Erstwhile Tawang District was a Sub-Division of West Kameng District till 5th October 1984. This district is situated in western most part of Arunachal Pradesh. The area of this district is approximately 2,172 Sq.km, bounded by Tibet (China) to the north, Bhutan to the south-west and Sela ranges separated from West Kament district in the east.
The name of Tawang is believed to have derived its name from the grandiose of Tawang Monastery perched on the edge of the ridge running along the western part of Tawang township. The popular interpretation is that the name “Tawang” was given by his holiness the Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso.
“TA” means Horse and “Wang” means Chosen. As legend goes the site of the present Monastery is believed to have chosen by a Horse owned by Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso. Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso was on search for an appropriate place to establish a Monastery and was unable to locate any appropriate site. Finally he decided to sit on prayer for a guidance of a divine power. As he opened his eyes after prayer, he found his horse missing. So wearily he went out for searching his horse and found it on top of hill calm and quite. Believed it a good omen, Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso decided to initiate a work for building up of Monastery with the help of people living across the land of Monpa in the later part of 17th century according to the whises of 5th Dalai Lama.
At the instance of the Government of India, the first administrative centre at Tawang was set-up on 6th February 1951 by Major Bob Khating, a Naga officer of the Indian Frontier Administrative Service (IAS) and then Assistant Political officer at Charduar.
In 1984, on 6th October, this Tawang Sub-Division came into a full-fledged district carved out from West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The latest administrative pattern of Tawang District is divided into three (3) Sub-Divisions viz-Tawang Sub-Division, Lumla Sub-Division and Jang Sub-Division. This district is comprised of ten (10) administrative centers namely Zemithang, Lumla, Dudunghar, Tawang, Kitpi, Jang, Mukto,Bongkhar,Thingbu and Lhou circle.The Deputy Commissioner being the overall in charge and District Magistrate of the district maintains law and order with the help of Administrative officers and Political officers. He also looks after the developmental activities of the district.
The Assam Frontier (Administrative of Justice) Regulation, 1945 authorizes the village councils to settle all civil matters and certain criminal matter falling within their jurisdictions. However, for all matters, the Deputy Commissioner and other administrative officers have jurisdiction under the supervision of Assam High Court who hold the Appellate and Revision Authority.
The Panchayat Raj has been introduced in the district with the North East Frontier Agency Panchayat Regulation, 1967. This Panchayat Raj consists of three (3) tier system viz-Gram Panchayat Body exist at the village lever, the Anchal Samiti at the Block or Anchal level and the Zilla Parishad operates at the district lever. The regulation provides for the effective participation of the people of in the administrative of Arunachal Pradesh through the institution set-up under the Panchayat Raj Scheme.
The district consists of continuous chain of hills and mountains, the altitude of which varies from 3500 feet to 22500 feet approximately. The highest mountain peak in the district is known as “GOURICHEN” which is 22500 feet approximately from the mean sea level.The everest like chongchongma mountain peak which 14000 feet approximately and the sprawling ranges of shangfu hills are situated near Bleting-the border village of Tawang district. The sky kissing Gourichen and her sister mountains clad in their white snow capped apparels. Lofty Geshila ranges consisting of mountainous in the form of a line are not far from Tawang town and it looks like a protection wall of the district head quarter. The high hills and mountains are snow-bound area in winter season where no habitation exists. There are two main rivers in the district namely-Tawang –Chu and Nymjang-Chu. These rivers are fed by numbers of turbulent tributaries running through wild mountains and gorges.
FLOARA AND FAUNA
A wide variety of tree species, blue pines and Orchids grow in natural splendor in the friendly company of precious herbal and medicinal plants. Quite typical high altitude birds, mammals, reptiles, snow leopard, must deer, barking deer, bear and other animals for lick freely without fear as the Monpa people do not practice hunting and trapping.
The inhabitants of this district are all of Monpa tribe. The Monpa belongs to the Mongoloid stock. They are well built, fair in complexion and medium to tall in structure. The Monpas are friendly, courteous, mild, gentle, unassuming temperament and naturally they extend wonderful hospitality to the visitors of their homeland.
The significance of the Monpa village is the presence of Gompa (village Monastery) situated on the top of the hill and surrounded by a number of prayer flags (Phan), stone shrines (Mane) and Sthupa shaped structures called “CHORTEN” on the road and lane side. The houses are usually double or triple stories made mainly of stones and timbers. Each house genrally has a family chapel with a statue of Lord Buddha.
The Tawang Monastery is one the most important elements in the social and religious life of the Monpa. The Monpas are Buddhist by religion and religious beliefs and practices are centered round the Tawang Monastery.
The second son in a family of three sons is expected to join the Monastery and his brothers when they attain maturity make some religious contribution to the institution for its sustenance in the shape of grains, butter, firewood etc.
The Buddhist prayer flags are printed in Tibetan script “OM MANE PEME HUNG” which means “HAIL TO HIM WHO IS BORN AS A JEWEL IN A LOTUS”. The Monpas believe that in which ever direction the flag flutters the atmosphere gets purified because of “OM MANE PEME HUNG” which is printed on the prayer flags.
FAIRS AND FESTIVAL
Fairs and festivals have always been an integral part of the Monpa Tribe of Tawang district. The festivals of Monpas are mostly associated with agriculture and religion. Monpas of Tawang district celebrates numbers of festivals every year. Some important festivals are-Losar, Torgya, Dungyur, Choekor, Ganden Ggamchoe, Drukpa, Tse-ze and Zhepa Saka Dawa etc.
Two major festivals namely “DUNGYUR”and “TORGYA” festival are celebrated in the premises of the Tawang Monastery. The people from all parts of the district come on these auspicious occasions and enjoy with cheer and joy. Dungyur festival is celebrated once in three years. The Torgya festival is a Monastic festival being celebrated in the month of January every year. At the occasion of this festival a monastic dances are performed in the courtyard of the Tawang Monastery.
Losar festival is also one of the major festivals of Monpa people, which is celebrated in the last part of February and early part of March every year to commemorate the “New Year”.