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Dalai Lama reaches Tawang, to stay for four nights

LiveMint logoLiveMint 07-04-2017 PTI

Tawang: The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama arrived in Tawang on Friday along with Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu amid protests by China.

The exiled Tibetan leader was to reach Tawang by chopper on 4 April but due to bad weather, he had to travel over 550 kilometre by road from Guwahati to reach Tawang. He covered 140 km by road from Dirang in West Kameng district accompanied by Khandu with a 30-km stretch of the route at Sela being partly snow-covered and having turned muddy and slippery due to the melting snow.

The state police and paramilitary personnel are keeping vigil along the 140-km stretch between Dirang and Tawang, particularly at Sela (13,700 feet). His first stop was Bomdila, the headquarters of West Kameng district, from where Chinese soldiers retreated after the 1962 war.

A day after delivering sermons in Bomdila, he spent two days at Dirang, about 40 km north of Bomdila, where he consecrated the Thupsing Dhargye monastery. Tawang has been decorated with colourful prayer flags and flowers with the roads repainted and the drains cleaned.

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“A series of religious discourses by the Dalai Lama will begin tomorrow. He will stay at the Tawang monastery for four nights before leaving on 11 April,” Tawang deputy commissioner Sang Phuntso said. Security has been strengthened around the Tawang monastery, the Yid-Ga-Choezin ground where the spiritual leader will deliver his sermons.

The 336-year-old monastery is the largest in India and second largest in the world after Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Perched on a cliff at 10,000 feet, Tawang monastery is known in Tibetan as ‘Tawang Gaden Namgyal Lhatse,’ meaning celestial paradise chosen by the horse. It belongs to the Gelugpa school of Mahayana Buddhism and had 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. Chinese state media had said on Wednesday that India is using the Dalai Lama as a diplomatic leverage to challenge China’s “bottom line.” The Dalai Lama was compelled to flee Lhasa in 1959 and cross over to India by foot via the Tawang sector.

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