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Dalai Lama's escape trail being developed as spiritual tourism spot in Arunachal

Little-known Lumla in western Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang district would soon be on the national tourism map. The young Dalai Lama had passed through, even stayed, in this area during his escape from Lhasa to India in 1959.
Last Updated 23 February 2024, 07:06 IST

Itanagar: The Arunachal Pradesh government is developing the escape trail of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, from where he entered India, into a spiritual and religious tourism circuit.

Little-known Lumla in western Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang district would soon be on the national tourism map. The young Dalai Lama had passed through, even stayed, in this area during his escape from Lhasa to India in 1959.

The project is being executed by the Public Works Department.

"We are developing the escape trail of His Holiness into a religious and spiritual tourism circuit which is going on. As many as five monoliths will be constructed in each place where the Dalai Lama spent the night during his journey to India from Tibet", Tsering Lhamu the Lumla MLA told PTI.

In 1959, when the Chinese crackdown on Tibet seemed inevitable and the Tibet uprising had reached the palace of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama at Lhasa, he along with family members and a few aides escaped to India. The escape trail was through the business route Tibet (Tsona) to Khen-Dze-mani under the Zemithang circle in Tawang district.

On March 31, 1959, the Dalai Lama and a group of eight people along with another group of eighty people were received officially at Khen-Dze-Mani by the political officer of Tawang, the 5 Assam Rifles and the people of Zemithang.

A small gate known as 'Lhasa Dwar', the point where the Dalai Lama entered India, is marked by the 'Holy Tree', which is said to have grown from a staff dug by the Dalai Lama. It is now worshipped as a relic marking the historic event.

Another notable point of interest in this area is a hanging bridge on the Indian side, followed by the Lhasa Dwar.

Gorsam Chorten, a little far from Lhasa Dwar, is one of the largest stupas of Buddhism, located 90 km from Tawang. It was founded by a Monpa monk Lama Pradhar in the 12th century and is the largest Buddhist stupa in the region. Monpa is a major tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.

People say after he entered Zemithang, the Dalai Lama stayed in the Gorsam Chorten for a day.

Zemithang is now being developed as a vibrant village in Tawang district under the Centre's vibrant village programme.

Lhamu informed that two gompas at Thonglek and Lumla areas were completed as part of the project and one museum is also coming up at Lumla which will display various artefacts related to the Dalai Lama.

District Tourism Officer of Tawang Tsering Dickey said that early last year, a team from the department accompanied by the then tourism secretary Sadhna Deori visited the trail site from where the Dalai Lama entered India to explore the feasibility of developing it into a tourist circuit.

To add impetus to the tourism sector, a 113 feet Maitreya Buddha (Future Buddha) statue, is coming up at Buri along the Indo-Bhutan border, under the NE scheme of Swadesh Darshan of the Union Tourism ministry for the development of Bhalukpong-Bomdila-Tawang tourism circuit.

Swadesh Darshan scheme is one of the flagship schemes of the ministry for the development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritised manner. Under the scheme, the government is focussing on the development of quality infrastructure with the objective of providing better experience and facilities to visitors on one hand and on other hand fostering economic growth.

The ministry during 2014-15 sanctioned the circuit under the scheme with an allocation of Rs 49.77 crore. Under the project, the ministry has developed facilities like accommodation, cafeteria, wayside amenities, last mile connectivity, pathways, toilets, multipurpose hall at Jang, Sorang Monastery, Lumpo, Zemithang, Bumla Pass, Gritsang TSO lake, PTSO Lake, Thingbu and Grenkha Hot Spring, Lumla, Sela Lake.

In 2015-16, the Tourism ministry sanctioned another circuit under the scheme for the state for development of Nafra- Seppa- Pappu, Pasa, Pakke Valleys- Sangdupota- New Sagalee- Ziro- Yomcha, with an allocation of Rs 97.14 crore.

"The Maitreya Buddha statue has already been completed and work on the surroundings is going on," the MLA disclosed and added that she is planning to organise an annual event to woo more tourists.

The Lumla MLA said the Gorsam Chorten gompa at Zemithang attracts tourists from Nepal and Bhutan during the Kora festival in March every year.

Zemithang is also an important site for naturalists and ornithologists. After all, it is the favourite site for the Black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis) that migrates from Siberia. Nearby, Ngyang-Chu is famous for the Red panda (Ailurus fulgens).

"We are planning to develop these places as adventure tourist spots and are contemplating to organise a red panda or black-necked crane festival soon to attract adventure lovers. The birds from Siberia usually visit the site in November-December every year and stay till March. We impose restrictions on human movements so that the winged visitors are not disturbed", Lhamu added.

Incidentally, the black-necked crane is also revered by Tibetan Buddhists for centuries as a symbol of peace.

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(Published 23 February 2024, 07:06 IST)

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