India Develops Chumi Gyatse Falls in Arunachal for Religious Tourism

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News Desk

Chumi Gyatse Falls is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in Arunachal Pradesh of Northeast India. It  is the littleknown Chumi Gyatse Falls, colloquially referred to as the ‘Holy Waterfalls’-a collection of 108 waterfalls on the India-China border. It is located in Tsechu village. (Tawang District) Just 250 metres away from the LAC. (Yangtse Area-which is one of the disputed regions along the McMohan line)

According to the residents, the origin of the Holy Waterfalls is attributed to “a show of power” between a Bon Lama (monk) and Guru Padmasambhava, also regarded as the ‘Second Buddha’ by followers of Tibetan-Buddhism.

Monpa is one of Arunachal’s major tribes, with its population scattered in Tawangand West Kamengdistricts. The Falls are highly revered by Tibetan Buddhists or Monpas on both sides of the border. Monpas also live in China controlled Tibet.

Over the last year, the Arunachal government and Indian Army have sought to develop the area around the falls, as a tourist site. It is located in a remote area. The connectivity has improved recently and the roads are well maintained by the district administration and the Indian Army at present. This will help boost religious and cultural tourism in the border areas and enable pilgrims to visit the sacred site.

Pilgrims from Tawang, Bomdilla, Derangand different parts of Arunachal visit the Holy Waterfalls, with the footfalls having increased considerably due to the new roads. The visitors offer prayers and also fill up bottles with the holy water believed to have healing properties.

Although Indian authority thinks that Padmasambhava was born and brought up in Odisha before he left for Tibet, China claims the birthplace of Guru Padmasambhava was in Tibet, while also trying to lay claim on the disputed Yangtse grazing grounds in Arunachal. (a sacred cave complex where Guru Padmasambhavameditated is located in Tibet.)

During a recently conducted Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs meeting, the Indian government had proposed to the Chinese side to allow Tibetan pilgrims to visit the Holy Water Falls, but no approval was granted. However, there is no much of information about the Chinese activity to develop the spot on its side of the falls.

According to Tsering[1] , the Chinese have not created problems so far, at Chumi Gyatse. There is a long boundary with China, and the inhabitants of both the sides interact each other at Bum La border. It is peaceful and calm.


[1] Tsering Wangdu Shakya(born 1959) is a historian and scholar on Tibetan literature and modern Tibet and its relationship with China. He is currently Canadian Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia where he teaches in the Master of Arts Asia Pacific Policy Studies (MAAPPS) program, and also works for Radio Free Asia.
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