"Tawang Monastery" State of Arunachal Pradesh by jorgejuansanchez

During the bus journey from Tezpur I made friendship with a native of Arunachal, a Monpa, ethno that is like the Tibetans, including the language. I expressed him my intention to enter Arunachal Pradesh. When we arrived at Bhalukpong, the border with Arunachal, I said to him:
“Indians are jealous of you. You have so many beautiful places in Arunachal Pradesh that if they allowed the foreigners to visit them then many, instead of travelling to Jaipur, Taj Mahal or to the Kerala Backwaters, would come here”.
Then my Monpa friend replied me:
“You are right; I will help you to visit my state. Indians are not good”.
We crossed together the border line, to the Bhalukpong arunachali, because it was a divided city, like Nicosia. The Indian soldier looked at us but since my friend was covering me, they only saw a black hair man accompanying a local Monpa and did not stop me.
Finally I had entered my seventh Sister!
In Bhalukpong arunachali, without delay, I entered a cafeteria to order chai meanwhile my friend arranged a fair price with the driver of a minibus (only 80 rupees) to transport me to Tippi, a quiet Arunachal village at 6 kilometres distance well inside Arunachal Pradesh territory, where he knew of a hotel where nobody will ask me questions or to see my passport to sleep.
In the hotels of the forbidden states, if you are a foreigner, or even Indian, you need to fill a supplementary form indicating the number of your Restricted Area Permit or the Inner Permit which is delivered to the Police every night.

At 5 AM I was ready to board the first minibus passing through Tippi with direction to Tawang. There were some other passengers with me. Soon a minibus stopped.
First the driver filled the interior of the minibus with great quantities of women, even on every leg of the driver there was a woman sited. I was installed in the last row. He asked me if I have the Inner Permit and I nodded my head affirmatively.
I did not mind to be caught by the Indian Army and sent to jail. I have been in half a dozen of them for crossing to forbidden places, and use them as meditation monasteries where I clean improper thoughts. I heard that in Indian jails are very humane and they feed the prisoners with tali gujarati, dhal, chapatti, chai, and lassi on Sundays. In Bahamas prison I was allowed to play golf, but in Asuncion, Paraguay, the first two weeks I was only given water, and nothing of food. I could write a guide for Lonely Planet titled “Across the jails of the five continents on the cheap”.
There are hundreds of thousands of Indian soldiers everywhere around Arunachal Pradesh. In 1962 the Chinese invaded that state and there was a fiery fight. Arriving to Bomdila a soldier looked inside the minibus where I was. I made as if sleeping. He touched my shoulder and asked me something in Hindi that I did not understand. With cold blood I replied: “Acha” and he went away!
Acha is a very useful Hindi word, it can mean yes, OK, I understand, oh I see, but also: yes but please leave me in peace.
After crossing some villages where the natives practiced archery, I arrived about 6 PM to Tawang and at once headed to the Buddhist monastery on the top of a hill dominating the town. I was accepted immediately by the monks to live there. Everybody was interested for the Rumtek Gompa news that I brought.

The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa and was even more stunning that the Potala of Lhasa. There lived about 500 monks, and also some workers in the houses in the middle of the monastery. It was founded in the XVII century by the 5th Dalai Lama, and precisely there was born the 6th Dalai Lama.
The 14th Dalai Lama will visit Tawang Monastery again in 2007 during the Padmashambhava dances in the full moon of May.
The views from that monastery were superb! Tawang is the second largest monastery in Asia, only behind of Potala, in Tibet.

When I was about to leave for Kolkata, one of the monks, Lama Champa, decided to accompany me because he feared that in the way back to Assam I would not have the unbelievable luck with the Indian soldiers that I had when entering Arunachal Pradesh. If asked, he would reply that I was a guest of the Tawang monastery.
Lama Champa travels every year to Europe, where remains for a few months teaching Buddhist meditation techniques in Buddhist centres in Warsaw, Berlin and Murcia, in Spain.
One morning at 5 AM we embarked in a minibus and at about 6 PM we reached Tezpur, back in Assam, from where we both travelled in a night bus to Guwahati. Then we separated. Lama Champa took a train to Delhi to organize his new trip to Europe. I travelled by night train straight to Kolkata.

  • Last visit to State of Arunachal Pradesh: Aug 2006
  • Intro Updated Aug 26, 2006
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jorgejuansanchez

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