History of Thembang
Thembang is an ancient fortified village of high historical and cultural significance located at an altitude of 2300m above MSL in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. It is inhabited by indigenous Monpa tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The village is surrounded with lush green majestic mountain peaks with oak and blue pine forest slopes, with cascading high speed perennial rivers flowing down below the deep gorges. Thembang-dzong is one of the oldest villages in the region which was the head quarter of a large territory ruled by the powerful king who was the direct descendant of the king of Tibet during the medieval era. It has witnessed many wars in the past as a result the village has a strong fortification were made with two gates for entry and exit in the northern and the southern side of the village. The fort was constructed following traditional architecture by the villagers of Rahung, Khutam, Bhud and Khowna who were under the sovereignty of Bapus of Thembang during that time. Every evening, loud shout warnings were given near these gates after which they were closed. Large stone slabs were kept on top of the wall of the fort which would fell on any intruder who would try to climb it up. During night time, the young warriors equipped with swords, spears, bows and arrows used to guard the entire fort.
Lt Col F M Bailey Mr H W Tilman
In 1913, Lt. Col. FM Bailey and Capt. H T Morshead of the Survey of British India have stayed here in the fort while coming down from Tibet during the “Tsangpo Exploration” thus the route which passes through Thembang is known as “Bailey Trail”. Many British officers stayed in Thembang including H W Tilman in 1938. The village has also witnessed a fierce battle during the Indo- China war of 1962. One can still find the war bunkers constructed by the Indian Armed forces around the village. A huge Chinese army had come down through the Bailey Trail to Thembang and went directly to Bomdila encircling a large numbers of Indian army between Bomdila and Sela Pass. A war memorial to commemorate the soldiers who died in the war has been recently constructed near the village.
Thembang at present
Thembang has witnessed very little impact of urbanisation. Clans residing inside the fort still live in stone houses that were constructed following indigenous Monpa architecture. There are many caves with religious significance and numerous Mani and Chorten in and around the village. There’s a renovated Gonpa (Buddhist Temple) on the hill top of the village where traditional wood carvings, manuscripts have been carefully preserved. Villagers still practice their traditional lifestyle which has little influences of diverse cultures such as the Bhutanese, the Tibetans and the indigenous North-East Indian culture that includes their social structure and practices, rites, rituals and their vernacular building knowledge systems. Villagers do their traditional farming which is purely organic using very basic things such as cow dung and sheep scat and their urine as manure and oak leaves for mulching as well as for various other purposes. They also rear animal for agricultural purpose as well as to sustain their livelihood through various milk products. Some of the important festivals of Thembang are Losar, Hoishina, Choikor etc.
The Kangto Peak (The highest peak in the North-east after Kanchenjunga)
Thembang has a large forest area under its control with an altitude ranging from 1500 m to 7000 m above MSL. The forest type ranges from temperate to alpine meadows where one can find rare orchids, rhododendrons, primula and very rare medicinal plants. The faunal diversity includes rare species of animals such as the elusive Snow leopard, Red panda, Himalayan black bear, Clouded leopard, Chinese pangolin, Black pika, Blue sheep etc. The area is also rich in bird diversity which includes rare bird species like Himalayan monal, Blood pheasant, Bamboo partridge, Satyr tragopan, Khalij pheasant etc. The Thungri – Changla – Porshingla area of Thembang have already been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.
Having all these resources Community based eco-tourism was introduced in Thembang in a sustainable way which has already been conferred with the best Eco-tourism award for the year 2017 by the Department of Tourism, Govt of Arunachal Pradesh.
Thembang Dzong with its peculiar geographic location, diverse cultural influences, rich history and unique features unlike any other place is currently contending for UNESCO World Heritage Site.