11 REASONS WHY TAWANG IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH WILL BLOW YOUR FREAKING MIND

11 REASONS WHY TAWANG IN ARUNACHAL PRADESH WILL BLOW YOUR FREAKING MIND

Tawang blew my mind.

I couldn’t believe I was still standing in India, let alone this century! Tawang is the definition of tradition and cultural values still well and truly alive today. In the 21st century, it’s so easy to forget the world outside of our phones and social networks. But, here, you’ll forget all that in this Himalayan haven, there’s far too much to see.

Tawang is sandwiched between South Tibet (China) and Bhutan, so it’s an amazing mix of cultures, religion, temples, food and people. Although I only spent a few days here, what I did experience was on another level of culture trip.

Tibetan Buddhist temples, monks and nun’s, Monpa tribes, fluffy puppies, cuddly yaks, prayer wheels, chai and Himalayan mountains are all here waiting for you.

Here are the 11 reasons why Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh will blow your freaking mind!

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

How to get to Tawang

Tawang is in North East India in a state called Arunachal Pradesh, in between Bhutan and South Tibet (China).

There are no flights here and the best way to arrive is by car via the Sela Pass.  But, it’s not all plain sailing. It took me two attempts to reach here due to the heavy snow!

The best way to experience this part of the world is through a tour with Holiday Scout. You’ll have a more personalised experience which is so much better than travelling here on your own. I did both and I wish I explored North East India with Holiday Scout the whole time! For my full review of the tour see here. 

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

This is the road to Sela pass! It looked like a winter wonderland due to the heavy snow 

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

Our swanky Scorpio provided with Holiday Scout. 

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

Celebrating reaching the top! It felt fantastic after our second attempt. 

Need a hotel in Tawang?

If you need to find a clean and comfortable guest house in Tawang, than I would suggest the friendly Tenzin Guesthouse. It’s got 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor and having stayed there myself, it comes highly recommended! There are comfy beds, thick quilts and heaters to take off the winter chill.

To book a room or check rates, get in touch with Holiday Scout.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

1. The scenery will make your jaw drop

Here, it’s all about the journey and not the destination. Beyond heading to the town of Tawang in the Himalayas, the start of the journey in the district of Tawang provides the most awe inspiring views.

You’ll wind through epic mountain peaks, cheer as you cross over the Sela pass, see cascading waterfalls, explore dense lush forests, fall in love with quaint Arunachal villages and a whole lot more to boot.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

From the bright yellow roofs of the monastery, to the beautiful Buddhist temples, to the Brokpa huts with their beautiful herd of fluffy yaks. You’ll have to pinch and ask yourself; is this real?

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

2. You’ll feel the history of the monastery speak to you

Tawang Monastery was built in the 17th century and it’s stood the test of time. After Lhasa in Tibet, this is the second largest monastery in the entire world.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunchal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

Although there is so much more to Tawang than just the monastery, you can’t deny it’s like a siren that pulls you in. You’ll need at least a few hours as there is so much to explore.

It’s often referred to as a citadel in the city in it’s own right and as soon as you arrive you’ll know why; It’s absolutely huge! It was built to house, feed, teach and cater for over 700 monks. That’s A LOT of space and food needed.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

I met so many friendly monks while here. The little ones were the cutest! They were so sweet trying to keep their eyes open and messing around in early morning prayer. We met them when they had finished their classes.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

You can explore the museum which is here, the temples, the library and witness the life that goes on. One of the highlights of my trip was watching the early morning prayers at first light.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

3. The people will welcome you with open arms

As soon as I arrived I couldn’t get over the amazing hospitality. Our hotel, Tenzin Gueshouse, was gorgeous and warm (heaters were a life saver!). The owners were just so friendly!

They welcomed us into the kitchen by the fire, put a hot cup of tea in your hands, cooked up some amazing home made local food and were genuinely curious to know you.

You didn’t feel like a stranger or you didn’t belong wherever you go.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

4. You’ll discover that magic happens at sunrise

If you’re not a morning person, I would highly recommend changing that for a few days in Tawang.

I swear to you that something magic happens here at first light. Firstly, it will be the purple hue of the mountains which will give you a buzz. Then, you can watch the monks chanting early doors around 6am.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

You’ll hear the sound of prayer fill the room. The rays of sunlight shine through the windows and smoke from the incense makes patterns in the air. It will send a chill up your spine. Well, it will be that or how cold it is in the halls, haha!

Top tip: bring a pair of socks as you have to take your shoes off, don’t underestimate how freezing it is on the floor.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

5. Hospitality can be found in the most unlikely places

In Tawang I was invited in for Yak tea by a nun at the Thukje Choeling monestary and again in a hut with a Brokpa (nomad) shepherdess. You’ll never know where you will find yourself and with whom you’ll be sharing stories over chai!

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

I couldn’t get over the kindness and welcoming nature of the people in Arunachal Pradesh. It was on a different level. Everywhere felt like your home and you were greeted with open arms.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

6. You’ll be mesmerised by the colours of the temples

The temples may look old and will wow you as they have stood the test of time but just wait until you get beyond closed doors. The bursts of colour in the architecture, statues, and murals on the walls is the sort of thing that makes you stand back in awe.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

It’s psychedelic and mesmerising. The detail and size of the religious statues are incredible. You’ll wonder just how long they took to build and how many people have prayed to them over the centuries.

You’ll see religious tales and fables, symbols and symmetry, colourful patterns, prayerwheels in all different sizes. You won’t believe your eyes.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

Beyond Tawang monastery there are countless Buddhist temples and monasteries to explore. But the best ones to check out while you’re here are the Ugyenling Monastery, which was the birthplace of the  6th Dalai Lama and the Thegtse Sang-ngag Choekhorling Monastery, in a place nearby called Kin-mey. It was an incredible, colourful spectacle that I’ll never forget!

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

7. The fact you can meet, talk, drink and eat yak…yak everything

Yaks were everywhere in Tawang, in your tea cup, on your plate and grazing in the hills. Personally I LOVE yaks and gave a little squeal when I saw first saw them here.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

If you’re not a fan of Yak butter tea (yep, it does what it says on the tin) than you’ll have to build your tolerance up! They drink it everywhere here and most likely you’ll be offered a cup in place of chai.

Yak cheese is also a favourite staple amongst the locals in Arunachal Pradesh. You’ll find it in chewing gum form (I tried it, wasn’t a fan), in curries and in the pantries of nearly every household!

Yak’s provide wool for warmth, food for comfort and tea for bringing people together in Tawang.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

8. You’ll discover culture that’s so alien to your own

When we first pulled up to the monastery, we watched monks practicing for a festival. They were dancing with painted masks, singing and twirling.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

I’d see women as old as 80 circling the temples 108 times, praying to Buddha and spinning prayer wheels and their beads.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

On the full moon, nearly every local in Tawang was visiting the monestary with offerings of flowers, yak butter tea and money. They would offer themselves to God and pray for a prosperous month ahead. Bunches of incense sticks were lit, sacred cloths were thrown to Buddha and prayers in solitude were made.

The shepherdess was churning yak butter by hand 1000 times per kg while her husband was milking the yak by hand.

Tawang was like a cultural trip. It was old school. It was traditional. Why change something that’s worked for so long? It’s like experiencing another world.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

9. The mountains will intimidate you…in a good way

The first thing I noticed when I entered Arunachal Pradesh was the size of the mountains here. The height intimidated me, not just because I’m a shorty but the fact we were driving around them amazed me.

Driving over the Sela pass was beyond crazy. We were racing round roads 13,500ft. high!

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

When you reach Tawang, you’ll see 360 degree panoramic views of paradise. Snow capped peaks, statues of Buddha, amazing sun rises and sunsets and of course, the brightest of stars due to low light pollution.

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

10. You’ll be part of the action

I loved visiting places in Tawang. I wasn’t just an observer or a typical tourist there, I was taking part. I was helping monks make candle wicks out of cotton, turning prayer wheels with locals, churning yak butter, making Momo’s and lighting candles for happy blessings.

I think Tawang sticks with you long after you’ve gone because of what you experience there.

tawang arunachal pradesh

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

11. It will leave footprints in your heart forever

I had never heard of Tawang before I visited North East India and had no idea a place like this even existed. So, it surprised me that when I left, I missed it so much! It’s honestly like another world and I’m definitely planning on how I can make my way back again.

Tawang blew my mind and I know it will yours when you get here. You really can’t miss it when you make a visit to North East India!

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

tawang arunachal pradesh guide

With thanks to Holiday Scout for hosting my tour of Arunachal Pradesh. All views, pictures and opinions are my own. For a full review of my tour, see here.

If you’d like to book a night a Tenzin Guesthouse, contact Holiday Scout for details.

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tawang arunachal pradesh guide

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Sophie Pearce

Sophie Pearce is the founder of Third Eye Traveller. Always having itchy feet and a restless soul seeking adventure, she has now travelled to over 30+ countries, many of them solo. Leaving her heart in India, which gifted her a “Third Eye”, she felt inspired to share her travel stories in the hope of encouraging others to explore this big beautiful world of ours.

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6 Comments

  1. February 1, 2018 / 9:50 pm

    Looks like an amazing place! Great pics x????

    • February 1, 2018 / 10:49 pm

      Thanks it was such a great place! Thanks for reading. Sophie x

  2. Siddhant Bagrecha
    September 12, 2018 / 10:36 am

    I loved your article, I couldn’t have described it any better..Can I use some of the content as my status/caption on my instagram profile..?

    Permission to copy ??

    • September 12, 2018 / 11:32 pm

      hi, thank you so much ! Of course that’s okay but please credit @thirdeyetraveller on your Instagram, thank you. Sophie

      • Siddhant Bagrecha
        September 13, 2018 / 10:32 am

        For sure will do it when I update my TL.

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