Are you thinking about visiting Tawang Arunachal Pradesh? Most likely you want to go because of the rich Tibetan culture and the famous Tawang Monastery, which are great reasons to go! They are the reasons I was excited, and I was happy to see there was so much more than just a monastery to visit in Tawang India.
Tawang tourism isn’t huge although it is one of the most popular places to visit in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and Tawang Monastery is one of the most historical places in India to visit, making the journey up to the far NE India well worth your time.
I want to share some hotspots in Tawang and also the top hotels in Tawang with you so you can plan your trip. I went with Holiday Scout and if you’re looking for a Tawang tour, I can highly recommend them! Most of what we did and saw in Tawang wouldn’t have been possible going solo.
So first, the basics for visiting Tawang:
- Where is Tawang? Let me just share the map here but it’s the NW part of Arunachal Pradesh and while you’re here you are only 30-40 km from both Bhutan and China.
Smoojed in between Bhutan and China… then looked at the zoomed bit below to get the full idea of where it is in relation to the rest of India.
- When should I go to Tawang? It’s actually one of the best places to visit in India in December since December is the peak season of tourism and other places like the Taj will be crowded. The season here is Nov-March
- How’s the Tawang weather? The reason people come in the cold months of Nov-March is because the other months have monsoon rain. It is COLD. You have to plan ahead and pack properly! It was -2 celsius for us at night in November.
- What about Tawang Hotels, are there any? There are hotels in Tawang but not many. Arunachal Pradesh tourism in general is still growing. The infrastructure isn’t great (roads are bad, hotels are few). We stayed at Tenzin Guesthouse which isn’t even on Tripadvisor but our guide says is the best guesthouse in town. The other top two options are: Hotel Zax Star and Hotel Gakyi Khang Zhang
Tawang’s Best Kept Secrets | What to do in Tawang
1. Tawang Monastery.
The most obvious of things to visit is this famous monastery. It’s the second largest in the world, after the Lhasa one in Tibet which is not longer in use due to Chinese laws. That makes Tawang Monastery the largest active monastery in the world.
2. Craft Center and Emporium.
I love finding crafts and seeing how they are made everywhere that I travel. I wrote about the artisans I found in Mysore which people seemed to really like reading about so I’m going to write a whole article about the crafts in Tawang and combine that with what I saw in Ziro Valley, another area of Arunachal Pradesh. They make many types of hats, bags, paintings, hand-woven fabrics, and woven baskets, as well as knitting all kinds of things.
3. Indo-Chinese War Memorial.
A memorial for the war of 1962 where 4,220 Indians died fighting the Chinese for Indian territory.
4. Tawang Town Center.
One of our favorite things to see where the soldiers holding hands and guns. It’s normal for men in India to hold hands as a sign of friendship and gave us a laugh to see them in military get up holding guns while walking hand in hand through town. As usual the cows tried to get involved in the veg market while the women shooed them away before they could steal anything.
5. Tsun Gon Thog Jee Choeling Nunnery.
We were greeted by the adorable Sonam who offered us tea immediately. Going into her room and sitting by the fire we met two other girls who were traveling the area. It was the warmest we had been since arriving in Tawang the day before, sitting by the fire inside. The nuns were having a lively debate outside and would clap when it was someone else’s turn to talk. I never knew there were “female monks” in Tibetan Buddhism so found all of this so intriguing.
6. Ugyenling Monastery.
Also called the 6th Dalai Lama monastery because he was born here. This is an older monastery (1487) that isn’t as visited and is often neglected by tourists who come to only see the Tawang Monastery. The 6th Dalai Lama planted a tree which you’ll see on the right of the entrance. People believe if you steep the leaves like tea, and drink, you can cure illnesses. It was ransacked in the 1700’s and now is a simple and small monastery.
7. Thegtse Sang-ngag Choekhorling Monastery.
Th is the monastery of the Mon-yul kid-mo jong which means the “sacred land of happiness” located in a village in Tawang called Khin-mey, which comes from a Monpa (tribal) word Khi-ket Nyan-mey which means “place for listening to the dogs bark”. Legend has it, the villagers used to hunt and you would hear their hunting dogs from here, until a guru came and taught them Buddhism and not to kill.
This monastery is unique in that it is part of a different sect of Buddhism called Nyingma with a guru Nansid Zilnon where the monks can have long hair and can marry. It was the most colorful one we saw!
8. Crossing Sela Pass to get there.
Not actually in Tawang, but worth mentioning because this pass is quite famous in India and you have to pass by to get to Tawang. Getting to Tawang in itself is an adventure which I will write about!
9. Tawang cable car.
Brand new attraction in Tawang. I didn’t go across myself because it was on the other side. It’s a half hour ride, so we would have had to wait half and hour for it, taken it half an hour, then half an hour back… and we had too much to see! If you have the time though, the views look stunning.
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