‘Enchanting Tawang”, the land of the Monpas is a small district blessed with breathtaking natural beauty, situated in the Northwestern extremity of the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Tawang was initially a sub-division of the neighboring West Kameng District and became a full-fledged district with its headquarters at Tawang town on 6th October 1984. It is bounded by Tibet (China) in the North, Bhutan on the West and the Southwest and West Kameng district on the Eastern and Southeastern side. It is the cradle of Buddhism in this part of the country being the Birthplace of His Holiness the VIth Lama and being home to the World famous Gaden Namgyal Lhatse, popularly known as Tawang Monastery, which is the largest monastery of India and is said to be the second largest in Asia.
Home to the mild, good-humored and the industrious Monpa people, the region was previously known as Monyul meaning the land of the Monpas. As to how the place later on came to be known as Tawang, there are varying versions amongst the scholars. The most popular version is that in the late 1681, Merag Lama travelled to this area in search of a site for building a new monastery for the Gelugpa sect of Mahayana Buddhism. While he was meditating, his horse wondered away and came upon this spot which was considered as a good omen for the monastery and therefore, Mera Lama called it ‘Ta (Horse) Wang (Chosen)’ ‘Tawang’. Another source reflects that the Great treasure master Padma Lingpa gave initiations such as of Kagyad and Tamdring Tantras and hence, the place came to be known as Tawang, Ta- being the abbreviation of Tamdring, and Wang meaning initiation.
The district being entirely located amongst the mighty Himalayas has a rugged terrain with deep valleys and altitude ranging between 3500 feet to 22,500 feet from the mean sea level. Due to its elevation and geographic location, the district generally has a cold climate for most of the year though there are significant climatic variations in the district based on the altitude and location of the place. The main rivers of the district are the Tawang Chu & the Nyamjang-Chu. The Tawang Chu originates from the Gorichen mountain ranges and flows westward along the valleys of Tawang and Lumla. The Nyamjang Chu originates from the Tibetan plateau and enters India at Khinze-mani (the point of entry of the XIVth Dalai Lama into India) flowing down through the Zimithang valley and ultimately meeting with the Tawang Chu at Kungba village before entering Bhutan.
Owing to its rich and unique culture & beautiful locales, the district is a premier tourist destination of the state and Northeastern India, attracting thousands of tourists annually apart from the arrival of pilgrims in huge numbers from Bhutan & other parts of India to the Tawang monastery and other important religious sites & monasteries of the district.