Urgelling Monastery – Oasis of Peace
Located on the outskirts of Tawang town, Urgelling Monastery was built around AD 1487. Almost two centuries later Tsangyang Gyatso, H.H. the Sixth Dalai Lama, was born here in 1683. Miraculous deeds were attributed to him, one of which is recounted on a plaque outside the temple. It reads, “Legend has it that at the time of leaving for Tibet, Tsangyang Gyatso planted his walking stick and prophesied that he would once again visit Tawang when all three trunks that would grow out of it had attained equal heights. Truly it happened, but unfortunately one of the trunks broke in 1959 due to strong wind, an ominous sign. Soon afterward the people of Tawang saw H.H. the Dalai Lama coming once again, this time as the great fourteenth on his way to India in exile.”
Before entering the temple for worship, pilgrims can visit a purification fountain in a small enclave where water and a ladle are kept ready, shown here with the auspicious white right-coiled conch in the background.
To the right of the main entrance there is a narrow hall where eight prayer wheels are housed. Here pilgrims can burn incense and perform a candle lighting ceremony in which conical terracotta lamps are used. The atmosphere inside is very calm and almost uplifting as opposed to being sombre.
Just off the monastery’s main courtyard, perched on the spur of a forested hillside, is an ornately painted awning which houses a large golden Dharma wheel. With the help of a small railing, it can be sent turning in a clockwise direction and circumambulated under recitation of the sacred mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum”.