How Tawang Became A Tourist-Friendly Destination

Before it was on any travel list, Tawang was an isolated location with various Buddhism sects
The mountains around Tawang, Photo Credits Shutterstock
The mountains around Tawang, Photo Credits Shutterstock

Tawang's history owes much to its geography, nestled high up in the north-western corner of Arunachal Pradesh that borders Bhutan and China (Tibet). Historically, Tawang was remembered mainly during times of war due to its remote location and difficult terrain. The region is characterized by high mountain passes that offer panoramic views, snowy winters, lush green summers, and occasional waterfalls and lakes, typical of border landscapes that are both difficult and beautiful.


Tawang played a significant role in the Indo-Chinese War of 1962, and it was where the 14th Dalai Lama and his followers crossed over into India from Tibet in 1959. In the 17th century, an angry monk named Meera Lama built a fortress here to protect the monks of his Gelugpa creed during a period of fierce rivalry between Buddhist sects. Today, the fortress is known as the Tawang Monastery, India's largest monastery that has housed up to 500 lamas at a time.

Tourism A New Chapter

After a period of virtual isolation, Tawang started attracting tourists in the 1990s, who came in search of stunning views, local handicrafts, and familiar cuisine. Government restrictions and Tawang's remoteness had kept it from becoming a popular tourist destination for years, but helicopter flights and easier access changed that. Today, Tawang's history of Buddhism and battles is being augmented by tourism, which is giving rise to a new chapter in its story. The farmer's son aspires to become a cab driver, the local merchant becomes a cyber café owner, and everyone dreams of attracting tourists with deep pockets. It's a strange, rushed introduction to the rest of the world, so visitors are encouraged to go before capitalism fully takes over, and the friendly offers of butter-tea and casual conversation disappear.

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