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.”

Water poured in the right hand passes to one’s mouth and over the crown of one’s head

Water poured in the right hand passes to one’s mouth and over the crown of one’s head

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.

A Place of Serene Contemplation

A Place of Serene Contemplation

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.

Prayer Wheels and Lamps

Prayer Wheels and Lamps

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”.

The opulent Golden Wheel of Buddhadharma at Urgelling Monastery near Tawang

The opulent Golden Wheel of Buddhadharma at Urgelling Monastery near Tawang

2 Comments on “Urgelling Monastery – Oasis of Peace

  1. So much history. This is fascinating to me. If only these walls could talk!!

    • Indeed, the high middle ages in Tawang were times of castles, feudal chieftains, intrigue and splendour. Thankfully, landmarks here are well preserved and history lives on in them!

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