Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh is the largest monastery in India. It was founded near the small town of the same name in the northwestern part of Arunachal Pradesh state of India by Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1680-1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa school and has a religious association with Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, which continued during the period of British rule. It is very close to the Tibetan border, in the valley of the Tawang-chu which flows down from Tibet.
The monastery is three stories high and occupies an area of 140 sq m. It is enclosed by a 610 m long compound wall. Within the complex there are 65 residential buildings and 10 other structures. Tawang Monastery is one of the largest monasteries of Mahayana sect in Asia. The monastery is also known in Tibetan as Galden Namgey Lhatse, which translates to 'celestial paradise in a clear night.' The library of the monastery has valuable old scriptures, mainly Kanjur and Tanjur, numbering 850 bundles.
The monastery is at an elevation of about 3,300 metres (10,000 ft) in the district capital, Tawang Town. It has a capacity of about 700 monks and presently is home to more than 450 lamas It is said to be one of the biggest Buddhist monasteries in the World outside of Lhasa, Tibet.
It also houses the three-storied Parkhang library: a collection of 400-year-old Kangyur scriptures in addition to many other invaluable manuscripts. Other large collections include the Sutras, Tangym, Sungbhum, old books and other manuscripts, both handwritten and printed, many of them in gold. Dances and ceremonial celebrations are held in the courtyard, the most important of which is held on the night of Buddha Poornima.
Tawang Monastery was founded by the Mera Lama Lodre Gyasto in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso. It belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is the largest Buddhist monastery in India. The name Tawang means Horse Chosen. Its name (ta = horse, and wang = chosen) is the subject of an interesting legend. As the story goes, the site of the monastery was chosen by the horse of Merag Lama who had been unable to decide on a site to establish the monastery.
One day he was praying in cave, seeking divine guidance. When he came out after the prayers, he found his horse missing. On searching, the horse was located standing quietly on a hilltop. Considering this as a sign of divine blessing, he decided to construct the monastery at the very spot. The monastery was built with the help of volunteers from the neighboring villages. It is also known by a Tibetan name, Galden Namgey Lhatse, which means 'celestial paradise in a clear night'.