Amid China opposition, Dalai Lama reaches Tawang after 7-hour road journey

The exiled Tibetan leader Dalai Lama reached Tawang after a seven-hour road journey from Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2017 16:32 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Dalai Lama,Tawang,China Dalai Lama
Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama reached Tawang after a seven-hour journey from Dirang.(PTI File Photo)

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Friday reached Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang, which China claims as its own and wants desperately enough to offer a swap for Aksai Chin,

The exiled leader reached Tawang after a seven-hour road journey from Dirang in Arunachal. He was to have reached Tawang by chopper from Guwahati on April 4, but bad weather forced him to take the 550 km road from Guwahati.

Dalai Lama’s first stop was Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district, from where the Chinese soldiers had retreated after the 1962 war. After a day of delivering sermon in Bomdila, he spent two days at Dirang, about 40km north, where he consecrated the Thupsing Dhargye monastery.

“His Holiness left Dirang in the morning (Friday),” said an officer of the West Kameng district administration.

State police and paramilitary personnel kept a vigil along the 140-km stretch between Dirang and Tawang, particularly at Sela (13,700 feet) en route. A 30-km stretch at Sela is partly snow-covered, wet because of melting snow, muddy and slippery.

A series of religious discourses by the Dalai Lama will begin on Saturday and he will stay at the Tawang monastery for four nights before leaving on April 11.

Security has been strengthened around the monastery, the Yid-Ga-Choezin ground where the spiritual leader will deliver his sermon. The town of some 11,200 people otherwise has only one police station with 15 personnel at most.

The 336-year-old Tawang monastery is the largest monastery in India and second largest in the world after the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.

Perched on a cliff at 10,000 feet, Tawang monastery is known in Tibetan as Tawang Gaden Namgyal Lhatse that means a “celestial paradise chosen by the horse”. It belongs to the Gelugpa school of Mahayana Buddhism and had a religious connection with Lhasa’s Drepung Monastery that continued during the British rule.

Beijing refers to this connection to claim Tawang as part of China after invading and taking over Tibet in 1950. The Dalai Lama was compelled to flee Lhasa in 1959 and cross over to India by foot via the Tawang sector.

First Published: Apr 07, 2017 15:02 IST