Tawang perched at a height of over 10,000 ft, is world-renowned for its 400-year-old Buddhist Monastery, one of the biggest in India. The Monastery was founded by the monk Mera Lama, a contemporary of the fifth Dalai Lama. The sixth Dalai Lama was born here. The Tawang Monastery has an interesting collection of Thangkas (Tibetan painting on cloth) and a large gilded statue of Sakyamuni (the historical Buddha) in the prayer hall. The Tawang Monastery, also known as the 'Galden Namgyal Lhatse', is beautifully situated on a spur about 2 km from the heart of the town.
Tawang is inhabited by the Monpa people. From 500 BC to 600 AD a kingdom known as Lhomon or Monyul ruled the area. The Monyul kingdom was later absorbed into the control of neighbouring Bhutan and Tibet.
Tawang Monastery was founded by the Merak Lama Lodre Gyatso in 1681 in accordance with the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, and has an interesting legend surrounding its name, which means "Chosen by Horse". The sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, was born in Tawang.
Tawang was historically part of Tibet. The 1914 Simla Accord defined the McMahon Line as the new boundary between British India and Tibet. By this treaty Tibet relinquished several hundred square miles of its territory, including Tawang, to the British, but it was not recognised by China. However, the British did not take possession of Tawang and Tibet continued to administer and collect taxes in Tawang. When the British botanist Frank Kingdon-Ward crossed the Sela Pass and entered Tawang in 1935 without permission from Tibet, he was briefly arrested. This drew the attention of the British, who reexamined the Indo-Tibetan border and rediscovered that Tibet had ceded Tawang to British India. Tibet did not repudiate the Simla Accord and the McMahon Line but refused to surrender Tawang, partly because of the importance attached to the Tawang Monastery. In 1938 the British made a cautious move to assert sovereignty over Tawang by sending a small military column under Capt. G.S. Lightfoot to Tawang.
The Tawang Monastery was founded by the Mera Lama Lodre Gyatso in accordance to the wishes of the 5th Dalai Lama, Nagwang Lobsang Gyatso. The monastery belongs to the Gelugpa sect and is the largest Buddhist monastery in India. It is associated with Drepung Monastery in Lhasa. The name Tawang means Chosen Horse. It is also known by another Tibetan name, Galden Namgey Lhatse, which means a true name within a celestial paradise in a clear night.
Ziro is around 115 km from the state capital Itanagar and takes approx 3 and a half hours via the improved Hoj-Potin road along NH229 and 150 km via the Assam route. Earlier the nearest railway station from Ziro was located at North Lakhimpur in Assam near the Arunachal-Assam border which is around 100 km from Ziro.
Ziro is the district headquarters of Lower Subansiri district and is one of the oldest towns in Arunachal Pradesh. It was the headquarters of the undivided Subansiri district comprising the present districts of Upper Subsansiri, Kurung Kumey, Lower Subansiri and Papum Pare. It is located at 27.63°N 93.83°E at an elevation of 1688 metres (5538 feet) to 2438 meters (8000 feet). Its cool weather in summer is its major attraction. It is famous for its pine-clad gentle hills around it and rice field all around. Ziro is home to the Apatani tribe.
Apatanis have few unique special characteristic features which differs from other tribes in Arunachal Pradesh and India. Few of these special characteristic features are: (A) Apatanis are permanently settled in one place whereas other tribes are nomadic in nature move from one place to another in search of fertile lands. They travel vast area of forests and settle temporarily for not more than four to five years in one place. (B) Apatanis cultivate permanent wet land cultivations whereas other tribes practice dry land cultivations by clearing the forests by burning the jungles. (C) Apatanis used to practice facial tattoos before; now they have dropped this custom few decades back.
Ziro is included as in India's Tentative List for UNESCO's World Heritage Site.
In the foothills or low high belt area of the district, the climatic condition is moderate in comparison to high belt areas, where during winter is very cold and chill, and in summer is pleasant. December and January are generally the coldest month, and July and August are warmest months.