This ancient village in Northeast India eyes UNESCO ‘World Heritage’ status

This ancient village in Northeast India eyes UNESCO ‘World Heritage’ status

FACTS | Sept 18, 2020:

Away from the busy town and in the midst of the mountains lies the Thembang Village in Arunachal Pradesh. With less than 100 households, the area is surrounded by ancient medieval fortification along with many other monuments.

Facts you should know about this unique village:

Thembang is a 12th-century old fortified village and a nominee of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and the community is known to respect and sustain the ecological richness here.

It is said that this village was ruled by an extremely powerful king by the name – Cha-Cha-Nye, who according to the legends, believed to have descended from the sky. In the king's rule, taxes were collected from various areas including some parts of Bodo areas in the present Darrang District of Assam namely Mishamari, Udalguri, and Mazbat.

Interestingly, this place has been nominated not for its historic structures but the way of life of the people in Thembang.

This place is home to many historic structures, one of them being the 'Dzong'-a type of fortress architecture constructed using techniques by the then stone masonry and wood architecture. It has two gates on the North and on South, the former was used for entry and the latter was used for exit. When dawn sets in, residents are asked to get inside the fort gates after which they are closed. This was for the protection of the people.

There are many caves with religious significance and numerous Mani and Chorten in and around the village including a renovated Gonpa (Buddhist Temple) on the hilltop of the village. The Gonpa has traditional wood carvings, manuscripts which have still been carefully preserved.

Talking about the lifestyle, the villagers still practise 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.

This village has a large forest area under its control with an altitude ranging from 1500 m to 7000 m and also acts as a shelter for varieties of flora and fauna. The Thungri – Changla – Porshingla area of Thembang have already been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.

The most important factor that experts felt deserves a UNESCO tag is the inhabitants, who remain the greatest strength of Thembang. They continue to maintain the ecological equilibrium as a part of their socio-cultural life.

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