A Short Day Trip to Namsai, Golden Pagoda

The Golden Pagoda located in Namsai, Arunachal Pradesh was a place I always wanted to visit but for one reason or the other the plans were getting canceled. Namsai was just a few kilometers from my in-law’s place in Margherita, and the known route was via Kakopather in Tinsukia district. But apparently there was another route via Kharsang, Arunachal Pradesh. The road conditions was good and the travel time needed was shorter. I was a little apprehensive because I knew the road would be deserted as it was a road less taken. But nonetheless my traveler soul was ready to tread on this unknown path.

Golden Pagoda, Namsai

Winter break started from 24th December and on 25th December we were all ready to visit the Golden Pagoda. It was a chilly morning, the winter weather finally kicking in after the bright sunny days. For a second I just wanted to ditch the plan because we had 3 kids with us on the trip and the weather was just so cold. But on a second thought I knew that there might not be another chance very soon.

It was already 11 am by the time we started our trip. After passing Jagun and crossing Namchik Beat Office, under Jagun range there’s a roundabout. Towards right is Namchik, left leads to Namsai and straight to Miao and Namdapha. We took the left and the next half an hour drive through open fields made up for a perfect road trip. There was not much settlement in the area and absolutely no traffic, just a couple of cars we met on the way. The road conditions were good too. At the diversion at the end of the road, we took the right which leads towards the Golden Pagoda, and the left leads towards Tinsukia.

Tung Tao Resort, Namsai

After another 30 minutes drive we reached the entry gate of the Golden Pagoda, but it was already 1.30 pm and so we decided to have our lunch first. To be precise the drive from Margherita to Golden Pagoda would be of around 2 hours, but with kids we were keeping our own speed with quick stops in between, so it took us extra time. We have heard about this resort called Tung Tao, which created much hype after its opening because of its location. So we asked for directions from locals to reach this place. It took us another 30 minutes drive through paddy fields, broken roads, small villages and we finally reached Tung Tao at 2 pm. It was a small isolated resort with a beautiful landscape. We straightaway ordered lunch but were told the serving time is 1 hour because of the holiday rush. We had no other option but to wait.

The reception cum bar area called the fisherman’s deck

The kids loved the place and ran around enjoying to the fullest. There was a restaurant area with only thatched roof but ample seating space. Also there was a fisherman’s deck which is the reception area cum bar. It was a wooden structure in the middle of a stream, the pathway leading to it was also wooden. The bar as well as the entire deck had seating space. By the time we finished lunch it was 4 pm already and by 4.30 pm we entered the Golden Pagoda premises.

The night view of Golden Pagoda, the Kongmu Kham in local language, is really magnificent. As we parked our car, it started drizzling, which I personally consider auspicious. We covered our heads with our jackets and entered the gates. The main structure houses a gilded statue of Buddha. The area of 49 acres is beautifully landscaped with gardens and also houses a centre for cultural research of the Tai-Khamti-Singpho tribes, a library and a monastery. The Golden Pagoda is a Burmese style Buddhist temple opened in 2010. There is an ethnic stall inside the premise with handcrafted items and local food items for sale.

The Kathina festival is the main festival celebrated at the Golden Pagoda. It is a Buddhist festival which comes at the end of Vassa, the three month rainy season retreat for Theravada Buddhists. This is a one month long ceremony beginning after the full moon of the eleventh month in the lunar calendar. One of the main attraction of the event is the Loi-Krathong ceremony in which floating lamps are released into the Mungchalinda Buddha pond.

Thai Buddhist monks attended this ceremony in 2016 and presented a kalpataru (money tree) and an image of Buddha on behalf of the king of Thailand. Every year distinguished guests from India as well as other nations are present, and tourists visit in large numbers too. The World Tripitaka Foundation is currently developing the Golden Pagoda as the first International Tripitaka centre in India.

In my last visit to Thailand, I was blessed enough to witness grand Buddhist temples and monasteries. I was at awe looking at the amazing architecture, the well-maintained campus, the displined life of young monks and above all their faith and dedication towards their creed. And I must say I got the same feeling on entering the main gate of the Pagoda. Upon witnessing the Pagoda for the very first time I was overwhelmed. To be able to visit something so grand felt like a blessing, and it is an absolute pride and honour for Arunachal Pradesh and entire North-East India to have the magnificent Golden Pagoda as an important cultural and tourist destination.

We couldn’t explore much because it was already dark by the time we entered the temple premises and because of the drizzle the weather suddenly became all the more cold. No doubt the night view of the Golden Pagoda is the main attraction, but one should arrive earlier so as to explore and click some beautiful pictures in daylight. Once outside the gate we all had tea and snacks and started on our journey back home. It was a pleasant visit to Namsai and the Golden Pagoda is finally off my travel bucket list.

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By Pallabita Bora Phukon

A non-conformist, a dreamer, carefree by nature, I am an entrepreneur who is ever so passionate about her work. After a series of jobs and few entrepreneurial ventures, blogging came into my mind and nothing better than highlighting Assam could be my priority since I am in love with my state. So embark on this enchanting journey with me to Assam.

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