The diversity of tribal culture and rich Buddhist heritage of Arunachal Pradesh are as much attractive to visitors as are its wildlife and unexplored natural sightseeing. The remote north eastern state is home to a number of Buddhist shrines and monasteries. These monasteries have become points of attractions for pilgrims and visitors with religious bent of mind. The Urgelling monastery, located close to the town of Tawang is one such instance.
Nuances of the Urgelling monastery
It may not be as majestic or famous as the Tawang monastery but that does not necessarily underscore is significant as a Buddhist pilgrimage spot in Arunachal. The sacred monastery is actually the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama. It’s located a few kms from the Tawang town and the serenity of the place is amazing as is its surrounding mountain landscape. The monastery overlooks the amazing and enticing Tawang-Chu valley. Its origin lies in late 15th century. The monastery was set up by Urgen Sangpo. The Sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso was born here in 1683 AD. After the birth of the sixth Dalai Lama, Urgelling monastery became a major center for devotees of Mahayana school of Budhism.
Exploring the monastery
There is a main temple which is double storied and it has modern day architecture. An altar room, a chapel and assembly hall is there too. For the monks and lamas, a courtyard with several rooms was also set up. Desi Sangye Gyamtso revamped the monastery in 1699. However, the monastery was ravaged by Lajang Khan in 1706 who toppled the sixth Dalai Lama. A lot of statues, scriptures and treasured possessions of the monastery were demolished during that invasion. Some of the belongings were sent to the Tawang Monastery. The present setup houses a single temple along with shelters for housing monks.
Festivals held at the monastery
Like other Buddhist monasteries, a number of important festivals are organized by the Urgelling monastery each year. Torgya and Losar are among major festivals held at the monastery. These festivals have durations of 3 and 15 days respectively. Apart from that, the monks celebrate festivals like Dukpa Tse-Shi and Saka Dawa.
Tips for the visitors
You can visit Urgelling monastery any time but visiting the place during the festival days is advisable. Watching the resident monks carrying out their rituals and performing events in their authentic attires is a visual treat. The monastery itself is also adorned beautifully during these festivals. From Tawang, reaching this monastery is easy and you can hire cabs or walk.