The North Eastern part of India is known for its simple people, amusing traditions, wildlife, Buddhist culture and some of the most beautiful monasteries in the country. A 12 hour drive from Guwahati, the biggest and one of the fastest developing city of Assam, through many invisible bends, sharp turns and cloudy passes unfolds one hidden treasure in the lap of nature. Tawang, the second largest monastery of Asia and the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in India, is located in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh
Not many people know about this hidden treasure, as the drive to Tawang is not for the faint hearted. One has to pass the beautiful Sela pass at a height of 14.000 feet (4300 meter) which is the highest point of the region and connects Tawang to the rest of the world. The pass is covered in snow almost throughout the year with hardly any vegetation around. The rugged stone strewn mountain drive passes through many small villages, waterfalls and crystal clear lakes. Visitors can explore the nearby Sela Lake and Jang Waterfall, located close to the pass. The lakes in this part of the Eastern Himalayan region holds a religious significance to the Buddhist community.
Situated at a height of approx, 10000 ft,(3000 Mts), this mesmerizing Buddhist citadel comprises of residential buildings inhabited by Buddhist followers, mainly the Monpa, Tapka and Tibetians. The monstery was founded in the 17th century AD by the Mera Lama Lodre Gyasto, as by the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso.
The Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh is a center for Buddhist cultural studies where little lamas everyday come to pray and study at the in-house library consisting of an invaluable collection of 400 years old manuscripts.
The 3-storied building also houses an assembly hall, a temple and an 8.3 meter high golden Buddha. Hundreds of illuminated butter lamps and the chanting of mantras in the tranquil environs of Tawang fill the air with a spiritual zing.
Other attraction in the area: Visit the Bhumla Pass which is about 40 kms away from Tawang. The road to Bhumla pass from Tawang is a difficult one but scenic. The pass is at the India China Border where Indian Military welcomes visitors with a warm heart even in the biting cold weather.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, an ‘Apple orchard once in India’ means ‘Kinnaur all the way’. In the lap of blue skies and hills that are enchanted with an awesome view and the famous Kinnauri Apple, one will find tranquility here. The high altitudes of Kinnaur ranging from 2,320 mts to 6,816 mts, are a haven for Mountaineers & Fruiters.
Kinnaur is the northeast district of Himachal Pradesh, located about 235 kms from Shimla. Surrounded by the Tibet to the east, the region has a harmonious mix of the Buddhists and Hindus keeping the multicultural values of India alive. Places like Sangla & Kalpa are famous for the apple production. Kalpa is one of the biggest and beautiful villages of Kinnaur where river Sutlej flows through its scenic valleys. The picturesque Sangla Valley known for rich tribal culture and traditions is perfect for a camp-night under the stars.
Stokes was the mad behind bringing the ‘Apple Revolution’ in Himachal. Explore these beautiful apple growing villages tucked in the western Himalayas.
Must Do: Walk through the Apple Orchards of Kotgarh & Thanedar (origin of apple farms in Himachal) 80 kms from Shimla
Must See: Bhimkali temple in Sarahan, 90 kms from Kalpa. The temple is a rare combination of Bhuddhist and Hindu architecture which is approx 200 years old
Best Season: March – September