ARUNACHAL PRADESH (REUTERS) - Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Saturday (April 8) began spiritual teachings in India's north-eastern hilltown of Tawang, despite repeated objections from China to his visit to the contested stretch of land on the border.
Tens of thousands of devotees, not just from Tawang but from across India and neighbouring countries of Bhutan and Nepal, converged at the remote Buddhist enclave nestled in the icy folds of the eastern Himalayas to attend the discourse by the revered leader.
The Dalai Lama, considered the God-king by his followers, was given a colourful and traditional welcome upon his arrival with musicians and dancers clad in traditional costumes performing.
India's hosting of the Dalai Lama has long irritated Beijing.
China has repeatedly denounced the 1989 Nobel Peace laureate's trip to Arunachal Pradesh state - a sensitive border region administered by New Delhi, but claimed by Beijing as "South Tibet".
Beijing, which considers the Dalai Lama a dangerous separatist, said that by ignoring China's concerns and persisting in arranging the trip, India had "severely damaged China's interests and China-India relations". China has controlled Tibet since 1950.
China denies any repression in Tibet and says its rule has brought development to a poverty-stricken region.
It accuses the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, of espousing violence.
The Dalai Lama denies the charge and says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.