers with him also didn't leave their post. They kept fighting the Chinese. Eventually, Subedar Joginder Singh was martyred. He was firing from his machine gun till his last breath.
Once his machine gun used up all the ammunition.... ...he tied a bayonet in front of his rifle. And jumped into a hand-to-hand combat with Chinese soldiers. And he wasn't alone, there were hundreds of other soldiers who fought valiantly.
So, this place has all the important details about those brave soldiers. Their life stories are put up on all four sides of this hall. It reads here that Subedar Joginder Singh was from a village near Moga, Punjab. He belonged to a poor family.
Since his early childhood, he saw his parents struggling to make the ends meet. He wanted to create his own identity. That is why he joined the Indian Army. He learnt about the sacrifices of Sikh Gurus from his mother. He started learning sword-fighting and wrestling at an early age. It is mentioned here that he played a pivotal role during the 1962 war.
There is another hall here. Since videography is prohibited, I am going to tell you what I saw inside. Inside, the war taking place in North and South Tawang is mentioned date-wise. If you read through the text properly, you'll..
...understand how the events unfolded. You will know how the Chinese invaded. There is a separate map showing the fall of Tawang. We saw some really old photographs inside. I also saw some guns used during the '62 war. Come, let us go out now. If we start talking about the '62 war and what went wrong or....
...what could be done right, it will throw up so many things that.... ...can be made into a dedicated one-hour video. That video will contain different dimensions for the same topic. But two main aspects, as per my personal opinion are.... ...that is, No. 1 - "Hindi Cheeni Bhai Bhai!" This slogan used to be quite popular in India at that time.
Indian politicians used to propagate this slogan at every public meeting. While China thought otherwise. Indian army didn't have such equipments, with which....
...it could face the Chinese. Indian Army used to work with single rifle guns at that time. China had automatic weapons at that time. That called for a larger defence budget to equip the army.
Because the war at that time took place on land, instead of in air or on water. Speaking at a very personal level, the feeling of patriotism.... .....will find its way into your heart when you'll visit here. You will feel that when you'll read about the brave soldiers.... ...and their ultimate sacrifice for the nation. Now we will leave here but before that...Jai Hind! We've come into the old market area of Tawang.
There are a few taxis parked here. So, you were telling me that for local sightseeing.... ...you've got a package of 3 to 3.5 hours. Yes! For local sightseeing! You need to take out a permit to visit Bum-La.
So whether you are coming in a private vehicle or a taxi... ...you'll have to leave it here and then take a taxi to Bum-La. You can go to Bum-La in an Alto or an Echo, as you can see. But, it is your choice, like we have chosen Xylo to go there.
For that you need to provide ILP, Aadhaar Card and..... ...a permit from the DC's office, which you can get before 5 pm. It is better to apply in the morning, so that you can receive the permit in time. Usually, tourists hand over the documents to the taxi driver....
...who gets the work done in a few hours and then gives you a call. Next morning, the driver will pick you up from your hotel. Usually, what time do tourists leave for Bum-La? Between 7 and 8 am. And by what time do they return? Not before 2 or 3 pm. After 3 pm. So, basically, it is Tibet border.
So, is it 37 KM from here? Yes, almost! 37 KM take about an hour to cover. Yes! Or 1.5 hours? You will need at least 1.5 to 2 hours for the journey. How is the road? The road is almost good. Better than before! Better than before? Someone just told me, there are 3 markets in Tawang. This is the Old Market area and there is a New Market as well as Nehru Market.
So, old market area has most number of shops? Is it so? It is called New Market? It feels good standing here. I was searching for the point from where I could get a good look of Tawang. This is a....this is a very good place.
Very good viewpoint! (Narration) We just watched the light & sound show. The show begins at 5.30 pm and ticket costs Rs 50 per person. The number of show varies from 1 to 2 depending upon the crowd. The show begins with information about the regional culture. After that, the show talks about the influence of Tibet and Bhutan....
...on this region since 500 to 1000 years ago. Then we were told of the atmosphere of the 1850s when the Britishers came. Then the narrator talked about the 1962 war. During the 1962 war, the Chinese Army attacked various posts in waves, ....
....of different groups. At that time, Indian soldiers didn't have enough weapons. They didn't have modern machinery but they had courage in abundance. It is specially mentioned here that wars are won through courage. (Narration) We came to know of a lot of things, which were not known to me personally.
For instance, the story of Noora and Sela. They were two sisters, who were civilians. They helped the army men and even fired guns upon the Chinese. It is believed that Chinese sent a total of 24,000 soldiers. And as per local counts, there were less than 3000-4000 soldiers from India. That is the total count of all the army posts.
That is how the show went and national anthem was played towards the end. Jai Hind! We are leaving here now. Once I reach the homestay, I will show you the accommodation too. We'll end the day after that. This is the accommodation! Its tariff is Rs 2000 on double occupancy basis.
Tariff includes breakfast. I can't show you the homestay from outside since it is raining. That I'll show you in the next episode. This is it for today. Tomorrow, we are going to Bum-La Pass.
We'll leave here at 7.30 am. Our pass will be verified at 7 am and by 7.30 am, our driver will reach here. Next episode will be of Bum-La Pass. Bye-bye for now! Thanks for your time! Look down! What a beautiful lake! So much snow on the mountains. We are at a height of 15,200 ft Ever since we've begun our Arunachal Pradesh, after leaving Guwahati....
...all I see are smiling faces of everyone. Which is good, in a way!