Tawang - Tradition, nature and Madhuri Dixit

IANS, July 8, 2009

TAWANG, ARUNACHAL PRADESH (India) -- This is the route that the Chinese soldiers took in 1962 to enter Indian territory. Today known as "the hidden paradise" or "the land of dawn-lit mountains", Tawang is the place if one is looking for a heavenly tryst with nature and a heady mix of history, religion, legends - and Madhuri Dixit.

<< A view of the 350-year old Buddhist Monastery at Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

Located high in the mountain ranges of Himalayas, at 3,500 metres above sea level, Tawang is a treat for nature lovers and presents images of virgin mountain forests, exquisite gompas, quaint villages and tranquil lakes.

The major attraction of the place is the Tawang monastery, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in India; an all-women monastery and Madhuri waterfalls, named after the Bollywood actress who came here on a film shoot.

The 400-year-old hilltop Tawang monastery is built like a fortress and is home to around 600 lamas. It has dormitories, a meeting hall, school, community kitchen, monuments and the main building housing the temple - Dukkang. With its narrow cobbled streets, numerous buildings and the enormous area it occupies, the gompa is like a mini city.

The fifth Dalai Lama, Mera Lama, set out in 1681 searching for a place to construct a monastery. One day after praying for guidance, he found his horse standing quietly on a hilltop and took it as a divine sign. Hence the name Tawang, which means chosen by the horse.

"Locals helped build the monastery and even today they are responsible for looking after it," said a monk, as others chanted softly in the quiet mountain air.

Inside the monastery, the huge 30-foot Buddha statue made of wood sits serenely amidst priceless tankhas (scroll-paintings) and Buddhist artefacts. Attached to the gompa is a museum which displays ancient manuscripts and precious artefacts, evocative of the centuries-old India-Tibet Buddhist trail.

The monastery has recently undergone renovation and bright paintings adorn its walls. Dances and ceremonial celebrations are held in the courtyard, the most important of which is held on the night of Buddha Purnima, the full moon night on which the Buddha was born, attained enlightenment and died.

A few kilometres away is the Thukje Chueling Nunnery run by female monks, home to around 50 of them. Only women are allowed to stay inside the monastery.

To reach Tawang, you drive for 12 hours from Assam's Tezpur town, a major Indian Air Force base. The road is a visual delight with clouds sometimes literally descending to the ground and ravines breaking the monotony of virgin forests straddling the commanding mountains.

Complementing the scenic journey is the destination. The Jang waterfalls, locally known as Madhuri falls, are worth a watch. Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit shot for her film "Koyla" here.

The Indian Army war memorial at Jaswant Garh is another must visit. Dedicated to the martyrs of the 1962 India-China war, the memorial is nestled among mountains overlooking the Tawang-Chu valley.

Though China still claims Tawang is within its territory, the area is peaceful and is not affected by insurgency.

Despite increasing flow of tourists to Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang remains largely unexplored and poor roads can make the journey a really long one. Tourists also need to plan in advance, as inner line permits are needed to visit some areas in and around Tawang.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv