Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, arrived in this picturesque town in Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday on a four-day visit which has drawn widespread interest in the wake of objections raised by China.
The 74-year-old Tibetan monk, who flew in Tawang from Guwahati by a helicopter, was received at the helipad by Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu and other ministers.
The 14th Dalai Lama, who will be staying in the 300-year- old Tawang Monastery, will hold religious discourses for the Buddhist community. The visit coincides with 50 years of his arrival in Tawang in 1959 after a failed uprising in Tibet against China.
Nestled among the snow-capped mountains and perched at a height of 10,000 feet, Tawang has been spruced up for the visit of the "living god" with colourful posters carrying his pictures and Tibetan and Indian flags flying everywhere. Buildings and houses have been given a fresh coat of paint and streets and localities cleaned to mark the occasion.
A security blanket has been thrown in the town, close to the borders with China and Myanmar, with the administration making all efforts to ensure a peaceful stay for the Tibetan leader whose visit has been resented to by China which has laid claim to the sensitive border state.
Objecting to the visit, China has said it "further exposes" the anti-China and "separatist nature" of the "Dalai clique". However, India has made it clear that the "honoured" guest was free to go anywhere in the country.
The Dalai Lama has also hit out at China for objecting to the visit, saying it reflected a "negative" attitude, as his trip was not political.
The Tibetan monk had come to India through Tawang in 1959. He has also visited the town in 1983, 1997 and 2003. He paid two visits in 2003 and during one of them he had skipped Tawang to visit the western side of the state dominated by the followers of the Mahayana sect of the Buddhism.
The Nobel laureate is scheduled to hold discourses at the Tawang monastery from November 9 to 11, at nearby Dirang on November 12, in Bomdial on November 13 and in capital Itanagar on November 14.
He is scheduled to inaugurate a museum, containing historic scriptures of the Buddhist religion, lead prayer sessions and unveil a library of the monastery school at the Centre for Buddhist Culture Studies.
The Tibetan temporal head will also inaugurate a modern hospital at Tawang for which he has donated Rs 20 lakh.
Cooks have been trained for a month to serve the Dalai Lama's favourite fare, while gifts have been stocked for him for quite some time, said Tulku Rimpoche, head of the Tawang Monastery which is hosting him.
The spiritual leader will be staying in a special suite, which has been spruced up. Keeping in view the presence of a large number of devotees, tourists, foreigners and mediapersons, the district administration has made elaborate security arrangements. They have also declared a holiday till November 12, when the Dalai Lama's visit will conclude.
Earlier in the day, the Dalai Lama arrived in Guwahati via Kolkata and was received and seen off at the airport by Assam Revenue Minister Bhumidhar Barman.