India // The Northeast //


Some 180km beyond Bomdila, the great Buddhist monastery of TAWANG, the largest in India, dominates the land of the Monpas. Perched at around 3500m and looking out onto a semicircle of peaks, snow-capped for much of the year, Tawang, on the edge of Tibet and peering down to Bhutan, feels like the end of the road, with long cold nights and plenty of snow in winter.

A bone of contention between India and China, Tawang has always been of special significance to Tibetans and the Dalai Lama who fled Tibet in 1959 and travelled surreptitiously through here on his way into exile. His pre-incarnation, the Sixth Dalai Lama was born on the outskirts of the town.

The three-day Torgya festival in January, shortly before Losar (Tibetan New Year), celebrates the life of the first king of Mon and is accompanied by a chaam (lama dance) to ward off evil spirits. Recently established, the Tawang Festival, held towards the end of October, celebrates the community with cultural shows.

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