This is first of the two-part series on the Golden Pagoda in Namsai, Arunachal Pradesh. Namsai is aptly known as the ‘Abode of Theravada Buddhism’
PART – 1
By Dr Monideepa Das
One of the highlights of my recent trip to my hometown Dibrugarh in Assam, was my visit to the Golden Pagoda Monastery at Tengapani in Namsai, a foothill district in the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The ‘All Girls’ trip was all the more exciting as it was planned and led by my sister-in-law cum soul-sister Sikha so that my friend Apalaka, my younger sister-in-law Binita and I were left to enjoy the trip to the fullest.
We set off mid-morning and the drive from Dibrugarh to Namsai took us two-and-a-half hours. As Arunachal borders neighbouring China and is a security sensitive zone, we had to obtain a ‘permit’ pass at Dirak Gate to enter the North-eastern state.
With the the Noa-Dihing River flowing past, Namsai derives its name from the Tai-Khamti words Nam meaning water and Sai meaning sand, which put together mean ‘sandy water’.
The entire district of Namsai is dotted with pagodas, viharas, monastic and meditation centres and hence it is aptly known as ‘Abode of Theravada Buddhism’ and ‘Land of Pagodas’.
We reached the vast premises of the Golden Pagoda Eco Resort spread on the hillock, Noi-Cheynam around noon. After check-in we were guided to two well-furnished cottages adjacent to each other. Standing on the veranda and peering through the fruit and flowering trees of the sprawling garden, I caught the first glorious glimpse of the top tiers of the Golden Pagoda.
After a tasty lunch, we set off to explore Chongkham – a nearby village, once acknowledged as the richest village in Asia. It is said that the numerous passes in the Patkai (Himalayan) Range of this region provided the gateway through which the Ahoms poured into Assam from Burma to establish 600 years of Ahom rule in Assam. Centuries later, the Tai-Khamtis established their rule in Sadiya and Tengapani. This historic village boasts of numerous pagodas and shrines.
We stopped at Buddha Vihara and as we stepped in through the gate into its open courtyard, we caught sight of several pagodas in distinct Burmese style with beautiful carvings of the Buddha in their niches. There were temples with idols of Lord Buddha in various postures, illustrating incidents from his life.
The huge reclining Buddha dressed in a golden robe was especially captivating. The campus was also home to many other statues and structures conforming to Buddhist form of architecture. We stopped at the Chongkham Pagoda and the Khamoon Sutongpe Stupa, located just a couple of metres away before returning to the resort.
END OF PART I
Photographs by Sikha Borah
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Dr. Monideepa Das, with a Post-Graduate degree in Medicine from Assam Medical College Dibrugarh, she is a Physician by profession and a homemaker by choice. Penning down thoughts, ideas, experiences and travelogues is her passion. Travelling and cooking are her other deep interests.