The monks who protect the Bhagajang wetland

By Ranju Dodum
Mint Lounge
March 13, 2021

At an elevation of above 4,000 metres in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, the wetland complex has around 20 high-altitude lakes.

Wangchuk is a Buddhist monk from the Monpa tribe that traditionally live in the West Kameng and Tawang districts of the state. Scattered groups of the tribe are also said to reside across international borders in Bhutan and China. For centuries, the Monpa have been adherents of Tibetan Buddhism and Tawang houses the largest monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in the country and is second in size only to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.

Founded in around 1680-81, the Tawang Monastery’s Tibetan name is Gaden Namgyal Lhatse (celestial paradise in a clear night), and was affiliated to the Drepung Monastery in Tibet until the Chinese occupation. Located at around 3,000 metres above sea level, the monastery’s complex reportedly houses around 500 monks.

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