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Tawang is a town in the Himalayas in the far west of the state of Arunachal Pradesh in North-Eastern India. The second-largest Buddhist monastery (gompa) in the world is here, and was built in 1681.

Tawang town and monastery


Tawang has a population of 11,000 and is the administrative headquarters of Tawang district.

Get in[edit]


All visitors require a permit to enter Arunachal state. This means an Inner Line Permit (ILP) for Indians, which can be obtained online from eILP, and a Protected Area Permit (PAP) for non-Indians, which can be obtained in person from the Office of the Deputy Resident Commissioner of Arunachal Pradesh in Guwahati if you're an independent traveler.

By land[edit]

If entering by land from the direction of Tezpur, as most tourists do, you will be required to show your permit at the police checkpoint at the state border in Bhalukpong.

It is advisable to break your journey at either the mountainside town of Bomdila or better still, the charming little valley town of Dirang. The highest point of the road, the Sela Pass between Dirang and Tawang, is notoriously difficult, and heavy snowfall (mostly during winter) could force you to stay on either side.

By car or motorcycle[edit]

Tawang town is about a 16-hour drive from Guwahati. The road is long and winding, rising far up into the mountains, back down again, and back up more than once. As of April 2023 the road is mostly well-paced up to the Sela Pass between Dirang and Tawang (except for short sections of construction), but with long bumpy stretches after the pass. There are many fantastic views along the way, especially around Sela Pass, and the benefit of having your own vehicle (or a reserved taxi) is that you can stop wherever you want to enjoy the scenery. Small cars and motorcycles both make the trip regularly, though drivers with 4WD will probably be grateful for it.

By Sumo or bus[edit]

The most common mode of public transit to Tawang is by shared Tata Sumo SUV from Tezpur in Assam (4 hr. drive from Guwahati). They leave only around 5:30-6:00am from Tezpur's ASTC bus station, and it's recommended that you book a day in advance as they can sometimes fill up. It's also possible to take a Sumo direct from Guwahati. Prepare to be packed in like sardines (up to 15 people in one car), and for your luggage to be tied to the top to make room for more passengers. As of April 2023, the price for a shared Sumo to Tawang was ₹700 from Dirang, ₹1300 from Tezpur, or ₹1700 from Guwahati.

There is also a bus running once a day between Tawang and Guwahati, which takes 17 hours and costs ₹1500.

By air[edit]

Arunachal Pradesh Government provides Helicopter services from Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati to Tawang. The flying time from Guwahati to Tawang is 1 hour 20 minutes. For bookings, contact sales counter of Arunachal Pradesh Civil Aviation at Guwahati Airport. Before booking one may note that the flight may be cancelled due to many reasons. As of April 2023, the price appears to still be ₹3,500 one way, but you should call to double check. Note that there is a 10kg baggage limit.

Get around[edit]

Getting around in Tawang can be divided into two categories. The first one is travel to local sites like Tawang Monastery, War Memorial, Emporium, etc. This can be done by booking a taxi (mostly Maruti OMNI) for half a day. Walking is also possible, but some sites are quite far. The second category is travel to sites outside Tawang, which include P T So lake, Shungetsar (Madhuri) lake and a visit to India-China border at Bumla. A bigger vehicle like a Tata Sumo or Mahindra Bolero should be hired for this, as roads are in bad shape. An entire day is enough to cover these sites.


An icon of Sakyamuni Buddha in the Tawang Monastery
  • 1 Sela Pass. A spectacular high-mountain pass at over 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) elevation, with snowcover for much of the year, leaving no question that you're in the Himalayas. All visitors must pass here on the way to Tawang, unless arriving by air, but you may want to specifically plan for a stop on the way in our out. There is an army camp, a single small eatery, and an often-frozen lake, as well as plenty of panoramic views of rocky, snow-dusted mountains. Scenery along the length of the valley just north of the pass, known as Nuranang, is similarly fantastic. free. Sela Pass (Q7447387) on Wikidata Sela Pass on Wikipedia
  • 2 Tawang Monastery. A Tibetan Buddhist gompa (fortified monastery) of the Gelugpa sect, constructed in 1681. It is the second-largest Buddhist monastery in the world and home to more than 500 lamas (monks). The celebrated 6th Dalai Lama was born here. free; museum ₹20. Tawang Monastery (Q3349882) on Wikidata Tawang Monastery on Wikipedia
  • Tawang War Memorial, Nuranang (within walking distance of Tawang's central markets). A large, impressive Indian Army memorial, commemorating the thousands of soldiers who died fighting a 1962 Chinese invasion that led to China temporarily capturing Tawang, Dirang, and Bomdila before withdrawing.
  • Jaswantgarh War Memorial, Nuranang (closer to the Sela Pass than to Tawang town). Another large memorial to the 1962 war with China. The memorial sits right on the site of one of India's only victories in the war, and commemorates a Sikh soldier from western India who gave his life to capture a Chinese artillery emplacement, turning the tide of the battle. You can visit here on your way to or from Tawang, as it's located along the main highway.
Nuranang Water falls, India
PT Tso, Tawang, India
  • 3 Nuranang Falls (Jang Falls, Bong Bong Falls). A beautiful and spectacular waterfall about a kilometre (0.6 mi) from the town of Jang, between Tawang and the Sela Pass Nuranang Falls (Q7070059) on Wikidata Nuranang Falls on Wikipedia
  • P.T.Tso Lake (above Tawang). The lake is frozen for 4–5 months of the year. You can hire a local vehicle to get there. The lake itself is splendid, and the views from it are unbelievable.
  • Anni Gompa. A Buddhist monastery managed by nuns. Anni means nun. It's a bit outside of town, so you need to request your guide or taxi driver to take you there.
  • Madhuri Lake (Shungetsar Lake). Named after Madhuri Dixit, a famous Bollywood actress.
  • Bum La Pass. Right on the India-China border, 20.6 km away from Tawang, at the height of 4,633 m above sea level. Look out for a beautiful lake. Permission from the Indian Army is needed to visit Bum La Pass, and is not granted to foreigners, only to Indians. Permission can generally be arranged by your hotel. The pass may be inaccessible in the winter due to heavy snowfall.
  • Tibetan Medical Dispensary. It is a short distance from Tawang. A doctor of Tibetan medicine examines you and prescribes Tibetan medicines.
Gorsam Chortan Zemithang


  • Gorsam Chorten, Zemithang Gorsam Chorten (Stupa) is at Zemithang 90 kms from Tawang. It is a 100 ft high stupa built in 12 century AD by Monk Lama Pradhar. It is built to resembles 5 century AD, Boudhnath Stupa in Nepal. Chendebji Chortan in Bhutan is of similar design.


  • Trekking. Tawang is an undiscovered trekker's paradise, offering breathtaking views, fresh mountain air, chill weather, and challenging or leisurely treks. For a rigorous trek (classified as hard), take the Jang - Thingbu - Mago - Goi ichen Base Camp - Mago (Back) - Luguthang - Sena Chakra - RA-I route. The easier trekking routes include the Mukto - Gongkhar - Gyamdong - Khet - Kharung - Bongleng - Kungba - Namsring - Kharteng - Lumla route, and the Tawang Gonpa - Gyangong Ani Gonpa - Bhramadongchung Ani Gonpa - Tawang routes. You can also trek along the Namet Village - Zarmang Ani Gonpa - Khromten Gonpa - Geshila - Klimta - Bomla - Y. Junction - Tawang route, which takes you close to the Chinese border outpost at Bomla. Trekkers are advised to come fully attired and prepared for the worst.
  • Visit the 400 year old Tawang Gompa. Turn the prayer wheels dotted outside small gompas. Meet and chat with the friendly lamas.
  • Take excursions around town to visit beautiful glacier lakes and smaller gompas with big histories.
  • Take a nap on a hillock if it's sunny but be prepared to be awoken by a grazing yak.


Tawang has a good range of tourist souvenir shops which sell Buddhist prayer wheels in colourful wood, chadars (wrap skirts worn by local women), beautiful bags, shawls, brassware and Buddha statues. Look for shops in Old Market as well as in the Tibetan settlement.


Tibetan delicacies like thupka, momos or simple and delicious paratha-sabzi eaten hot from the roadside shacks on cold misty days are a treat! Most restaurants in Tawang serve these. A small shack called Annapurna serves delicious alu (potato) chips.

The traditional Monpa cuisine uses a generous amount of chillies and fermented cheese, which has a strong flavour and is not for the faint hearted.

Some of the best food is found at the small, nondescript, sometimes not very hygienic, eateries, that serve authentic dishes at very affordable prices. They are sure to be authentic food of the region as they are most frequented by locals.

Traditional Arunachal dishes[edit]

The famous momo, widely eaten in the north east and other Himalayan regions, is made by stuffing minced pork and onions into a dough and then steamed in a three layer steamer, or fried.

The thukpa is a soup filled with noodles, minced meat, and vegetables, also known as der thuk. Ashum thukpa is made of maize, beans and meat.

Zan is the staple dish of the Monpa tribes. It is usually made of millet flour, usually with vegetables or meat to which is added fermented cheese, soya beans and herbs.

Khura is a pancake, had with tea.

Gyapa khazi is a kind of pulao made of rice, fermented cheese, small dried fish or shrimp, chillies ginger and other spices.



Unfortunately, Tawang like most hill stations in the North East is far from developed, so finding good accommodation here may be a challenge. However, the flip side is the lack of tourism leaves the place more virgin and unexplored.

Apart from Tawang Inn which is the most modern and comfortable option in Tawang, most other options are pretty basic. Hotel Tawang View has the best views from their second-floor basic rooms of both the Gompa and snow topped mountains. Most hotels are in the market area. It is worth trying your luck at the government rest-house, or if you are lucky, the Circuit house.

Go next[edit]

  • Assam via Bhalukpung Orchid Sanctuary. An amazing variety of orchids grown in gardens and under glass.

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